We’re already over halfway through 2023 if you can believe it! I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately. Still, I’ve been trying to challenge myself and read more, but it can be hard to know what to add to my TBR list. That’s why I thought it would be a good time for a mid-year list of the best books of 2023 (so far).
Best Books of 2023
To compile this list, I looked at over 10 different “best book” articles from various, well-established publications. The New Yorker, Vulture, and Vogue to name a few. I noted the titles on each of these roundups and counted how many times each title appeared. As expected, some books appeared on nearly every list while others only appeared once or twice. I then created my own list based on the most oft-cited books in other articles.
With that, here are the 20 best books of 2023 according to editors.
Top 10 Fiction Books
*Note: Books are listed in order from most cited to least cited.
1. The Guest
Author: Emma Cline • Genre: Psychological Thriller
A young woman pretends to be someone she isn’t in this stunning novel by the bestselling author of The Girls.
Alex has been staying with an older man on the East end of Long Island, but after a misstep at a party, she’s no longer welcome. Not wanting to return to where she came from, she drifts through the summer, causing destruction in her wake and planning how to get back in his good graces.
Author: R. F. Kuang • Genre: Psychological Fiction
Bestselling sensation Juniper Song is not who she says she is, she didn’t write the book she claims she wrote, and she is most certainly not Asian American
Two authors, June Hayward and Athena Liu, were supposed to be twin rising stars after Yale. But Athena’s a cross-genre literary darling, and June didn’t even get a paperback release. When June witnesses Athena’s death in a freak accident, she acts on impulse: she steals Athena’s just-finished masterpiece and sends it to her agent as her own.
3. Big Swiss
Author: Jen Beagin • Genre: Humorous Fiction
A sex therapist’s transcriptionist falls in love with a client while listening to her sessions.
Greta spends her days transcribing therapy sessions for a sex coach who calls himself Om. She becomes infatuated with his newest client, a repressed married woman she affectionately refers to as Big Swiss. One day, Greta recognizes Big Swiss’s voice at the dog park. In a panic, she introduces herself with a fake name and they quickly become enmeshed.
4. I Have Some Questions For You
Author: Rebecca Makkai • Genre: Psychological Fiction
A twisty, immersive novel that’s part true-crime page-turner, part campus coming-of-age.
A successful film professor and podcaster, Bodie Kane is content to forget the tragedy that marred her adolescence. While at a New Hampshire boarding school, her former roommate, Thalia Keith, was murdered and the school’s athletic trainer, Omar Evans, was subsequently convicted. But when the Granby School invites her back to teach a course, Bodie is inexorably drawn to the case and its increasingly apparent ﬂaws.
Author: Jessica George • Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Maame (ma-meh) has many meanings in Twi but in my case, it means woman.
Maddie’s life in London is far from rewarding. With a mother who spends most of her time in Ghana (yet still somehow manages to be overbearing), Maddie is the primary caretaker for her father, who suffers from advanced stage Parkinson’s. At work, her boss is a nightmare and Maddie is tired of always being the only Black person in every meeting. So, when her mum returns from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie leaps at the chance to get out of the family home and finally start living.
6. Pineapple Street
Author: Jenny Jackson • Genre: Domestic Fiction
A deliciously funny, sharply observed debut of family, love, and class, this zeitgeisty novel follows three women in one wealthy Brooklyn clan.
Darley, the eldest daughter in the well-connected, old money Stockton family, followed her heart, trading her job and her inheritance for motherhood. Sasha, a middle-class New England girl, has married into the Brooklyn Heights family, and finds herself cast as the arriviste outsider. And Georgiana, the baby of the family, has fallen in love with someone she can’t have and must decide what kind of person she wants to be.
7. Romantic Comedy
Author: Curtis Sittenfeld • Genre: Contemporary Fiction
A comedy writer thinks she’s sworn off love, until a dreamily handsome pop star flips the script on all her assumptions.
Sally Milz is a sketch writer for a late-night live comedy show who has long-abandoned the search for love. Enter Noah Brewster, a pop music sensation with a reputation for dating models, who signed on as both host and musical guest for this week’s show. Dazzled by his charms, Sally hits it off with Noah instantly, and as they collaborate on one sketch after another, she begins to wonder whether there might actually be sparks flying.
