If you only know one thing about me, it’s probably that I loove books. I’m hyperlexic. When I say “I’m a reader,” I mean “I read the way other people breathe.”
I read more than 50 books a quarter; to make it on my list of favorite books for the year is a big deal. There are many contenders.
I’ve divided my favorites into six categories that I hope you find helpful: Perspective Altering Non-Fiction, Compelling Memoirs/Biographies, Fiction That Tells A Good Story, Fiction That Tells A Story Well, Inexplicably Stayed With Me For Months, and Great Short Story Collections.
While I definitely read to escape, I mostly read to be impressed. These thirty-seven books entertained, informed, and probably created new folds in my brain.
Perspective Altering Non-Fiction
These books made me think: about systems, about America, about my health, and about my kids. But in order to make this list, they had to be well-written, too.
- Who’s Raising The Kids? Big Tech, Big Business, and the Lives of Children by Susan Linn
- The Menopause Manifesto by Dr. Jen Gunter
- Hysterical by Elissa Bassist
- Poverty, By America by Matthew Desmond
- Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
- Run Towards The Danger by Sarah Polley
- Allow Me To Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide To The Constitution by Elie Mystal
- Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To by David A. Sinclair, PhD
- Abominations by Lionel Shriver
These memoirs and biographies led to hyperfixations of the author/subject’s life. And I don’t regret one minute of fevered Wikipedia scrolling or video essay perusal.
- I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
- The Way We Lived Then by Dominic Dunne
- To Anyone Who Ever Asks: The Life, Music, and Mystery of Connie Converse by Howard Fishman
Fiction That Tells A Good Story
I’ve always said that literary fiction comes in two types. This category is about a good story.
Of course, these books are well-written (otherwise they can’t make the list), but they’re in this category as the story was so gripping I couldn’t wait to see how it would end.
- Demon Copperhead by Jane Smiley
- Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo
- Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins
- The Fraud by Zadie Smith
- Deacon King Kong by James McBride
- Up With The Sun by Thomas Mallon
Fiction That Tells A Story Well
These books contain more “ordinary” stories: slow plots, daily vignettes, and no supernatural elements.
Yet, they were written so well as to transcend their everyday subjects.
- Fight Night by Miriam Toews
- Didn’t Nobody Give A Shit What Happened To Carlotta by James Hannaham
- Learned By Heart by Emma Donoghue
- Talking At Night by Claire Daverley
- The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese
- Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead
Inexplicably Stayed With Me For Months
While all these books could have gone into either of the two previous categories, I felt that these deserved their own space.
Cuz these books certainly carved space in my brain. Even months later, I think of these tomes often.
- The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy
- Women Talking by Miriam Toews
- Between Here and April by Deborah Copaken
- Maame by Jessica George
- At Certain Points We Touch by Lauren John Joseph
- Life Is Everywhere by Lucy Ives
- Little Monsters by Adrienne Brodeur
- Banyan Moon by Thao Thai
- The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride
- What Napoleon Could Not Do by DK Nnuro
- December Breeze by Marvel Moreno
Great Short Story Collections
In my opinion, short story collections are a dime a dozen. Even ones I enjoy at the time, I usually find forgettable.
That’s probably why this is the shortest category. But these two short story collections deserve a special mention.
If your New Year’s resolution is to read more books, you’ve got to start here! I hope you like these books (and their categorization).
You Tell Me!
What were some of your favorite books of 2023? Let me know in the comments.