2023 in Books!

Why yes I’m using the same photo from last year AND the year before but we’re unbothered by it. (my new word for 2024, but we’ll get back to that tomorrow.)

Books! Let’s discuss.

I read a total of 30 books in 2023. Which isn’t record-setting or anything. Matter of fact it’s significantly less than previous years, but again, we’re unbothered by it. 30 is still something to shake a stick at! (I have a feeling that’s not the phrase at all.)

Here I am on GoodReads for those who’d like to follow along, while I’m thinking about it.

Okay we’ll go in three rounds here. Three rounds of ten. And of course as I’m looking at these I’m like, “What were these even about again?” Ha! Oh.

The Family Remains – YES. Lisa Jewell is one of my absolute favorites, and you’ll need to promptly bump this up for 2024. It’s a sequel to The Family Upstairs, so if you read that one and remember just how wacko that family was, GET IN THIS ONE NOW. It explains everything.

An Unwanted Guest – Shari Lapena is another favorite and I have plans to devour more of her this year. Takes place in the Catskills in the middle of winter. Electricity goes and people start dying. ‘Nuff said? Do it.

The Five-Star Weekend! I’m in this book, did I tell you? I’ve blabbed enough about it. Make it happen.

The Peach Keeper – OMG. I have solid plans this year to swallow more of Sarah Addison Allen. This was divine. A beautiful setting, family drama, an inn to renovate, an old flame. Need I go on?

The Chicken Sisters. It was cute! Takes place outside KC (in a fictional town) with plenty of sister drama, fried chicken and dueling restaurants.

Sister Stardust – ooooooh. Takes place in the ’60s with a heavy dose of childhood trauma and female friendship. A lot of it takes place in Morocco, so you’ll get vivid imagery of what life was like back then, amid rock stars, drugs, partner swapping, all the debauchery. It’s good!

Overthinking in your Underwear – A hilarious self-help book by my friend Lindsay! Even if you feel like you’re under control in the self-help arena, it’s still a productive and enlightening read. And absolutely hysterical.

Happy and You Know It – SO GOOD. Manhattan elite, playdates with their spoiled babies, yoga pants for days. And lots of illegal drugs where you’d least (truly!) expect it. Do it.

Not a Happy Family – Yiiiiikes. Another Lapena and we’re loving it. An older wealthy couple is brutally murdered in their mansion over Easter weekend, and all four of their grown kids are suspects. It’s captivating, and you have no idea what to think like 89% of the time. And that last line! LOVED.

It Starts With Us. There’s a lot of hate for this out there, but I really enjoyed it. Not her best, but a little closure, after It Ends With Us. I say go for it.

Summerland! Elin can do no wrong. This was a little tough for me to get through because it was about boy-girl twins, and one dies in a car crash. Her writing though, like I’ve always said, is supreme. Heartbreaking story, yet still bathed in the warmth of summer, like she does so perfectly.

This is Where I Leave You – I’ll say this: liked the book, but I loved the movie more. Which is extremely rare for me. The book had a crass, male-centric feel to me (rightly so, as it’s a man grieving the loss of his father, wife, home, life. but he sexually objectifies nearly everything and it gets old.) The family dynamics are humorous at times, but very raw. In a sometimes good way. Watch the movie.

Romantic Comedy – it was cute! Definitely followed the script for a rom-com book, but VERY aware of itself. It’s quick and fuzzy. And takes place in KC! It gets my vote.

Mad Honey – holy moly. In my top favorites of the year. It’s a love story. It’s a murder story. It’s a trial. It’s the pain of family roots. It’s an unexpected bombshell in the middle that will have you literally gasping. Like out loud. An audible WHAT. Make this happen.

Happy Place – it’s exactly that. Emily Henry is a machine when it comes to giving us what we want. A cozy, summery atmosphere, a steamy setting, a broken heart (or two), and what happens when you have to fake something that’s not (or is it?) there. Loved it.

The Husband’s Secret – O.M.G. Another absolute favorite of the year. Dang it, Moriarty, you are good. The secret is not at all what you’d naturally jump to. It’s a WILD AND CRAZY ride of a book and I need you to bump this up.

Our Missing Hearts – meh. (let me expand here, as I’ve offended. I just mean that aside from the heartbreaking dystopian society focusing on racism against Asian Americans, I wasn’t hooked in her storytelling. Never meant to offend!)

Wish You Were Here – WOW. Takes place right at the start of the pandemic. March of 2020, so those panicked feelings will resurface a time or two. It’s a wonderful book. The twist is outrageous and I never saw it coming. I absolutely loved this.

Other Birds – Sarah Allen, you have my heart. This was rich with beauty. Sprinkled with a bit of fantasy that I didn’t mind at all. A lovely story about a girl finding her way in life, and how the people placed in it can really change it. You have to read this.

Nora Goes Off Script – this was great! Such fun. VERY cozy. You’ll fall in love with sunrises again, in a new way. Yes, it’s cliché at times, but we’re unbothered by it. Matter of fact we embrace it. The book does what it needs to do for our soul.

Snowed In – (these are in backwards order) It was cute! Exactly what you’ll want for next December. Two old friends who fake a relationship to get through the hassle of family at Christmas, then surpriiiiise surpriiiiiiise.

