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.


Primeval and Other Times – Olga Tokarczuk (not availabe at ABC)

The English Understand Wool – Helen DeWitt

From What Is to What If – Rob Hopkins

A Silence Shared – Lalla Romano

The Melancholy of Resistance – Laszlo Krasznahorkai

Honourable mentions:

The Book of Goose – Yiyun Li

The Child and the River – Henri Bosco

Tomb Sweeping – Alexandra Chang


Memories of Ice – Steven Erikson

Together with my colleague Jouke, I am reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. It’s high fantasy with a very large cast of characters and amazing ideas and concepts. This is the third book in the series and it deals with themes of eternity, forgiveness, war and empathy. I started this series because the author is an archaeologist. I am currently doing a Masters in archaeology, so it combines my two favorite things—archaeology and fantasy.

Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami

I have read some of Murakami’s work before this book, and I have always loved his mix of the magical, philosophical and real life. This book, however, is by far the strangest of his I have read. It follows two characters on their journey of self-discovery and growth. It takes place in our world, but with a lot more strangeness that leads to so many different interpretations. I absolutely adored it!

Jade Legacy – Fonda Lee

This is the last book in the Jade series, and oh boy is it a good one. It is a fantasy book that takes place on a planet much like our own, but with a small amount of magic in the form of jade. Jade gives people powers such as speed and strength, but is only found on the island of Kekon. Kekon is inspired by different East-Asian cultures, and the themes present reflect many of the issues we deal with today. I started the series because of the action, but I stayed for the characters and themes.

Salem’s Lot – Stephen King

This was my first Stephen King book. While I saw some of the movies based on the books, I always thought that Stephen King must be overrated. I was wrong! This book has all the horror you can think of, but it is also much more philosophical than I was expecting. It asks questions about evil and humanity, while scaring your socks off. I could not stop reading because of the constant tenseness he creates. This was my first—but definitely not my last—Stephen King.

Babel – R.F. Kuang

I like when books make me think. I LOVE when fantasy is used as a way to conceptualize issues and questions we deal with in our world. This book is the perfect example. It adds just a bit of fantasy to our world to ask questions about the relationship between language, empire, colonialism and humanity. Kuang creates a magic system that embodies these themes. I won’t spoil more, but if this sounds interesting to you, please go read it!

kafka on the shore

New Animal – Ella Baxter

Baxter’s writing is so exceptional that I was shocked to find out that this is her debut novel. The protagonist is a cosmetic mortician who longs to find solace in the touch of others, using meaningless sex as a means to escape death, which engulfs her existence. Devastated by the sudden loss of her mother, she seeks distraction from the grief that consumes her through pushing her body’s boundaries.

Baxter delves into the complex and raw emotional journey of a woman’s quest for comfort amidst profound loss, leading her down unexpected paths, including the world of BDSM.

This novel is a skillful exploration of the lengths people will go to escape grief, beautifully written, heartfelt and, at the same time, hilarious.

Time is a Mother – Ocean Vuong

There is something about Vuong’s writing that I can’t quite explain. In his second poetry collection, he navigates the aftermath of his mother’s passing, grappling with the conflicting emotions of grief and his determination to move forward. Throughout the verses, Vuong explores the concept of losing control, portraying moments of intense self-destruction and a relentless quest for intimacy. Despite the darkness in his prose, there is an underlying innocence and a fervent yearning for beauty. These poems delve into the profound depths of loss, abandonment, trauma and war, yet they do not breed nihilism or apathy towards life. Instead, Vuong sees death as one’s future rather than their past, approaching it with a sense of curiosity and acceptance.

Kitchen, by Banana Yoshimoto

Surprise, surprise: another book about death and grief. Yoshimoto’s debut novel is brief but profound, nonetheless. The writer delves into two important truths about life: its inevitable end and its inherent beauty. Even in the tiniest moments, there exists a profound beauty that we often hold dear, especially as life unfolds towards its end. The protagonist is intimately familiar with loneliness and grief, expressing the idea that it is okay to embrace it and dwell on it, which is especially reassuring for those who fear stillness, of “wasting” time in a world that keeps moving. Yoshimoto’s writing is almost spiritual, showing us how certain spaces can be our anchor, as well as the healing power of tenderness, of nurturing ourselves and others.

Lapvona – Ottessa Moshfegh

Lapvona defies expectations as a departure from Moshfegh’s usual first-person narratives of bitchy and depressed girlies (which I love her for). I was skeptical about a male protagonist in a medieval setting, but she did not fail to give us yet another gory, gruesome, and grotesque piece, which has become her trademark. The novel was pretty much bashed by many for the lack of depth of its characters, but I think that was precisely her point. They are so perverse that it is almost theatrical, so void of humanity that they are repulsive. Moshfegh’s vindictive creativity shines through, masterfully crafting a layered narrative with biting satire.

Down the Drain – Julia Fox

This one is the odd one out—the first and only celebrity memoir I’ve read, and probably ever will read. Funny, candid, raw and unapologetically honest, she is practically the only celebrity I would ever consider an icon. I knew this one would sell out immediately, and I was right. She is radically transparent about addiction, domestic abuse, sex work, toxic relationships, grief and mental illness. She’s been an it-girl, an artist, a dominatrix and complete white trash. I was so blown away by the chaos surrounding her life that I read it all in one sitting.

Fox is an exceptional storyteller with absolutely no filter: she owns her bad decisions, and is very far from the “woe is me” attitude—unlike most celebrities.