Well well well, if it isn’t the only thing I seemingly use my blog for these days (years?). I won’t bore you with 2024 resolutions about actually writing again, I’ll just get to the good stuff.

If the length of my book list doesn’t scream “hi I lived alone for the majority of the year in a city where I have 3 friends”, idk what does. 2023 was A LOT but you know what helped keep me sane? The library, my couch & cat (as a combo reading companion), and the book clubs I luckily discovered. Do you need to know how many book clubs I’m in? No. Was it 4? Mind your own business.


Best Poetry & Short Stories

  • You Could Make This Place Beautiful, Maggie Smith | I honestly have no words for this one. Somehow Smith wrote a poetry book that’s a memoir in chapters… but still pieces of poetry. I think it deservers it’s own genre. Her writing is so honest, gorgeous, and funny. I think of her next question response on a weekly basis.
  • And Yet: Poems, Kate Baer | Kate Baer forever and always, amen. While I didn’t love this one quite as much as her debut collection, I still devoured it.
  • My Monticello, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson | I am typically not the biggest short story fan, but I was pleasantly surprised with these. To be fair, one was almost half the book – so maybe I liked that it wasn’t too short of a short story. Extra interesting for me as I currently live within driving distance of Monticello.
  • Special Mention: The Secret Life of Church Ladies, Deesha Philyaw | I actually read this one a few years back, but my book club recently discussed it and I forgot just how great it was. The characters are so real, it feels like you’ve met them – and a handful pop up in later stories, which are some fun easter eggs. Also HBO is apparently making a mini series out of it, so you know what to do: read it before the show ruins it (and then watch the show anyway).

Best Fiction

  • All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr | I read this a few years back and LOVED IT. I decided to do the audio book on a long drive with my parents and I rediscovered how great it truly is. Honestly makes me want to read it a third time. This is the WWII novel that puts all other WWII novels to shame. The Netflix show is so meh for a book that is SO GOOD.
  • Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zevin | I avoided this book for a while because everyone told me it was about video games (I do not do video games besides a lil Mario Kate and I also could never get into Ready Player One). W O W was I wrong to avoid it. What a beautiful coming of age story about friendship and self awareness and, yes, video games.
  • Bright Young Women, Jessica Knoll | This is the true crime novel for all the true crime junkies… but it will also make you reevaluate your obsessions with serial killers (or at least how we tell their stories). This book keeps you on the edge of your seat because of what happens next and also because it has you judging yourself.
  • The Ink Black Heart, Robert Galbraith | I’ve loved this entire series, and this may be the best one yet. It’s LONG and a bit confusing to read at times because the plot involves online chat rooms (sometimes multiples at once), which are hard to illustrate in print, but it’s a five star British murder mystery.
    *As much as I love this series, this might be my last Galbraith read. J.K. Rowling’s (Galbraith is her pen name) insistence on being a loud voice in the online discourse around trans people is honestly very confusing to me, and also very sad. While I strongly disagree with her, I feel conflicted about simply not reading books by authors I disagree with. I don’t know the political beliefs of most authors I read. And I think there is benefit to reading different voices (even in fiction). But if someone is loudly saying hurtful things about your friends? I think you step away from that. It’s nuanced! I’m still exploring it.

Best Non Fiction

  • Searching for Sunday, Rachel Held Evans | I’ve been slowly going through Held Evans’ work since she passed because selfishly I want it to last forever. The honesty in these pages felt so comforting and so close to home. I resonated with a lot, especially her experiences with the Episcopal church. For anyone who has conflicting thoughts on Church, this book lets you ask the hard questions and promises to sit with you through them (but maybe not answer them… that’s kind of the point).
  • Spare, Prince Harry | Haters gonna hate – I loved this book. It was beautifully written with ghost writer, it was not gossip column fodder everyone wanted it to be, and it felt so true to Harry. The parts about the army droned on a bit for me, but I appreciated the honesty and the hard work (read: therapy) that got him to where he is. I think toxic family structures and good-but-hard boundaries are so common and yet barely talked about; I really admire Harry (and Meghan) for the work they are attempting.
  • Catch and Kill, Ronan Farrow | This is NOT an easy read, as it is a very detailed account of reporting on (and ultimately breaking the story of) Harvey Weinstein. But it reads like fiction – if you squint your eyes a bit, you think you are reading a thrilling spy novel with no real world consequences. Farrow did an incredible job making something so heavy and dense into a book you can’t put down.

