The Best Books I’ve Read in 2023

Well, there’s another year gone by! I am now going into my fourth year as a blogger and so this is the third “best books I read this year” sort of post I’ve done now. Have my reading tastes changed at all?

Please note that this article contains affiliate links. This means if you choose to purchase any products via the links below, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These affiliate links do not affect my final opinion of the products.

If you’re new here – these books aren’t the best books that I read that came out in 2023. This is a list of just the best books that I have read in 2023. However, don’t think this list isn’t as good, because, realistically, who is so up-to-date with books that only 2023-released books are relevant to them now?

This year has been a brilliant year for not only my blog but also a fantastic year for reading, once again broadening my reading scope to more genres, new ideas, new authors, different ways of writing and more. I’ll be going into more of a look back on the year in a future post. For now, let’s stick to books.

Every year, I try and narrow down my top list into a nice round number for you. Not only does this please people’s aesthetic needs, but it also works far better for my SEO. Therefore, I’ve narrowed this year’s list down to ten. It wasn’t easy as there are definitely some books I wanted to include and so I’ve added these as honourable mentions.

Also, these are my favourite books of the year. These books were books I thought either blew my mind with their plot, managed to keep me interested throughout, included some fantastic characters or were just so unique I have to given a written round of applause to them.

As is the case with all reviews of books, they’re a matter of opinion – these multiple opinions usually then form an overall idea for the book. ie – a lot of people say a book is written well but some say they didn’t enjoy the writing, therefore reviews suggest the book was written well. Therefore, my opinion may not align with the general consensus, but we’ll see!

Honourable mentions:

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

“Oooh the book everyone was talking about online and the one you gave 4.5/5 isn’t in your top ten books of the year list.. wwwhhyyy?” Well, I’ll tell you for why! It was good, it just wasn’t as good as the other ten books on the list and the sequel hasn’t given me a huge amount of hope that the series as a whole is going to be that great.

I wanted to give the book the benefit of the doubt and I think my review at the time reflected that. I think if this is your first step into fantasy, you’ll likely love it. If you like genuinely good romance or are a big adult fantasy fan, you likely won’t like it.

Read my full review of Fourth Wing | Buy Fourth Wing on Amazon

The Fall by Ryan Cahill

Ryan Cahill is going to be one of my fantasy authors of 2023, I already know it. I’ve read The Fall and I’ve read Of Blood and Fire both of which were absolutely brilliant. I think The Fall, being a prequel and being written after Cahill had already found his stride with writing is a better book than Of Blood and Fire and therefore features on this honourable mentions list.

The reason it doesn’t fit on my final list is because I compared it to the other fantasy mentions I have on the list and the fact it was only a novella so it dropped off the bottom. However, I fully expect the second full novel in the series to absolutely be on my list come the end of next year!

Read my full review of The Fall (there’s currently an error with this) | Buy The Fall on Amazon

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits has to have an honourable mention simply due to how much it surprised me by not preaching at me. I went into the book half expecting it to simply spout off a load of shallow, motivational quotes at me and to tell me to “just work harder”. Instead, it offered genuinely useful tips, detailed steps and some examples of how you can start off easy and apply those to harder habits to wish to start or break.

It wasn’t one of the top ten books I read, but I definitely wanted to mention it on my honourable mentions list.

Read my full review of Atomic Habits | Buy Atomic Habits on Amazon

Beartown/Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

I read both Beartown and its sequel Us Against You by Fredrik Backman this year. Both of them were brilliant, as is always the case with Mr Backman’s books. I always say: he manages to balance humour with very serious moments perfectly, making for books that make you feel both melancholy and heart-warmed within the space of a few pages.

The reason neither features on my final top ten list is because another Backman book does and also because they come as a pair I couldn’t separate which I preferred more so decided to include neither.

Read my full review of Beartown | Buy Beartown on Amazon

Read my full review of Us Against You | Buy Us Against You on Amazon

Top ten list:

What I’ve done is actually try and order this list too. Now, these are the creme de la creme of books I read this year, but in some cases, some more were “cremier” than others, so I’ve tried to order them in such a way.

It does mean you do have to do some more scrolling, but I hope some books you recognise feature and I hope you find something new to pick up!

10. The Servant by Maggie Richell-Davies

The Servant by Maggie Richell-Davies was kindly sent to me in return for an honest review. When I initially posted that it had arrived to my social media channels, I did get some responses saying what a fantastic book it was. Forward on to a fair few months later to when I managed to find time to read it and it really really impressed me.