The Christmas Box – meh.

Tom Lake – ABSOLUTELY loved. The book pivots from the mom’s younger theater summer life, to the current pandemic life while her three daughters are home taking care of their family cherry orchard. It’s just beautiful. Young scandalous love. Current stability. Lots of cherries. You just MUST.

Locust Lane – oooooooo! There are four friends. And then there’s a murder. Everyone’s a suspect. It’s a close look at how race and status affect the criminal process. It’s juicy and very surprising. Highly recommend.

Only One Left – YES PLEASE. Riley Sager is incredible, and this Agatha-esque story will floor you. It’s the story of a family brutally murdered in the night, and the young daughter is to blame. She’s grown old now, and is damaged, mute, and hidden away in a decrepit mansion and you will LOVE the twist. This is a yes.

Pineapple Street – make this happen please. It all takes place in Brooklyn. On, you guessed it, Pineapple Street. We get a microscopic look at a well-to-do family’s inner churnings. It’s sharp, it’s funny, it’s elite.

None of This is True – OMG. Lisa, you win. It’s a TWISTED story about two new friends with the same birthday, and the lies told just to be close to someone you “connect” with. It gives Single White Female, but waaaay more psycho. You’ll obsess.

Commonwealth – I loved it! Not quite as much as Tom Lake, but was still touched. It’s the story of how one kiss destroyed two families, and set them off in completely different directions. But the overlap is painful and frustrating. It has a lot in it, a lot of grit. You need to read this, is what I’m saying.

The House on the Cerulean Sea – it was great! LOTS of fantasy, which is not my thing, but I was still touched by the sweetness of the whole thing. As everyone says, this book is a hug, and it’s completely true. It gives Potter meets Oz meets Wonka meets Narnia. If that’s your vibe, this is your book.

Me Before You – gosh. Like I said, this is all in the wrong order of which I read, but we’ll end here. It was REALLY sweet. Frustrating, funny, awkward, annoying, and amazing. A girl gets sent to a home to watch over a man in a wheelchair. Except, he’s not old. And he’s like, hot. I’ll leave it there for you.

If I had to pick a top five: Mad Honey, Husband’s Secret, Tom Lake, Other Birds and Five-Star Weekend!

Okay, I just started Hello Beautiful and I knew immediately it was the right decision. Here’s my upcoming pile. Tell me what to add! I also need your favorites from the year.

Okay, your turn!

9 Responses to 2023 in Books!

  1. Natalia January 4, 2024 at 9:09 am #
    Wohooo! I recommended The Husbands Secret and I’m so glad you liked it cause ITS TOO GOOD Also added like 5 if this to my Goodreads I’m currently reading Hit and Run (no clue, I found it on a bookshelf randomly) next up is The Housemaid
  2. Kristie January 4, 2024 at 10:40 am #
    Great recap!! I have several of these on my TBR already and added a few more. Mad Honey was my top book of 2023 and None of This Is True in the Top 10.
  3. hammondzoo January 4, 2024 at 11:20 am #
    House in the pines, meh. Thank you for listening if you haven't already read. :)
  4. Sally January 4, 2024 at 12:07 pm #
    I just finished the Lost Ticket and looooved. Very sweet and cozy. You Were Always Mine by Jo Piazza and Christine Pride was a favorite. And currently reading Yellowface and I’m HOOKED!
  5. Cassie January 4, 2024 at 12:30 pm #
    Just had to come on here and say our missing hearts was one of the most gut wrenching books I’ve read in a long time! And probably deserves a bit more than meh when discussing racism against Asian Americans! All for if it’s not your cup of tea but the not-so-far-fetched imagined future the author created was scary & an important read and I’d hate for someone to write off reading it because you decided to give it a one word recap.
    • Bev Weidner January 4, 2024 at 1:19 pm #
      Oh, Cassie! I never meant to offend. My meh was probably insensitive, so I apologize for that. Aside from subject matter, I just meant her storytelling wasn't anything compared to Little Fires Everywhere, which I found profoundly more enticing. But you're right, I should have gone a little deeper into my meh. I'm sorry for that.
  6. Liz January 4, 2024 at 1:03 pm #
    Mad Honey was one of my favorites as well, and I loved Wish You Were Here! I am currently engrossed in Tom Lake. Books I read in 2023 that you might also like: Weyward by Emilia Hart - It's the story of three women in different time periods dealing with battles against society, mainly men. It's not always the most comforting read, but I found myself clamoring to figure out the connections between the generations, and it's a bit of an homage to the strength of women. The witch/supernatural isn't always my thing, but this was more about a connection to the natural world. The Finley Donocan Series by Elle Cosimano - It's a fun crime fiction with a character you can't help but cheer for. A good amount of snarky banter and a fast-moving plot full of twists and turns. The first one in the series is Finley Donovan Is Killing It. Next up for me this year: Chain-Gang All-Stars, Family Meal, and Happy Place Thanks for the recap! I have added a lot of these to my reading list!
  7. Christy January 4, 2024 at 3:13 pm #
    You're going to love The Plot!
  8. Natalie January 6, 2024 at 12:50 pm #
    If you're not currently reading "Anna O", what are you even doing with your life?! Join me. I'll take your jacket for you. Stay awhile. OMGGGGGG

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