Most Original / Special Mentions

  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, V.E. Schwab | This was sliiiiiightly too fantasy-esque for me to absolutely love, but it was beautifully written and a concept that really draws you in. I think it was a tad bit too long, but A++ for originality and a story you will continue to think about.
  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Suzanne Collins | It feels strange to like this book, because it’s quite dark and depressing. But if you loved the Hunger Games trilogy (I recommend re-reading all 3 before you pick this up!) – Collins does a great job with this one. Some pre-quels feel too much like money grabs, this one felt really thought out. I think it either needed to be shorter or its own trilogy – but the development of both Snow and the Capitol was a really fascinating read.
  • Yellowface, R.F. Kuang | I have never read a book I enjoyed so much with a main character I hated so much. Definitely worth a read!
  • Becoming Kin, Patty Krawec | This is one of the books I know I’m going to re-read multiple times in my life, because it was so dense. Krawec has a fascinating view of the world growing up removed from her native heritage but finding it later in life, and the way she uses (and unpacks) language is next level. I especially loved her thoughts on Christianity. I learned so much in this short book.
  • The Measure, Nikki Erlick | This one had one too many story lines for me, but was such an interesting read! A+ concept.
  • Remarkably Bright Creatures, Shelby Van Pelt | Have you ever read a book where one of the main characters was an octopus?! This was so fun. I found it a bit slow at times, but overall great read. I’ve heard from multiple people the audio book was phenomenal – so that might be the way to go.
  • Woke Up Like This, Amy Lea | A fun rom-com that was a bit more original than your average rom-com.
  • The Rose Code, Kate Quinn | I will be the first to admit we have one too many WWII era novels with multiple story lines. But this one is set at Bletchley Park, which I LOVE, and does a great job of tying in some real history with some good fiction. Solid four stars.

Full List: (once upon a time I linked out each book to Amazon and made approximately $4 in 5 years – but now their system is very convoluted and I am lazy. SO please Google these titles yourself and then shop at your local bookstore OR bookshop.org when able, use the library, and defer to Amazon as needed, which in full transparency I still do *sigh*)

  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, V.E. Schwab | discussed above
  • And Yet: Poems, Kate Baer | discussed above
  • Spare, Prince Harry | discussed above
  • The Reunion, Kayla Olson | This was a fun Hollywood rom-com that I, as a millennial, felt like the perfect target audience for
  • The Keeper of Lost Causes, Jussi Adler-Olsen
  • The Ink Black Heart, Robert Galbraith | discussed above
  • My Monticello, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson | discussed above
  • Georgie, All Along, Kate Clayborn
  • Wrong Place Wrong Time, Gillian McAllister
  • Forever, Interrupted, Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Girl Logic, Iliza Shlesinger
  • One Last Stop, Casey McQuiston
  • The Quarry Girls, Jess Lourey
  • Run, Blake Crouch | I love Crouch’s recent stuff, but I actually hated this one
  • The Guest List, Lucy Foley | Anything by Lucy Foley is a good read!
  • The London Seance Society, Sarah Penner
  • The Perfect Marriage, Jeneva Rose
  • The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
  • Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
  • Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Suzanne Collins | discussed above
  • Catch and Kill, Ronan Farrow | discussed above
  • Romantic Comedy, Curtis Sittenfeld | This was really great! I personally don’t love story lines built around Covid (call me traumatized), but it deserves its spot on all the “best of” lists this year
  • Honey Girl, Morgan Rogers
  • Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute, Talia Hibbert
  • Did You Hear About Kitty Karr? Crystal Smith Paul | Evelyn Hugo vibes #iykyk
  • Hysterical, Elissa Bassist | Some essays I enjoyed more than others, but I appreciated a chronically ill feminist POV
  • Rock Paper Scissors, Alice Feeney | I liked this one slightly more than Daisy Darker, but both great reads
  • Swimmers, Julie Otsuka
  • Daisy Darker, Alice Feeney
  • She Started It, Sian Gilbert
  • All Things Aside, Iliza Shlesinger
  • Searching for Sunday, Rachel Held Evans | discussed above
  • Happy Place, Emily Henry | There is no bad Emily Henry read in my book
  • One to Watch, Kate Stayman-London | As someone who had never seen The Bachelor before, I loved this!
  • Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty | Liane Moriarty is also one of my forever go-tos
  • You Could Make This Place Beautiful, Maggie Smith | discussed above
  • The First Ladies, Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray | Fun historical fiction! Dual authors gave it a nice touch
  • When We Left Cuba, Chanel Cleeton
  • Maame, Jessica George
  • Last Party, Clare Mackintosh
  • The Better Half, Alli Frank and Asha Youmans
  • None of This is True, Lisa Jewell
  • The Intern, Michelle Campbell
  • Yellowface, R.F. Kuang | discussed above
  • The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post, Allison Pataki | Also some Evelyn Hugo vibes, but actually based on a (insane) true story
  • Demon Copperhead, Barbara Kingsolver | Can you say depressing? Amazingly written, but just buckle up. I loved that I got to read this while living in Virginia
  • No Exit, Taylor Adams
  • The Woman in Me, Britney Spears
  • Remarkably Bright Creatures, Shelby Van Pelt | discussed above
  • Bright Young Women, Jessica Knoll | discussed above
  • Becoming Kin, Patty Krawec | discussed above
  • Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zevin | discussed above
  • The Measure, Nikki Erlick | discussed above
  • Radical Love, Patrick S. Cheng | this is pegged as an intro to queer theology, but it felt a bit intermediate to me
  • Woke Up Like This, Amy Lea | discussed above
  • Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn | for how good Gone Girl was, this was …not good
  • One Day in December, Josie Silver
  • All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr | discussed above
  • The Rose Code, Kate Quinn | discussed above


As always, find me on GoodReads and let me know your favorite reads of 2023!!

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