2023 was an interesting reading year for me.

I didn't seriously participate in any reading goals and had a flexible goal for myself. I wanted to continue reading whatever suited my mood and follow the flow. My reading tastes started changing in 2023 and halfway through, I stopped struggling against the change and went with it. It led to a shift in my reading picks.

While the number of books I read in 2023 was less than how much I read in 2022, I'm satisfied with it. I read widely across genres, picked longer and harder books, and read more thought-provoking books.

I had more books to recommend in 2023. I had something to say about every book I read and often spoke to my friends about my recent reads. The words stayed with me longer than usual.

However, it wasn't hard to decide on my best books of 2023. Some books clearly take the trophies.

the king's men by nora sakavic

the king's men book cover

The first book on my list HAS to be this one. I'm sure that I'll be rereading this for years to come.

Why The King's Men is on this list:

  • I've never seen the found family trope done this well.
  • It made me FEEL. SO. MANY. FEELINGS.
  • The character growth in this book (& series) is remarkable. Some of what they do is questionable but you understand why and it's BEAUTIFUL to see them heal and grow.
  • I read the entire book 5 times in the last few months. And that's only counting the times I read it fully, not the times I read from the middle or only some parts.
  • It has the most precious set of characters that you can't help but root for. I want to go into the book and give them all a hug.
  • All the characters have been through trauma and heal with each other.
  • The relationship growth is phenomenal. And not just in one relationship, there were multiple that went through phases and grew. Friendships! Romance! Group dynamics! Even the coach-athlete relationship!
  • It has become one of my comfort reads. It is the perfect book to read when I'm feeling sad or disappointed.
  • All the platonic relationship focus made my heart warm. I've never before seen platonic relationships revered so much when romantic relationships are present in the story.

I'm surprised that this series is underrated. However, every person I know who has read it raves about it like I do. I hope more people pick up these books.

Read my review of The King's Men.

tis the season for revenge by morgan elizabeth

tis the season for revenge book cover

I first read this book at the beginning of the year and have reread it several times since then. Whenever I wanted a comfort read, I'd start reading this again.

Why Tis the Season for Revenge is one of my best books of 2023:

  • The character growth is heartwarming. Abbie heals and slowly blooms in this book and it's EVERYTHING.
  • Damien doesn't want a serious romance but he couldn't help but fall head over heels for Abbie.
  • The slow relationship growth is too good. Abbie and Damien bond by being who they are, without any pretences or big gestures.
  • The romance is incredibly comforting because, throughout, they support and comfort each other when needed.
  • Reading it feels like being wrapped up in a cosy hug.
  • It's a Christmas romance with all the magic of the season but it isn't too Christmassy that it alienated me (a person who doesn't celebrate Christmas).
  • The story has all the cozy and magical vibes of winter. I love winter stories with coats and scarves and snow and hot chocolate.
  • There is no third-act breakup!!!

Along with The King's Men, this book has been added to my comfort books list. I will forever compare romance books to this one because it's perfect.

Read my review of Tis the Season for Revenge.

daisy jones & the six by taylor jenkins reid

daisy jones & the six book cover

After all the hype about this book, and loving a few other books by the author, I finally listened to the audiobook. And I get it now.

Why Daisy Jones & the Six took my heart:

  • The story format was interesting and entertaining. I've not seen the interview format done with multiple characters. It was what made the book a hit.
  • It features musicians but isn't the regular rock & roll or pop star story. I've read enough books featuring broken star musicians who lose their way. But this book was different because of the back stories, the different relationships, and the time jump to the present.
  • I loved how passionate the characters were about music. It was nice to read about passionate characters following their dreams.
  • The full-cast narration in the audiobook is brilliant. I tried reading the ebook before but it wasn't that compelling. Audio is the right format for this story.
  • As usual with this author, the writing was a masterpiece. I was in the story with the characters, laughing with them and crying with them.
  • I couldn't stop listening to the audiobook! I finished it in no time and the story STAYED with me.

I sometimes dream about how listening to this book felt and feel like starting it again. I tried the TV show but stopped within one episode, it was not giving the vibes.

Read my review of Daisy Jones & the Six.

how to read a book by mortimer j. adler and charles van doren

how to read a book book cover

I read a few non-fiction books in 2023 and while I enjoyed most of them, How to Read a Book stands out in a different league.

