I Read 365 Books This Year and These Were My 10 Favorites
A bookworm shares her top reads of 2023.
When people ask me to share a fun fact about myself, my knee-jerk reaction is to talk about books. I always say something along the lines of, "I own more than 2,000 physical books," or "I listen to audiobooks at double the normal speed," but my favorite one to shock people with is, "I read 365 books this year." While I didn't exactly stick to the one-book-a-day formula, I still managed to hit this milestone over a calendar year.
Of course, people always ask, "Don't you sleep?" "What about your social life?" "How do you find the time to read that many books?" Since reading is one of my favorite things to do, I'll find the time no matter what. I do have a full-time job, a part-time teaching gig, and a plentiful social calendar (plus I usually manage to get seven hours of sleep every night), so I can see why some might question how I read 365 books this year.
However, there is a method to my madness. Most days, I'm usually reading at least three books at once—one audiobook, one e-book on my Kindle, and one physical book. I get audiobooks through Libby, a free app where you can borrow e-books, audiobooks, or magazines as long as you have a library card. I have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, and I have shelves and shelves of books in my house. I keep track of my reading on apps like Goodreads or Storygraph, so it's easy for me to get through some of my TBR (to-be-read) lists and discover new authors, genres, and favorites.
Now, asking a bookworm to pick their favorite books is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child—it's pretty much impossible. Even as a self-declared book expert, I find it difficult to pick my top books, especially because I've read and loved so many. While I typically read romance and fantasy books, I've made an effort to include an array of genres in 2023's favorites list. Read on to discover (in no particular order) my 10 favorite books of the year.
Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross is the first in the Letters of Enchantment duology. It follows Iris and Roman, two rivals who find themselves swept up in an unexpected war against the gods. Amidst fighting, the pair face perilous tasks and risk their lives, falling in love along the way.
I loved this book for several reasons. To start, the main characters were both journalists, which resonated with me. Next, this book was a fantasy but had a nice mix of historic and romantic elements, too. Finally, it was a beautifully done, unique concept, and I was captivated by the writing, the characters, and the world that Ross created.
Kissing Kosher by Jean Meltzer
In Kissing Kosher by Jean Meltzer, Avital and Ethan start as unknown family rivals who come together through the love of baked goods. The book features both Jewish and chronic illness representation, ultimately mirroring Meltzer's own experiences.
This book was not only incredibly enjoyable, but it taught me a lot. Meltzer discusses physical well-being, sex, and intimacy all through a Jewish lens. I like to see myself in the characters of the books I read, and seeing Jewish characters in a romance novel is a big reason why I loved this book. (The baked goods sounded so delicious, too, which was a great little addition!)
Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
Genre: Romantasy (a mix of romance and fantasy)
In my opinion, one of the most explosive books of the year was Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. This book is the first in The Empyrean series and takes place at a war college for dragon riders.
After writing a lot of contemporary romance, this was Yarros' first foray into fantasy. However, she wrote her characters with the complexity and depth that I find so important in a fantasy world. Violet Sorrengail, the female main character, is easily one of my new favorite protagonists.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the dragons, as they were a huge part of the story and characters in which I was highly invested. I also loved the enemies-to-lovers romance trope and the intense trials and plot twists throughout the story.
The Coworker by Freida McFadden
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Dawn Schiff and Natalie Farrell couldn't be more different. But when Dawn repeatedly doesn't show up for work, Natalie becomes involved in finding out what happened to her. The Coworker by Freida McFadden follows these two women as an unforgivable mistake gets brought to light.
This book had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I didn't see the twists coming, which is my favorite part about reading a thriller. I also enjoyed that the story was told from both women's points of view, especially as they were such different characters.
Waypoints: My Scottish Journey by Sam Heughan
In his first memoir, Outlander actor Sam Heughan, a born and raised Scot himself, takes readers on his life's journey, as well as his trek through the 96-mile West Highland Way. Not only does this book feature an inside look into Heughan's personal life and career, but it also showcases the natural beauty of Scotland.
It often feels strange reviewing a memoir (who am I to judge someone's life story?). However, after listening to Heughan narrate the audiobook version of his memoir, I have no qualms about doing so. It was easy to imagine what he would be like in person, and I often felt like I was standing in Scotland with him.
A Shot in the Dark by Victoria Lee
Genre: Contemporary Romance
A Shot in the Dark is a powerful love story and Victoria Lee's debut romance novel. Elisheva Cohen and Wyatt Cole have complicated pasts, having both struggled with addiction. While working through their trauma and growing as individuals, they come to lean on each other and eventually fall in love.
I don't think I read a more beautiful book this year. I found myself getting emotional at various points. The diverse representation, from Elisheva's Judaism to Wyatt being a transgender man, was so well done. Lee created such complex characters that propelled the story forward. Addiction is a hard topic to write about, yet Lee did it with grace and care.
The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Clover Brooks is a death doula, a job I hadn't heard of before reading The Collected Regrets of Clover. She lives her life for others until one woman's final wishes take her on a much-needed journey of self-discovery. This is Mikki Brammer's debut novel, and it's full of growth, heartfelt moments, and strong characters.
For a book centered around death, it was surprisingly light. Though there were sad components, the story was reflective and engaging. Brammer beautifully addressed grief, along with the idea that life and death are always intertwined. Clover's complexity, and her growth throughout the story, also made this one of my favorite books.
The Three Lives of Alix St. Pierre by Natasha Lester
Genre: Historical Fiction
Alix St. Pierre is striving to forget her part in World War II, and she does so by creating a new life for herself as a publicist at the House of Dior in Paris. The Three Lives of Alix St. Pierre by Natasha Lester is a mix of Alix's current life and flashbacks, full of intriguing spy work and a high-stakes love story.
Lester's writing was captivating and inviting without being too heavy. As a lover of fashion myself, I enjoyed seeing what it was like inside a fashion house during the 1940s. The alternating timelines helped propel the story, and the action and espionage kept things exciting.
The Fragile Threads of Power by V.E. Schwab
The Fragile Threads of Power by V.E. Schwab is the first in a brand new series set in the same world as Schwab's A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy. It's full of adventure, scheming, and a brilliant cast of characters. This story is set across four different versions of London and follows Tes, a girl who can see "threads" of magic, as she comes across a device that could change the dynamic of all four worlds. This book can be read as a stand-alone, but I recommend reading the original trilogy first.
V.E. Schwab's world-building and magic systems are unlike anyone else's. I loved seeing the characters from the original trilogy, but I also thought the new introductions were unique and exciting. This book had twists I didn't see coming, and I was fully immersed in the fantasy world from the start, never once bored while reading.
Radiant Sin by Katee Robert
Genre: Spicy Romance
Radiant Sin by Katee Robert is the fourth in the Dark Olympus series and follows Cassandra and Apollo through a tumultuous power struggle. This series should be read in order, but they're quick, steamy romance novels that put a different twist on Greek mythology.
I've read a ton of Katee Robert's books, and she never skimps on the spice. Radiant Sin had some of my favorite romance tropes, including fake dating and a workplace setting. While I love a sweet, contemporary romance, I also enjoy books that are sexier and darker. From the relationship dynamic to the tension and political intrigue happening in the background, this was easily one of my favorites for 2023.
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