8. Hello Beautiful
Author: Ann Napolitano • Genre: Historical Fiction
An emotionally layered and engrossing story of a family that asks: Can love make a broken person whole?
William grew up in a house silenced by tragedy, so it’s a relief when he earns a basketball scholarship to a college far from his childhood home. He soon meets Julia, a spirited and ambitious young woman. She is inseparable from her three younger sisters, Sylvie, Cecelia, and Emeline, who fold him into their loving, chaotic household. But then darkness from William’s past surfaces, jeopardizing Julia’s carefully orchestrated plans for their future and the sisters’ unshakeable loyalty to one another.
9. Birnam Wood
Author: Eleanor Catton • Genre: Psychological Thriller
A gripping thriller of high drama and kaleidoscopic insight into what drives us to survive.
Five years ago, Mira Bunting founded a guerrilla gardening group: Birnam Wood. An undeclared, unregulated, sometimes-criminal, sometimes-philanthropic gathering of friends. After years of struggling, Mira stumbles on a financial solution: the town of Thorndike abandoned due to natural disaster.
But Mira is not the only one interested in Thorndike. Robert Lemoine, the enigmatic American billionaire, has snatched it up to build his end-times bunker–or so he tells Mira when he catches her on the property.
Author: Esther Yi • Genre: Humorous Fiction
Surreal, hilarious, and shrewdly poignant—a woman whose obsession with a K-pop idol sends her to Seoul on a journey of literary self-destruction.
Seized by desire for K-pop idol, Moon, the unnamed narrator begins writing Y/N fanfic—in which you, the reader, insert [Your/Name] and play out an intimate relationship with the unattainable star. Then Moon suddenly retires, vanishing from the public eye. Thus, the narrator journeys to Korea in search of her love.
Best Non-Fiction of 2023
Most of the lists I looked at focused mainly on fiction, but there were several works of non-fiction that appeared multiple times. Here are the five best non-fiction books of 2023 (so far).
1. The Wager
Author: David Grann
In The Wager, Grann tells the riveting tale of the British ship the Wager, which embarked from England on a secret mission against Spain in 1740. Two years later, 30 ragged men from the Wager landed ashore in Brazil. Six months after that, three more Wager sailors washed up in Chile.
2. Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma
Author: Claire Dederer
An unflinching and deeply personal book that explores the audience’s relationship with various problematic artists. It’s a passionate, provocative, and blisteringly smart interrogation of how we make and experience art in the age of #MeToo, and of the link between genius and monstrosity.
3. A Living Remedy
Author: Nicole Chung
In this a heart-wrenching and poignant memoir, Chung explores identity, family, and inequality. Adopted by a white family in Oregon, she yearns to understand the lives her adoptive parents led, the life she forged as an adult, and the lives she’s lost.
Author: Prince Harry
One of the most anticipated books of 2023 was undoubtedly Prince Harry’s memoir. Spare provides an unprecedented look into life in the (often dysfunctional) British Royal Family. It’s an explosive, emotional look at the Duke’s personal journey from trauma to healing.
5. King: A Life
Author: Jonathan Eig
A comprehensive and meticulously researched biography delving into the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr. In this revelatory new portrait of the preacher and activist who shook the world, Eig includes hundreds of interviews and recently declassified FBI files.
Other Notable Books of 2023
The last five of my “Best Books of 2023” list appeared on at least 3 different articles, but weren’t as popular as the books above.
In this disquieting story, a woman fleeing past sins attempts to forge a new life homesteading Montana’s harsh plains.
Bold, meditative, theatrical, this new novel is an inventive, poetic portrait of lovers and siblings as it questions the stories we have been told which may or may not be true.
A coming-of-age novel that follows a white working-class girl named Sam from the ages of 7 to about 19.
The book follows Maggie, a white 29 year old, freshly divorced PHD with not a clue what to do with her life.
A soldier returns home from Vietnam to search for his missing sister in this gripping story of broken lives and a search for happiness.