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TOP TEN Books of 2023 - An Avid Reader's FAVORITE Reads

Updated: Feb 14

I always love looking back at the year to see how my reading went! This year was my biggest reading year I've ever had (and probably will have for awhile at least). I read 285 books, so narrowing down 10 favorites was not easy!

Each month as I read, I pick my top three favorite books from that month. Then at the end of the year, I use ten different categories to help me narrow down which of those 36 books were my top ten favorite of the year.

Here are my top 10 favorite books I read in 2023!

Favorite New Release

Hello Stranger by Katherine Center

Katherine Center has recently become a favorite author of mine (who writes clean adult romcoms), so when I saw she had a new release, I had to get it! I ended up binge listening to it in one sitting while I painted my girls' room and loved it! It might be my new favorite book by her.

The premise follows a portrait artist who has a brain surgery that leads to a face blindness. While she's dealing with that and her family, she also ends up in a sort of love triangle. It was a delightful read and I also really loved the author's note at the end.

Favorite Book That Surprised Me

Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross

This YA fantasy romance took me by surprise in a couple different ways. First, I'd read the Elements of Cadence duology by this author and liked them, but they weren't completely my type of books. This book had a very different feel than her previous series and it was much more my style. It was a pleasant surprise! Partially because of that, I was also very surprised by how much I loved the book!

My favorite parts of this book were the "You've Got Mail" feel of the plot. I absolutely loved the letter sending part of the plot. I also really loved the war correspondance aspect of the story. It actually surprised me how much I liked it!

Favorite Nonfiction Book

Divine Signatures by Gerald Lund

Gerald Lund is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ and has written many books in that realm, both fictional novels and doctrinal books. Some of his doctrinal books have been my favorite religious books (and some of have just been okay). This one is my favorite of his nonfiction books now.

It is a collection of stories showing the hand of God in people's lives. It is an inspiring read that strengthened my testimony of God and left me looking for God's hand in my own life more often.

Favorite Spontaneous Read

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarity

I read Big Little Lies by this author in 2023 and loved it. I've been reading more books by her since then but wasn't planning on reading this one this year. On a whim, I decided to get the audiobook for it and devoured it.

Like Big Little Lies, this one is a thriller that bounces between a present-day event and the time period leading up to that event. One of the things I think Moriarty does very well is giving the reader just enough information to make us want to know more. I love the pacing of her books and the way I discover more and more information as I read. It was a fun read and I'm glad I decided to pick up spontaneously.

Favorite Christie Read

The Regatta Mystery by Agatha Christie

I read at least one Christie book a month, which is why she has her own category. It's honestly one of the hardest categories to narrow down because I love so many of her books.

I decided on this short story collection this year because I loved every story in the collection. It was fun to read a variety of her characters as well. I tend to love her short stories and this collection was so enjoyable.

Favorite Book by a Favorite Author

The Secret Projects by Brandon Sanderson

Okay, so I'm cheating a little and throwing four books in here, instead of one. But, I can't help it. I wanted to pick a secret project for this one because I enjoyed them so much. When it came down to it, though, I couldn't pick just one. They were all so fun to read, but great in their own unique ways.

In Tress of the Emerald Sea, I loved the main character, the romance, and the overall feel of the book. In the Frugal Wizard's Handbook, I loved the mystery of the main character figuring out who he is, the world building, and the humor. In Yumi and the Nightmare Painter, I loved the Cosmere tie-ins, the romance (though in a totally different way than Tress), and the resolution at the end. In the Sunlit Man, I loved the Bridge Four tie-in, the character arc, and the side characters.

Favorite Book that Made Me Cry

Defiant by Brandon Sanderson

This is the fourth and final book in Sanderson's Skyward series, a YA science fiction. While I like the series, it's not my favorite by Sanderson so I was not expecting to love the finale as much as I did. I also did not know that I would cry THREE different times at the end of the book. But, I did. The ending was emotionally impactful in many ways. I loved the friendships, the growth we see from the characters, and portrayal of grief and how as humans can carry grief together.

Favorite Book Recommended by Bookstagram

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Jo

I saw so many people on Bookstagram recommending this book and it did not disappoint! This historical fiction had a great romance, a strong female lead, and a thought-provoking theme of equality. The fact that the main character is a writer is a great bonus!

Favorite Book in a Series

A Curse for True Love by Stephanie Garber

I honestly read a lot of great books that are part of series this year, but this one was so great, it had to make my favorites list. I enjoyed the series but loved this finale! The pacing was just right for me, the romance had great tension, and the ending was the just right amount of wrap up and happily ever after for me.

Favorite Read Aloud Book

Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls

I am a huge fan of Where the Red Fern Grows and had never read Summer of the Monkeys. I decided to try it as a read aloud.

When I first started reading, I thought this one inferior to Where the Red Fern Grows, but then I absolutely loved the ending! It brought me to tears multiple times and the lead up was so well done. The kids also loved the antics of the monkeys and would beg me to keep reading each night. It was a fantastic read aloud and I will definitely revisit this classic in the future.

Bonus: Favorite Reread

Sammy Keyes by Wendelin Van Draanen

I never include rereads in my list of favorite books, but as a bonus, I always pick a favorite reread at the end of the year. This year, my favorite reread was probably Sammy Keyes. I first read this a few years ago and actually finished reading the series in September of 2023. In October, I read this first book in the series aloud to the girls and we all loved it! I had so much fun revisiting the first so soon after reading the last book in the series (which is a sort of tribute to Sammy and all the adventures she has throughout the series) and I also loved how much the kids loved it.

Have you read and loved (or hated) any of these books? What were your favorite books that you read last year? Let me know in the comments below!

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