Here we go again with our 5(ish) favorite reads of 2023! We try very hard to keep it to five, but it’s not always possible. So, there may be five or six suggestions, an A and a B list, memorable reads or just plain marvelous books.
This year we’re presenting our lists in bite-size chunks to make them even more digestible. We have more than 150 titles for you to sink your teeth into.
We hope to inspire you to read – and play! – some more.

Iris W.

In no particular order:

Starling House – Alix E. Harrow

Of all of Alix Harrow’s books that I’ve read (which is all of them), this is definitely my favorite so far! It features a girl and her brother, a boy and his haunted house, a cat and a lot (a LOT) of mysterious, troubled family history.

This read is perfect for the darker months of the year: it is moody and gritty, quite dark and a little gory at times, but with such a big heart and plenty of wholesome moments to keep you going. Highly recommended for anyone who’s into the darker side of urban fantasy.

Some Desperate Glory – Emily Tesh

A massive departure from the cozy, folkloric novella duology I’ve read from this author before, Some Desperate Glory is an ambitious sci-fi dystopian story that weighs in at almost 500 pages. The main character, Kyr, comes from a small, militaristic human colony and has been trained as an elite fighter pretty much from birth. She’s fast and proud and honestly pretty ruthless, and she knows she’s destined to avenge the destruction of Earth. Until some things happen that turn everything upside down, and Kyr starts to wonder… what if her people are not the good guys after all?

Nothing But the Rain – Naomi Salman

In a drizzle-covered town where the rain makes people lose their memories, a grumpy old lady is dealing with the situation as best she can: imposing experiments on herself, keeping a record of her days and abiding by a buddy system, even though she dislikes the one assigned to her. But when she doesn’t trust the things her buddy is getting involved with, everything changes….

It is no secret that I have a deep and abiding love for novellas, and this is another winner. This book is only 96 pages long, but it packs a punch many full-length novels don’t manage. The twist ending in particular had me screaming out loud.

The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi – Shannon Chakraborty

When this author’s debut novel came out, I was lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC (advanced reader copy). But for some reason, I didn’t like that one as much as I’d hoped; it just wasn’t for me.

Having read the synopsis of this title, I found that it sounded right up my street, but I still went in with a little apprehension, wondering if I’d be disappointed again. I needn’t have worried because this book is GREAT!

It’s a celebration of kickass women, (found) family, living by your own rules and fighting for what you believe in, even against all odds. I love that the main characters are older, definitely not the stereotypical young heroes, and have lived through many adventures before embarking on this one. It gives the story a sense of solidity and groundedness, even though it’s also full of mystique and mythology.

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a different kind of swashbuckling story!

The Mimicking of Known Successes – Malka Older

Another science fiction novella, because we all know I can never resist them. This one is set on Jupiter, where Mossa, the main character, is an investigator who is sent to look into a man’s disappearance. Her investigation leads her to reunite with Pleiti, a former college friend who might have been a little bit more than that. The steampunky feel of the Jupiter settlement, the cozy academia vibes and the dynamic between Mossa and Pleiti make this a delightful read for a rainy evening. And good news: a second part is coming in February!


Drowning – T.J. Newman

Stewardess turned thriller writer. With all her knowledge she knows how to deliver the thrills of a disaster combined with crime. Great page-turner!

Billy Summers – Stephen King

This is hardly a thriller but more a literary work from the Master of Horror. His characters are amazing, which is what makes him such a great storyteller.

The Throat – Peter Straub

One of the best thrillers by Straub about multiple serial killers. His writing skills are amazing, and his plot is an accomplishment to behold. Part of the Blue Rose trilogy (Koko & Mystery), which you can read separately.

The Book of Eels – Patrik Svensson

An amazing biographical and informative book about the history of the eel, a creature we still know very little about. The eel information will blow your mind. Amazing non-fiction book!

Sunny Side – Lily Morton (ebook – not available at ABC)

This M/M romance is so sweet, with nicely drawn characters and just a very pleasing story of two opposites who find each other in love…and sex, which can be a bit graphic at times.


The Anthropocene Reviewed – John Green

A big thanks to John Green for writing a book that encourages me to look at the world with hope and wonder.

This is a collection of essays where John writes about various topics from Canadian Geese to Dr.Pepper in a way that is lighthearted and humorous yet profound and gives them each a star rating. He writes in a way that feels like you’re listening to a friend tell you a story, which makes the book super accessible, especially for a non-fiction book. What John teaches us with this book is that if you pay enough attention, everything in the world can be magnificent and interesting.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers’ books were the first sci-fi novels I ever read, and man did she set the bar high. This book is so full of warmth and comfort, I feel so attached to the characters and the world Chambers created, that I’m not ready to say goodbye. Which is why I immediately bought the second book.

This book isn’t centered around plot, although there is some, but the focus is rather on pealing back the layers of each character and the evolution of vulnerability and intimacy amongst the crew members. Each character is full of depth, quirks and imperfections. It’s all about friendship, thoughtfulness, empathy and, most of all, finding your chosen family.

I’d highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a more wholesome approach to sci-fi or if you’re simply looking to try it out.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow – Gabrielle Zevin

It was incredibly refreshing to read a book that is all about the depth and value of platonic love and how it can be just as valuable and fulfilling as a romantic one. I loved how Zevin centers on playfulness, both in the story itself and in her writing style.

I was worried that because I’m not much of a gamer myself, I would have trouble following along, but Zevin writes in a way that I can appreciate and understand the characters’ world and their fascinations. What really set this book apart for me was the chronic pain and disability representation, and particularly the mental toll this has on a person.

The Cybernetic Tea Shop – Meredith Katz

This is a sweet and gentle story about a technician and a robot who fall in love. Although this book may be short, it isn’t at all lacking in depth. I’m a huge fan of books that make me think, and this book invites philosophical/existential questions such as: What makes us human? is it our ability to learn new things? a robot can do that, or is it our ability to feel? An AI has sensors that can be programmed to feel just about anything. This set against the backdrop of a cozy tea shop combined with asexual representation made for an extraordinary read.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built – Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers has done it again. So far, I’ve read 6-8 books she’s written, and they never disappoint. This one, however, made me cry, not out of sadness but out of comfort and joy. I recommend this book to anyone who needs a little reminder that productivity isn’t everything. That it’s more than okay and, as this book argues, even necessary to slow down, take a moment for yourself and enjoy the little pleasures in life.

Honorable mention: I know I’ve raved a lot about Becky Chambers already, but if you’re looking to try out her writing style, either for yourself or as a gift for a friend, I especially recommend her book To Be Taught if Fortunate. This was the first of her books I read and since then have (clearly) been obsessed.