Why this book is one of the best:

  • As an avid reader, I didn't expect to learn a lot about the art of reading but I was sorely mistaken. This book properly breaks down every part of reading and teaches how to make the most of every book we read.
  • It is not an easy book to read but is so rewarding.
  • I can't describe the amount of information and knowledge imparted in this book. Every chapter had something to teach.
  • This is not a book to be read once. It is a book that has to be read multiple times over time, learnt from, and learnt from again. It has so much that I don't think I could put everything into practice immediately. It will take time and practice.
  • I didn't think it was possible but it made me much more motivated to read more books.
  • It made me want to read widely and go out of my comfort zone. It made me want to read books on mathematics!
  • For a book published in 1940, its content is still relevant.
  • It doesn't talk about pure fiction because they're readings for pleasure, but it gives a guide to read every other kind of book.

This book took me by surprise and made me realize just how less (and callously) I read. So far, I've been putting only one of the suggestions to practice and it has already made my reading experience better.

Read my review of How to Read a Book.

perfect strangers by j. t. geissinger

perfect strangers book cover

Once in a while, a book comes along that makes you want to give it an award. This was such a book.

Why Perfect Strangers deserves an award:

  • It is a romance book... only because it is the closest resembling genre.
  • The story SHOCKED me. I've read a lot but few books can genuinely shock me. I can't remember the last time a book shocked me like this.
  • The story gripped me hard and refused to let me go. I took my Kindle to work and read the last 10% there! I couldn't have worked peacefully otherwise.
  • It made me mad and close to ripping my hair out. The twists didn't stop coming and shocking me and I was going mad trying to keep track of it all.
  • I thought it was a regular romance book when I picked it up and I was soo wrong. It shocked me in a good way.
  • Whenever I think about good or interesting books, this comes to mind. I recommended it to a friend and she reacted to it just like me it is one of her best books of the year as well.
  • It's such a unique story. It's so different from anything else I've read.

I can't say a lot because it might spoil the story. All I will say is that I hope I come across more books like this.

Read my review of Perfect Strangers.

jade legacy by fonda lee

jade legacy book cover

After seeing The Green Boke Saga series praised so much, I finally read it this year. And what a series it was.

Why Jade Legacy is one of my best books of 2023:

  • The world-building is amazing. While an island is the main focus, the world-building goes far beyond that. Jade Legacy brought it all to another level by having political, economic, and natural developments across the world. The relation between it all was as complex as our real world is.
  • The character growth was brilliant. We follow multiple characters through their different arcs, through their highs and lows, and watch as they change due to situations. The series has an interesting cast. The last book spans decades so we see the growth and change in them all. It was captivating.
  • The plot was on another level. Book 1 set scene and the plot only grew better with each book. Jade Legacy was all about the slow war between the two biggest clans in Kekon. I've not seen a slow war in fantasy books before and it was interesting to see how small and big events affect the outcome.
  • Hilo, the main character, went through so much and changed so much. He was so different in book 1 and I liked him only a little. But in Jade Legacy, he was the STAR. I loved watching his growth.
  • This series had something different compared to the usual fantasy books. It shows the next generation and gives an idea of how things will go on after the events of the series.

This book was an outstanding end to the series. I will remember it for a long time.

Read my review of Jade Legacy.

forever your rogue by erin langston

forever your rogue book cover

At a time when it felt like there were no more good romance books for me to read, I came across this and it buoyed my spirits.

Why I loved Forever Your Rogue:

  • The fake dating/engagement trope is done so well. They get together for selfish reasons and have no intention of even being friends beyond that but end up bonding.
  • The characters were easy to root for. Cora's only goal is to protect her children and keep them happy. Nate has been through a few bad hands and is trying to turn them around.
  • Nate simps for Cora so bad and I loved it. At one point, he literally dreams of touching her hair.
  • The slow relationship development was to die for. They fell for each other in small steps and soon, were happy to carry on the "ruse" of being engaged. It was adorable how they liked simple things about each other.
  • At the start of the book, Nate doesn't have a purpose in life. Soon, he finds it with Cora and her kids. They became his purpose. Watching him love the kids with his whole heart was so nice. They were his children in his heart.

This book was just so cute. A few scenes are embedded in my mind. It's one of the best historical romances that I've ever read.

Read my review of Forever Your Rogue.

remnants of a separation by aanchal malhotra

remnants of a separation book cover

This is another that will be on my shelf for years to come, with the intention of getting others to read it. I've already lent it to a friend and she loved it as well.

Why Remnants of a Separation was so good:

  • It explores the India-Pakistan partition through a new lens. Memories are explored through material objects which I've never heard of before.
  • It was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.
  • Instead of sticking to one view, the author has interviewed various people across the world who have different views.
  • Each chapter/story took a part of my heart. They were joyful and depressing at the same time.
  • The writing is too good. The author masterfully used words to convey meaning.
  • The interview format with bits of other historical facts and observations during the interview worked well.
  • It was so good that I wrote a full review after a long time.

