A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.
George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

It has been an excellent year of reading (again!) I truly do not understand how the non-reader gets through the day… happily that is something I will never have to experience because reading is essential to my day!

I am most profoundly grateful for my local library… most of what I have read, I read courtesy of my library. My reading life is all the more richer and fuller thanks to them! I love the people that work there… they are some of my favorite people on the planet! They were some of the first to welcome me to the area when I moved here 10 years ago!

It was a stellar reading year for me… I read a whopping 106 books! I read more this year than last year, but less than other years. But the most amazing statistics from the year show how really magnificent my reading was this year!

I doubled my Netgalley books this year… I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to read 26 ARC’s (advanced reader copies) and so many of these books (Netgalley books are flagged with **)  made my “best books of the year” list!

I listen to books… a lot! Of the 106 books read, 54 of them were audiobooks and almost every single one was courtesy of my library!

There were 7 books that I did not finish this year… books that just weren’t for me. Years ago, I would have felt guilty to not finish a book… but “bailing” on a book was something that I embraced in my Year of Release… it was one of the best things ever.

I read LOTS of books that I gave a 5-star rating… of the 106 books… I gave 46 of them a 5-star rating.

So you might now be wondering how one chooses the best from that many “best” choices… well, I have some criteria for my Best Reading of 2023. The books on this list have stayed with me since I read them. They have delightfully lingered and for some of these books… they inspired me to read them more than once!

So here is my Best Reading of 2023 List… I highly recommend every book on this list! (They just might change your life!!) There are 11 books here with each book better than the one before it…. so when you get to the bottom, you have reached the best book of my year.

  • Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro (I loved this book so much that I immediately re-read it.)
  • The Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude and Inciting Joy by Ross Gay (I think a bit of Ross Gay every day is a very good idea! I will be reading more of him in 2024!)
  • No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister ** (a book about the power of a book is one I have not stopped thinking about!)
  • Sarah Winman… yes, just the author! I read 3 of her books this year and each one was tremendous, thought provoking, and each lingered in the most wonderful way!
  • The Comfort of Crows by Margaret Renkl. ** This book is life changing… and I loved it so much that I am going to spend the entire year with it… in my backyard. Two weeks in and I am discovering new things already… I can’t wait to see where my backyard and Margaret take me!
  • Above Ground by Clint Smith. A moving volume of poetry that took me back in time to when my children were small. I loved Clint, but these poems reminded me of a forgotten time!
  • Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward. ** This book was so necessary in a time where the “whitewashing” of history is happening in real time. I have not stopped thinking about Annis and her journey.
  • Brotherless Night by V.V. Ganeshananthan. I would not have even known about this book were it not for the Read With Us book club… we read The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida and I needed to know more… so a bit of Googling led me to Brotherless Night. This story is one that has not left me, it reminds me that even the obscure story needs to be heard!
  • My Friends by Hisham Matar. ** This was a Netgalley book that “picked me” … an editor emailed (I am sure a volume of readers) and suggested I might enjoy this book. I am so glad I followed her suggestion! This book would have been my top read (if I did not read Rilke and Tommy Orange!) This book opened my eyes, changed how I think about the displaced… refugees… those without a homeland. Thank you, Hisham for writing such a compelling, beautiful, heartbreaking story!
  • Rilke… my goodness, I love Rilke so much. I read two Rilke books this year (a re-read of one by a different translator.) The more I read Rilke, the more I want to read more. There will be more Rilke in 2024 as well!
  • This last book barely squeaked under the wire… Wandering Stars by Tommy Orange ** (it will be out next March) It has only been a few days but I have not stopped thinking about the Star Journey. This might be Tommy’s best book ever… at least until he writes another one! Ha!

There you have it… 11 books… roughly 10% of my reading year.

I will be back tomorrow with my Year of Unraveling review!

Photo by Anthony 🙂

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