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.

Steven’s Top 5 Games (in random order)

(Unfortunately, most of the games we sell are not listed on our website, so please call us or drop by to reserve your game choice.)


Radlands is a neon-soaked post-apocalyptic Mad Max-style 1-vs-1 smackdown. You each defend three bases while trying to take the other’s bases down by paying water to play characters with special abilities and launch events that shake things up. The game is compact, so easy to bring with you to a friend’s house during the Holidays.

(Bonus tip – if you prefer your cardplay more sci-fi, we also sell Star Wars – The Deckbuilding Game, in which you defend locations from your opponent, buying or destroying cards from a central row.)


Mindbug was co-designed by Richard Garield, one of the designers of Magic: the Gathering (which we also sell in our stores). It consists of a deck of cheerfully illustrated creatures that both players draw from. These are played in a duel against the other player, trying to reduce their health to zero. However, each player also has two mindbug cards that allow them to steal a creature that their opponent played at a critical moment. This leads to a lot of entertaining mind-games. Breezy to teach, plays fast and is very portable.


On the lowest end of the difficulty spectrum, rules-wise, we find Skull. Each player receives a stack of beautifully illustrated beermats, most of which show a flower and one of which shows a skull. Then, in turn, each player either puts a beermat face down in front of them or calls out how many beermats they will be flipping over. Other players can choose to outbid them. If they manage twice to flip over the promised number of mats without finding a skull, they win the game. Each time they fail, they lose a beermat until they are out of the game. Perfect game for a raucous party!

Rising Sun or Blood Rage

If you’re feeling territorial, why not duke it out with your friends on a map to find out who reigns supreme? If you are Viking-inclined and like drafting cards to shape your tactics, Blood Rage is your game. If you prefer a feudal Japan setting and like to negotiate, Rising Sun is best. Both are great games from designer Eric M. Lang and they look beautiful on a table.


Bid like an Egyptian in the beautiful new edition of a classic game—Ra, by prolific designer Reiner Knizia. Over the course of three ‘epochs’/ rounds players bid on tiles that will gain them points at the end of the game in ways that are different for each set of tiles. Tactically deciding which bids to focus on, which to let go and the slight uncertainty when a round will end exactly make this a tense and engaging game.


Top 5 in no particular order:

The Singing Hills Cycle books (four so far, starting with The Empress of Salt and Fortune)- Nghi Vo

If you love stories, and the telling of them, you’ll love these novellas in which Cleric Chih and their neixin (a talking spirit in bird form) travel their world to record local tales, history, myths and anything else that makes their head turn with interest. There is generally a surprising amount of danger during the tale-telling, too. I’ve loved getting lost in these stories of clever empresses, proud tiger spirits, trumpeting mammoths, roving bandits and divines with not-so-divine pasts. For such slim novellas there is a lot of world here to get lost in!

For all of you who love Becky Chambers books, and other authors who lead with gentleness.

Lessons in Chemistry – Bonnie Garmus

Part feminist rage story, part love story, part parent-child relationship story, part unexpected friends and family story – this book, like the best mixtures, has a little bit of everything, and the sum is greater than its parts. It is filled with memorable characters (both good and vile)—also, who doesn’t love an intelligent dog?—and I love the belief Zott has in people and their ability to be more and do more than what a restrictive culture has decided is possible. I laughed and cried, and I was angry and vindicated and humbled.

Always Coming Home – Ursula K. Le Guin

I know, I know, another Sophie Top 5, another Ursula K. Le Guin book. But I can’t help it that this woman speaks to me on such a molecular level, okay? Always Coming Home reads like an anthropologist’s notebook, full of folklore and history and traditions and personal observations and descriptions of tools and habitats. But it’s set in Earth’s future, and echoes of our current lives can be felt throughout. Reading this was an extraordinary experience. I hope our future selves have much in common with these imagined folks.

Witch King – Martha Wells

If you love entertaining characters who are *very* comfortable with their powers (magical or otherwise) from the get-go, superior world-building, and dual timelines telling the story of an oppressed region’s rebellion only to find itself in peril again, then this is your book. The bad guys are suitably evil and powerful, the good guys have great banter and empathy. The only snag for me was the ending—it ends at a proper moment, but surely there’s a whole last act out there still waiting to be written? Please?

Translation State – Ann Leckie

I’ve loved all of Ann Leckie’s books, and this one is another fantastic addition to her Radch world. You can certainly read it by itself, but there are some outstanding roles put aside for characters from her earlier books that absolutely doubled my enjoyment. If you’ve never read anything by Leckie, you’ll enjoy this title if you love properly weird aliens, musings on what makes us worthy, found families, literal space bending, denialist fanatics intent on blowing things up and soap operas that teach you a thing or two. Oh, and a bit of body horror.

Honorable mentions new-to-me books:

A Snake Falls to Earth – Darcy Little Badger (warm First Nations YA story with great book design)

Small Things Like These – Claire Keegan (quiet and powerful)

The Enchanted April – Elizabeth von Arnim (cozy classic)

Too Like the Lightning – Ada Palmer (philosophical science fiction set on future Earth that teaches you a lot about Enlightenment philosophy).

Favorite re-reads:

The Machineries of Empire books – Yoon Ha Lee (starts with Ninefox Gambit)

Daisy Jones and the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid

This Is How You Lose the Time-War – Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone.


The Maniac –  Benjamin Labatut

The Private Lives of Trees – Alejandro Zambra

A Death in the Family  – Karl Ove Knausgaard

So Late in the Day – Claire Keegan

Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut

Honorable mentions:

In Our Time – Ernest Hemingway

Gospel of the Eels – Patrick Svensson

Tokyo Express – Seicho Matsumoto

Not Even the Dead – Juan Gomez Barcena

When We Cease to Understand the World – Benjamin Labatut