I can't wait to read the author's A Language in Remembering.

Read my review of Remnants of a Separation.

yours truly by baby jimenez

yours truly book cover

I say that 2023 was a good reading year because I read many books that were the best books ever for me. Yours Truly is one of them.

Why I loved Yours Truly:

  • It has the most comforting and cosy fake-dating romance. The characters were new friends and colleagues when they decided to fake date for a reason. But because they're compatible and like each other as people, their relationship grows.
  • The characters clearly LOVE being with each other even before they accept that they're in love. This is something that I don't see often in romance books. Both the characters in this say "we've been dating/living together for some time, I LOVE IT". That's so cute!
  • Often, romance books are all about complicated emotions that they forget to depict the simple joy that love brings. This book doesn't make that mistake.
  • I love how the characters were friends first and slowly fell in love. They were clear on their boundaries, were aware of the other person's needs, and made an effort to show up for each other. That's one of the "lessons" of the book, to show up for the people you love no matter how they're doing—to be there for them, to provide what you can, and be ready when they finally reach out. I loved that.
  • The characters were easy to root for. We learn their vulnerabilities, see them opening up to each other, and see them grow. Knowing what each of them went through, it feels even better to watch them find joy in each other.
  • Usually, I hate the miscommunication trope but it was done well here! It added meaning and purpose to the romance.

I've reead this book at least 7 times so far. It's too good. It's another comfort read that's been added to my list.

Read my review of Yours Truly.

sapiens by yuval noah harrari

sapiens book cover

I've heard a lot about Sapiens and it has been in many "best books" lists. I finally picked it up to see what all the fuss is about. I get it now.

Why Sapiens deserves all the praise:

  • It's an easy-to-read account of the human history. History books are generally not very easy to read but this one was a breeze.
  • The author has done a lot of research and it shows. The book is filled with historical changes and developments across the world. It's not limited to America and Europe.
  • The book is written with an almost completely neutral perspective on history. No narration can be completely unbiased but this is close. The author doesn't go against religion or any specific concept. However, he has studied to understand how they came to be and what changes they brought.
  • Many developments were written in the form of cause-and-affect. I liked how the author showed that one change led to several other changes. It was a chain reaction, not independent development.
  • The book made me THINK and wonder, which is always a sign of a good book. It made me relate concepts from across time to current days, it showed me new perspectives, and taught me a lot.

I want more people to read it and have already lent my copy to a friend.

Read my review of Sapiens.

chat with me!

What were your best books of 2023? (If you've made a post on them, let me know! I'm looking for recommendations for next year.) Have you read any of the books I mentioned above? Or are you adding them to your TBR? Tell me in the comments!

photo of Sumedha

Sumedha spends her days reading books, bingeing Kdramas, drawing illustrations, and blogging while listening to Lo-Fi music. Read more ➔

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  • anoushka says:

    OHMYGOSH SUMEDHA I LOVE THIS SO MUCH AND AM DEFINITELY TAKING NOTES FOR BOOKS TO READ IN 2024. i've NEVER had the fabulous fortune of reading a romance book with no third-act breakup, so when you said tis the season for revenge doesn't have one?? it's never seemed extremely intriguing to me BUT i will read it just to experience what a book WITHOUT a third act breakup feels like. BECAUSE THAT IS SUCH A RARE AND UNHEARD OF OCCURRENCE OKAY.

    i read daisy jones in book form in 2022 i think BUT IT DEFINITELY WASN'T THE BEST FOR ME (it PALED in comparison to evelyn hugo and i'd read evelyn before so i was disappointed??) but maybe i should try it in audio again this year, BECAUSE YOUR DESCRIPTIONS MAKE IT SOUND SO BEAUTIFUL LIKE THAT.

    ALSO JADE LEGACY. "the relation between it all was as complex as our real world is" NO BUT HONESTLY?? I haven't read a perfect fantasy book in AGES BUT THIS SOUNDS BETTER AND BETTER THE MORE I GET TO KNOW ABOUT IT I NEED OKAY.

    anyway. i'm so GLAD 2023 was such a great reading year for you AND FINGERS CROSSED 2024 LIVES UP TO IT TOO.

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      i agree, books with no breakups is so rare so whenever i read one like that, i HAVE to mention that fact 😂

      oh yeah daisy jones is the best on audiobook! the normal book just doesn’t have the same charm and is actually meh.

      oh yeah the jade city series is TOO good, you HAVE to read it!!

      i’m looking forward to your thoughts on any of the books! hope you have a great reading year as well!!