It’s a book about a house servant who goes from serving a lovely family to a horrid one. Whilst she’s with them, she begins to uncover a darker side to their work but must keep quiet out of fear of losing her only income. When a life-changing event changes her opinion on this, her life just goes from worse to worse.

The Servant felt like a book that would just never pick up. It seemed that no matter what attempts our main character took to try and improve her situation, the world was against her.

But some truly loveable characters, an immersive setting and a constant glimmer of hope made this a book that I finished, put down and wanted to write such wonderful things about!

Read my full review of The Servant | Buy The Servant on Amazon

9. Still Life by Sarah Winman

Still Life is one of those books that come along that you see people absolutely raving about but neither the premise not the front cover seem that interesting to you.

However, you pick it up and about 5 hours later with just over 400 pages behind you, you’ve been transported to another world and thrown out the other side feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. This is one of those books that isn’t going to fly past at a rate of knots, it’s going to gently take you through the lives of some rather ordinary people doing some rather ordinary things but have it written in such a way it feels immersive.

As well as this, the characters are all so delicately and perfectly written, they feel like genuine portrayals of human beings. You can’t help but want to know more about their lives.

Read my full review of Still Life | Buy Still Life on Amazon

8. The Housemaid by Freida McFadden

I’m not a huge fan of thrillers. Or… I am, but they’re sometimes a bit predictable or formulaic. The Housemaid was a book I picked up because I saw it for £2.50 on Amazon! It has then gone on to be my favourite thriller of the year!

Not only does The Housemaid have the best twists in it that I read all year but I found myself hooked throughout the whole book. It starts slower than it eventually gets, but this isn’t that slow and it has you gripped still with some fantastically written creepy (and not so creepy) characters.

There’s a sequel that I will most definitely be reading and hoping that McFadden does enough in it to keep me interested in the rest of the series and having worked out the twist, it’s not just using the main character to make sure people keep reading her books!

Read my full review of The Housemaid | Buy The Housemaid on Amazon

7. Aiduel’s Sin by Daniel T. Jackson

The first of a few fantasy books on this list (I bloody love fantasy) is Aiduel’s Sin by Daniel T. Jackson. You’ll remember from last year that his debut novel Illborn was featured on my end-of-year list too and the sequel is on this year’s!

Jackson has firmly slotted himself into the group of early authors (as in, they’ve not written a lot yet) whom I will confidently keep picking up the books of.

Riding off the pluses of Illborn, Aiduel’s Sin takes us on a further epic adventure with the characters from the first book whilst introducing new ones. Major story arcs begin to happen stronger opinions of characters are formed and even changed and the world and plot widen and thicken. These are all a blueprint for a successful sequel and one that means I will, without a shadow of a doubt, be picking up the third book in the series whenever that may come out!

Read my full review of Aiduel’s Sin | Buy Aiduel’s Sin from Amazon

6. The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding

I picked up The Ember Blade after I was kindly sent the sequel The Shadow Casket. I bought The Ember Blade, did some research on it, saw that people loved it, picked it up and read it and absolutely fell in love with it. I’m not sure if my elation afterwards was my utter surprise at how fantastic it was or how genuinely fantastic it was. Either way – what a book!

There are slight notes to Lord of the Rings in the book but then any fantasy book that features slightly young-ish characters bonding together with others from different groups to go and complete a quest will also have people saying this.

Even so, once it gets its footing and Wooding worked out who he wanted the characters to be, I could not help but feel this was going to be one of the best fantasy books I’d ever read. And it really was. With wonderful personalities written in, a growing (and hopefully expanded in the sequels) world and a plot that had just enough substance to keep my reading, I absolutely adored this book and cannot understand why, despite it being months later, have not yet picked up its sequel The Shadow Casket.

Read my full review of The Ember Blade | Buy The Ember Blade on Amazon

5. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

What a beautiful book The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah is. It’s a book about a mother who must, after an incident, bring up her children alone in a location (the infamous “dust bowl” in America) by herself. She has to fight to not only keep them housed and fed but also keep them sane and happy as they grow older.

I’ve since seen a lot of Kristin Hannah and have seen her book The Nightingales mentioned quite a bit and featured by some book clubs. With how wonderfully The Four Winds was written, I can’t help but think I will definitely be picking up more of her work in 2024.

