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.


Ducks – Kate Beaton

A graphic memoir where Kate starts to work at oil sands in Alberta, Canada, in order to pay her study debts.

Even though I didn’t have any expectations, I finished it in one evening.

Island of Sea Women – Lisa See

A book about female divers (haenyeos) whose lives and friendship are tested by the dramatic 30s in Korea. I loved this story of female friendship, love, betrayal and the will to survive.

Killers of the Flower Moon – David Grann

True crime story about mysterious deaths in the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma in the early 1920s. I read this book this fall for the second time after I’d seen the movie, and I still think it’s one of the craziest, devastating detective stories about greed, unfairness, stupidity and savage lying. Hard to even believe, but it’s a true story.

I highly recommend you read the book first before deciding whether to see the movie.

Homelands – Timothy Garton Ash

Overview of European postwar history since WWII with all its rights and wrongs.

“Europe, my Europe, was—and still is—about the struggle for freedom.”

Lessons in Chemistry – Bonnie Garmus

Feel good story about female chemist who refuses to obey social conventions in the early 1960s.

She is fearless, independent, smart and confident. And she is the TV star in a cooking show (with a little dash of chemistry).

I loved this book!


Starling House – Alix E. Harrow

I have read a few of Harrow’s books and love how she spins fairytales or myth into her own new stories with engaging prose, and Starling House was no exception. Stories about haunted houses have fascinated me for a long time, so I was happy to discover one of my favorite authors created a story about one as well.

It takes place in Eden, Kentucky, a small town which is only known for the legend of E. Starling and the mysterious-looking and overgrown house at the edge of town. Whereas everyone in town would rather let the house rot, Opal (the main character) is determined to discover the true mystery behind the house and why she continues to have very vivid dreams about it.

Recommended to those who desire their haunted house stories less terrifying than Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and is a perfect read for these darker months.

Penance – Eliza Clark

The perfect read for true crime fans. It’s a dark and gritty account of a fictional crime in a fictitious seaside town in northern England. It’s so well done that you come to think the crime, the history of the town and all the characters are real. Luckily it’s not!

A Prayer for the Crown Shy – Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers never disappoints, to be honest. I was thrilled to return to Panga and read about Sibling Dex and Mosscap’s journey and their search for answers to questions such as: “What do humans need when they already have everything?” Much like the first novella, the second installment in the Monk & Robot series was like a warm hug. Definitely novellas I will return to in the future.

A Fate Inked in Blood – Danielle L. Jensen

This book won’t be published until February next year, but I was lucky to get my hands on an advanced reader’s copy. It is a Norse-inspired romance/fantasy about Freya, a shield maiden who desires to become a warrior and get as far away as possible from her brute of a husband. When a bloodthirsty jarl learns of her existence, he binds her to him through a blood oath, because he believes she will be the key to him becoming king of Skaland. Combine all this with a forbidden love interest and you get a book that will hook you from the first page. That was definitely the case for me!

Great for readers who love a kickass female main character who isn’t afraid to speak her mind.

Lapvona  – Ottessa Moshfegh

It’s hard to describe this book, but I can say that it’s a weird and disturbing one. It’s dark and gloomy and not for the faint of heart. I’m a fan of Moshfegh’s writing, as she turns out to be very good at creating unhinged women, but Lapvona was definitely on a different level compared to her previous novels and short stories.

The story goes that a medieval village is plagued by tragedy and grief. Over the course of four seasons, each of the characters looks for some sort of spiritual guidance, Biblical or otherwise. However, there’s something more powerful than God lurking around the corner….

Honorable mentions:

Natural Beauty – Ling Ling Huang

Legends & Lattes – Travis Baldree


The Terraformers – Annalee Newitz

This was selected for our Utopian Science Fiction reading club at Felix Meritis. I would otherwise never have read it, but its vision and characters, smart and humorously constructed, have stuck with me. Grateful for this recommendation!

Let’s Become Fungal! – Mycelium Teachings and the Arts – Yasmine Ostendorf-Rodriguez

Unusually formatted, I was at first put off. But once I randomly picked up this collection of teachings gleaned from conversations with indigenous wisdom keepers, artists, curators, feminists and mycologists, I couldn’t put it down. The formatting and tactile feel of the paper used actually drew me in. I couldn’t put it down.

Swimming Home – Deborah Levy

Because a friend of mine was so enthusiastic, I read all of Deborah Levi’s books this year, but this is my favorite. The curious characters and their interconnections are revealed slowly, their losses and longings emerge layer by layer. It’s one to keep thinking about.

Hot Milk – Deborah Levy

Another good one, exploring mother-daughter relationships. Mothers give you milk, but if it’s too hot to drink, they are annoyed when you reject it. Daughters hungry for nurturing, but are aware that moms can be dangerous to one’s health….

Ali and Nino – Kurban Said

Pfff, this is a good one to reread now. This love story between a Muslim boy from Azerbaijan and a Christian girl whose family were Georgian is set a little over one hundred years ago in Baku, just as oil wealth is upcoming. The author is worth a story on his own, having written under two pen names after leaving for exile in Berlin, Hollywood and Italy.

Tom Reiss wrote a fascinating biography of the author entitled The Orientalist, “the true story of a Jew who transformed himself into a Muslim prince.”

And I just can’t resist adding this one for timeliness:

The Ornament of the World: how Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain – Maria Ros Menocal

Before reading this book, I had no idea that for more than seven centuries, these disparate believers lived together in a place where literature, science and the arts thrived. One of those books that shifts one’s perspective.