2023 has been…quite an interesting year for me. And an overwhelming one too. And while I could not complete my reading challenge of 50 books, I definitely read some wonderful stories last year that I am always going to cherish. Here are some of my favorite books of 2023.
~My Top 10 Favorite Books of 2023~
A small note: not all of the books mentioned in this list were released in 2023. When I say “favorite books of 2023”, what I really mean are books that I read in 2023 and loved, regardless of when they were published.
1. All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
This book destroyed me and then brought me back to life again. That is the only way I can describe it. All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir was such an emotional roller coaster ride. The story follows Sal and Noor, two misfit Pakistani-American Muslim kids who are each other’s best friends, but find themselves struggling to reconnect after a terrible fight that ruined their friendship and trust.
Both Noor and Sal have their own demons, and watching the two of them overcome their trauma and find strength in each other was honestly the most cathartic reading experience that I had. It’s such a beautifully and intelligently written novel that perfectly captures the experience of a Muslim teenager growing up and away from their roots, in a country where they are not only unwanted but treated with suspicion. It is one of my favorite books of 2023 and if you haven’t read it yet, I strongly recommend it.
2. Song of the Mango And Other New Myths by Vida Cruz
I think I have mentioned this book at least a few hundred times throughout 2023! Without a doubt, one of the best books I have read in 2023 (and also one of my favorite books of 2023), Song of the Mango And Other New Myths by Vida Cruz is a gorgeous collection of lush, vibrant, and beautifully diverse fantasy short stories steeped in Filipino folklore and myth.
There are so many short stories in this anthology that took up a very special place in my heart–I genuinely need more people around the blogosphere (and bookstagram, and booktok and booktwitter) to read this book and talk about it more. Here’s my full spoiler-free review of Song of the Mango And Other New Myths.
3. The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann by Virginia Pye
This is another strangely underrated book that came out in 2023. Loosely based on real events, The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann by Virginia Pye tells the story of one woman’s fight for the right to tell her stories and receive equal pay in the publishing industry.
It is not only an incredibly wholesome and awe-inspiring feminist story that I strongly recommend everyone to read, but the book is full of wonderfully developed characters who raise interesting conversations about class, power, and gender politics. Check out my full review of The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann here.
4. Between Two Moons by Aisha Abdel Gawad
I had my eyes on Between Two Moons by Aisha Abdel Gawad for a very long time–it’s been on my most anticipated book releases of summer 2023. I finally got around to reading it during winter break, and it blew my mind away! A heart-wrenchingly beautiful, coming-of-age story that explores Islamophobia, as well as the struggles of growing up in a religious observant Muslim family in the USA, Between Two Moons, is hands down one of the best diverse books released last year.
I do not know why it hasn’t received enough hype, but by the time I was done reading it, I had a very difficult time believing this was Gawad’s debut novel. It is definitely one of my favorite books of 2023, and I really hope with time Gawad gets the recognition she deserves for writing this incredible story.
5. Come Closer by Sara Gran
Next on my list of favorite books of 2023 is a horror novel–Come Closer by Sara Gran. Although I am a huge horror movie/series fan, I do not really read horror books that often. But my sister recommended this one to me and I am so glad I read it.
A very short but incredibly captivating novel, Come Closer by Sara Gran tells the story of a woman being slowly possessed by a demon. The writing and narration are so succinct, and with every page you turn you cannot help but be deeply engrossed (and very very worried) in the main character’s eventual unbecoming. There are no happy endings here–you’ll know it from the very first page that this story will not end well, but Sara Gran has such a unique and captivating voice that you will still want to see it through.
6. Orchard of Skeletons by Eli Wilde
Another horror novel that surprisingly made it to my list of favorite books of 2023 is Eli Wilde’s Orchard of Skeletons. I say surprisingly because when I read the first few pages of this dystopian horror, I had my reservations.
I am glad I kept pushing though because after the first two or three chapters, the story picks up rapidly and you cannot help but be interested in learning more about the main characters. Set in a dystopian post-apocalyptic world where both food and fertile humans are scarce, the story follows two teenagers–Isaac and Macy–who are on the run to escape a psychopath who wants to kill Isaac and force Macy into a life of sexual slavery.
It’s not the perfect dystopian horror I have read, but it definitely kept me up all night and had me on the edge of my seat. Read my full review of Eli Wilde’s Orchard of Skeletons here.
7. I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn
I have read quite a few cutesy romance novels in 2023, but the one that definitely was the highlight of the year is I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn. A delightfully sweet Young Adult romance that also explores themes of self-discovery and family ties, I Love You So Mochi is one of my favorite books of 2023 that gave me all the warm fuzzy feelings and even had me shedding a few sad tears every now and then too. It also made me want to hop on the earliest flight to Japan and witness the beauty of the country and culture firsthand.
8. Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
I feel kind of conflicted about listing this book as one of my favorite books of 2023, but only because Ariadne by Jennifer Saint absolutely wrecked me. If you are familiar with Greek mythology, then it won’t come as a surprise to you to know that the legend of Ariadne does not have a happy ending. I knew this before going in.
And yet, throughout the entire book, Jennifer Saint weaves such an emotional tale of women’s struggles to break free from being punished for the mistakes of men that you cannot help but wish hopelessly for a different ending for Ariadne. Definitely would recommend it to anyone who enjoys retellings of mythology.
9. Light In Gaza: Writings Born of Fire
2023 was not the first year that I helplessly witnessed the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. But it was the first time that I noticed people around me taking up books, digging deep into history and speaking up against the occupation. And I guess I kind of wanted to break free from the violence that I kept seeing on my screen–but still hear from those who did not have the luxury to get away from the cruelty.
And so I picked up Light In Gaza, a collection of essays and poems written by Palestinians that give more detailed insights into the occupation that has been going on for more than 75 years, and how the endless years of senseless violence have shaped their lives. It is one of my favorite books of 2023 simply because it is a book that holds stories that deserve to be shared.
10. A Monster Calls
The last one on my list of favorite books of 2023 is a book that I am sure you have all heard of. I have been putting off reading A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness after seeing so many readers talk about how it had destroyed their hearts. Now that I have finally read it, I can confirm: this book really will bring out all your trauma, and in doing so, will show you the way to heal as well.
And that brings me to the end of my list of favorite books of 2023. Feel free to let me know which books made 2023 a wonderful year for you in the comments below!