Read my full review of The Four Winds | Buy The Four Winds on Amazon

4. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

As I said in my honourable mentions above, I’ve loved everything that I’ve read of Backman’s so far. So when I picked up Anxious People I went into it with full confidence that I was going to love it also.

It’s a unique plot in which a “bank robber” escapes a bank robbery in a block of flats after demanding cash in a cashless bank. They then find themself stuck in a flat during a house-viewing which causes the police and initially those involved to believe it is now a hostage situation.

With his trademark mix of sense of humour and deep self-reflective conversations, Anxious People made me laugh, thinking about my own life and also kept me utterly gripped by what happens to these people whom I’ve now grown so attached to.

Everything Backman touches seems to be made of gold in my eyes and Anxious People was my favourite I read of his this year.

Read my full review of Anxious People | Buy Anxious People on Amazon

3. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Another book that I bought based on some of the incredibly positive comments I’d already seen about it, Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is an absolute joy to read.

It’s the only book Garmus has ever written but it was brilliant enough that it was quickly swooped up by Apple for a TV series starring Brie Larson with Jason Bateman on as an Executive Producer.

The story tells the tale of Elizabeth Zott, a genius chemist during a time when American society didn’t have a place for women geniuses. However, her intelligence, stubbornness and eventual deep love for one man cause her to go places she never thought she’d go including becoming one of the most successful and influential TV stars of her generation.

With comedy, clever writing, empowerment and inspirational moments, this book will be a recommendation from me to absolutely everybody who asks after it.

Read my full review of Lessons in Chemistry | Buy Lessons in Chemistry on Amazon

2. The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett

Janice Hallett is one of my favourite authors. Every book she’s written I have thoroughly enjoyed and I think The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels may just be her best yet.

If you’ve not read anything from Hallett yet, all of her books are written in the modern-day day media. So instead of reading paragraphs and chapters, the book is set out using texts, emails, pamphlets, voice recordings etc. The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels uses most of these media still continues to produce an incredibly gripping story.

Using this method, Hallett manages to squeeze some real genuine personality out of each of the characters as she can literally write out how they’d text or email someone, using their syntax to build out a unique personality for them.

With all of this and a sweeping plot with twists and turns and a very tense final 50 pages or so, I was really truly impressed with this and that’s why it’s my second favourite book of the year.

Read my full review of The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels | Buy The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels on Amazon

1. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

This is the final book in one of the greatest, if not the greatest, trilogies of all time – are we really surprised it’s this high?

When I started Lord of the Rings a while ago with the first book, I fully expected it to underwhelm me and to have not stood the test of time. Yes, there are some very long chapters that could have been removed to speed up the plot but other than this, the series, and this final book in particular, are almost flawless.

Featuring brilliantly written characters (excluding Frodo who we all know is meh), one of the most detailed and intriguing fantasy worlds ever written and a plot that almost anybody in the world could loosely recite back to you, there is very little to dislike about The Return of the King.

I’m a huge fantasy fan – I love almost everything about fantasy and I explained why one might consider it the greatest form of fiction too and The Return of the King is the absolute peak that every other fantasy book has to aspire to be like. You’ve got to tick every box there is in fiction and to still be able to do this with three separate books, each of which has audiobooks over 20 hours long and keep the reader’s attention is simply a feat very few books in any genre can do. But Lord of the Rings, and The Return of the King as the final third of the series, does this.

Read my full review of The Return of the King | Buy The Return of the King on Amazon

So there you have it…

Those are the absolute top bangers I read this year. I love reading and so when I’m reading and then finish books like all of those above and come out wanting to talk to everybody about them, it fills me with great joy and reminds me when I love reading so much.

Some of the books above will forever be on my list when people ask me what they should read next. Yes, some are genre-locked; if you don’t like fantasy, there’s no way I’d be recommending Lord of the Rings. But this doesn’t mean that those who aren’t fans of the fantasy can’t appreciate why someone else might think they’re great.

What about your favourite books?

So those are the top ten best books I’ve read this year, with some honourable mentions, but what are the best books you’ve read this year?

Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to know which of my top ten you’ve read, which you haven’t read but might not based of this list etc.

As I said, use the comments below or feel free to drop me a mention on social media by searching “@lukesblog1” on your favourite platform.

List of all of the books named:

To make it nice and easy for you to quickly pick up the books, here’s a full quick list of my reviews and Amazon links for all of the books:

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