      Reply ➔
  • May @ Forever and Everly says:

    omg was this your first time reading the all for the game books? i'm so glad you enjoyed them so much!! i recently reread the first two books and will reread the king's men soon, i'm so excited. i love how every fan agrees that it's a terrible series but also the best thing ever lol. it's so wild to me that there are still people finding and reading the books in 2023! i'm excited for the new book about jean too haha! and i've never heard of remnants of a separation, but the way you describe it makes me really want to pick it up. it sounds like the exact type of nonfic i'd love, so thank you for the rec! i hope you have lots more great reads in 2024 <3

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      yes, it was my first time reading them! a friend had recommended it to me about 7 years ago but i didn’t read them until now 🙃 i didn’t know there’s a book about jean coming out! will be keeping an eye out for it 😌

      remnants is genuinely a GEM. i hope you enjoy it. wishing you a great reading year as well ✨

      Reply ➔
  • Alice Myles says:

    The audiobook for Daisy Jones and The Six is just spectacular - definitely the best way to experience that story! Super interested to see that you enjoyed All For The Game books, I remember seeing them everywhere back in 2016 when I first joined the bookish community but I've never gotten around to checking them out - I definitely will now!

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      agreed! and is it? i don’t ever remember seeing the series spoken about, interesting. do give it a try though! it’s brilliant

      Reply ➔
  • nimeesha says:

    nicely wrapped up sumedha! I have heard so much about the king's men. I will definitely read it this month. Jade legacy was also in my tbr for a very long time. Well, I am surely going to add all the books u mentioned here to my tbr. They look very interesting. I tried watching Daisy Jones series which came up this year. I did not like it and I am not sure to pick the book as well. I can see that u have tried various genres this year, yayy! I hope u have a great year ahead!

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      thank you, nimeesha! oh do try the foxhole court series! it’s so addicting, you’ll finish it in no time haha.

      i didn’t like the daisy jones show as well—stopped in the second episode—but the book is a hundred times better, trust me.

      i hope you have a great year ahead as well!

      Reply ➔
  • maya says:

    ahh, i've only read daisy jones out of these but i've been meaning to read All For The Game for SO long but i've been afraid that it wouldn't be to my taste. i'm probably going to have to get around to reading it now, i suppose!
    completely unrelated, i don't think i've visited your blog (rather just read the posts) but your design is amazing—so clean and easy to navigate!! if you don't mind me asking, which plan & theme are you using? thanks and happy new year ♥♥

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      All For The Game is SO GOOD though! every person i know who has read it, is obsessed with it!

      ah thank you so much, maya!! i’m not using a wordpress plan, i’ve self-hosted with BlueHost and just integrate with wordpress. i bought the Fairchild theme from Studio Saroya on etsy 😊

      Reply ➔
  • Manjushree says:

    Yay! That's a lot of books to add to my TBR. I've started this year with Sapiens and I'm soo excited to continue through. These are some amazing recommendations!

    Reply ➔
  • Isha V says:

    Happy new year!! Oh, so happy to know that you enjoyed Jade Legacy. It’s a book that haunts me to date, but there hasn’t been a series as satisfying as Green Bone Saga. I recently read one AJ book and I enjoyed her writing. I can’t wait to pick Yours Truly after reading your thoughts. I read a couple of J T Geissinger’s books last year and wished there were books like those. I’m adding Perfect Strangers and Remnants of Separation to my TBR! Wishing you have a great reading year ahead 🍀

    Reply ➔
  • mesal says:

    a couple of these are definitely going on my tbr. i see we have rather different taste in books, though, but if you're still curious i did put up some of my favs from this year over at my blog!

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      i hope you enjoy them! i’ll check out your list 😊

      Reply ➔
    • abookowlscorner says:

      The three books on this list that I've read - The King's Men, Daisy Jones & The Six, Jade Legacy - are all on my own favorites list (or are going to show up there once I get around to writing them 😅), so I obviously take that as a sign that I need to check out some of the others ASAP! Like, you've made me so curious about Perfect Strangers now - that description sounds thoroughly intriguing!

      Anyway, happy New Year, Sumedha! Hopefully, 2024 has even more amazing books to offer!

      Reply ➔
      • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

        No but you HAVE to read Perfect Strangers! I will say - it’s not for the die-hard romance fans but it is for everyone else and especially people who like interesting books 😂

        Thank you, Naemi!

        Reply ➔
  • kymberli says:

    They all sound so interesting, adding to the never-ending TBR pile, lol. I posted my favorites onto my blog, http://www.kymberlibriggs.wordpress.com

    Reply ➔
  • Yesha says:

    ooh perfect strangers is on KU, I’m definitely downloading it. Amazing list!

    Reply ➔