In the whirlwind of motherhood, searching for a great book to read in a moment of downtime can be a challenge. But fear not, because I’ve compiled a list of the best books to read in 2023. These stories promise to transport you to new realms and provide a moment of solace amidst the busyness. So, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, carve out a cozy nook, and let’s explore the world of literature together.

This year, I read 41 books, mostly while I was nursing my daughter. What a blessing to be forced to slow down! But the rate at which I was reading significantly declined when my nursing journey ended in September. This year, I am looking to build some more intentional reading time into my routine since it’s not being forced upon me like it once was. I’d love to hear your tips for what you do in the comments!

*I use affiliate links to share products with you. If you use the link to make a purchase, the cost of the book doesn’t go up for you. However, I will receive a commission and I do appreciate your support.

Pango Books

For those looking to expand their reading horizons beyond Amazon, consider exploring the world of Pango Books, a fantastic platform that offers both the joy of buying and selling used books. While the links in this post conveniently direct you to Amazon for your purchase, diversifying your sources brings its own set of benefits. Pango Books not only allows you to discover pre-loved treasures but also supports a sustainable approach to reading, promoting the idea that a well-loved book deserves a second chance on someone else’s shelf. So, whether you’re a buyer or a seller, Pango Books provides a delightful alternative to enrich your reading experience. Use my code BRITTANY451196 to get $5 off your first order of $20 or more.

10. Hello Beautiful
by Ann Napolitano

Coming in at #10 is Hello Beautiful, which is an homage to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. This was a slow story with well developed characters. One of my favorite things about the story was how the author managed to move your focus from one character to another, hearing their story, following their struggles, and feeling it alongside them. It is about a man named William who falls in love with a girl who has grown up in a tight-knit family.

9. Nathan Coulter
by Wendell Berry

The serene world of Port William is one of my favorite places to be. Nathan Coulter has a story that unfolds against the backdrop of a tight-knit community, where the land and its people intertwine in a beautifully slow dance. Having explored several gems in the Port William Membership series, I can vouch for the captivating simplicity and emphasis on relationships. If you’ve savored the unhurried charm of this community, Nathan Coulter is a must-read that adds another layer to the tapestry of Port William life.

8. In Cold Blood
by Truman Capote

In October I read Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. This gripping true crime masterpiece came my way through a book swap with my husband. I suggested he delve into the intrigue of The Count of Monte Cristo, and in return, he recommended this haunting exploration of a real-life crime. Little did I know, I was about to immerse myself in a riveting tale that blurs the lines between journalism and storytelling. If you appreciate true crime with a literary touch, this one’s a must-read!

7. Small Mercies
by Dennis Lehane

You might recognize some of the movies that were based on Dennis Lehane’s books, like Shutter Island or Mystic River, among a number of others. Small Mercies was just released this year and was the first book of his that I’ve read. It was sa uspenseful story that takes place in Boston during the summer of 1974. A mother, driven by the fact that her daughter turns up missing, decides to get to the bottom of the matter by her own means.

6. The House of Eve
by Sadeqa Johnson

The House of Eve has stuck with me since I read it at the start of the year. One scene in particular often replays in my mind. This is a story of two women whose lives begin to intertwine in an unexpected way. There are themes of redemption and second chances, as well as the effect of gender, racism, and poverty on the decisions the characters make.

5. All My Knotted-Up Life
by Beth Moore

This book was passed around my entire family shortly after it came out. We each took turns reading it and then talking about all the parts that stood out to us. This memoir is a great read for anyone who is enjoys stories about life in the south, you don’t have to be familiar with Beth Moore to pick up this book. She shares about her childhood, marriage, and motherhood. All of which have had some challenges and difficult loss. I really appreciated her stories of ministry, especially when she broke away from the Southern Baptist convention in 2018. Beth Moore’s writing is thoughtful and moving.

4. Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Brontë

I read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë with my book club this year, and it sparked an unexpected, but profound conversation about the essence of community. Jane’s resilience and the intricate web of relationships in her life became a poignant backdrop for discussing the strength found in connection and support. If you seek a novel that not only captivates the heart but also inspires meaningful reflections on relationships, Jane Eyre is the perfect literary companion.

3. Angle of Repose
by Wallace Stegner

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner is a masterpiece that left me utterly captivated as I listened to the audiobook version. This literary gem weaves together the complexities of love, art, and the American West, creating a tapestry of emotions that resonates long after the last word. Stegner’s prose, coupled with the immersive storytelling of the audiobook, made every moment an unforgettable journey.

2. The Buried Giant
by Kazuo Ishiguro

I really enjoyed the haunting and mysterious story of The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro, a book that became a captivating centerpiece for my book club discussions this year. Set against a backdrop of post-Arthurian Britain, Ishiguro’s narrative explores memory, love, and the impact of forgetting. It brings up the question: Do you prefer knowing everything about a person, or would you rather be blissfully ignorant of some details? The prose and thought-provoking themes led to rich conversations that lingered, much like the enigmatic mist in the story. If you’re drawn to tales that blend myth and reality, inviting contemplation long after the final chapter, this novel is a compelling choice.

1. Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott

After reviewing all of the books that I read this year, it was easy for me to put Little Women by Louisa May Alcott at the top. I enjoyed it so much, that I wrote an entire blog post about the book (“Little Women Book Review & Guide”) where I delve into the fascinating background of L.M. Alcott and the inspiration drawn from Orchard House, creating a deeper appreciation for the March sisters’ journey. The heartwarming narrative beautifully explores love, sacrifice, and the pursuit of dreams, making it a timeless classic. Plus, I’ve included discussion questions—perfect for engaging conversations with friends or your own little bookworms. Dive into this literary treasure and join the enchanting world of the March family!

Other Highly-Rated Books from 2023

In addition to sharing my top ten best books to read in 2023, I’ve curated an exceptional list of 4-star rated gems that didn’t quite make the Top 10 cut but are definitely worth checking out. (I read so many great books this year!) These books, while not in the spotlight, offer captivating stories and diverse experiences that could be the perfect find for fellow book enthusiasts.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Finding Me by Viola Davis

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier
for ages 8-10 years old

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

She Works His Way: A Practical Guide for Doing What Matters Most in a Get-Things-Done World by Somer Phoebus and Michelle Myers

Nothing Else But Miracles by Kate Albus
Kate Albus is the author of A Place to Hang the Moon, which I reread this year. I have written a Book Review and Guide for both of these books that you should check out if you plan to read it with your kids!

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
One of my favorite authors. She is so smart!

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Child Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

Bea and the New Deal Horse by L.M. Elliott

The Lazy Genius by Kendra Adachi

Books I Read for the Second Time in 2023

I also wanted to add this special list of books that earned the rare honor of a second read in 2023. While they may not have secured a spot in the top 10 due to the revisiting criteria, these captivating reads are a testament to their enduring appeal and the joy of rediscovering a cherished story.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus

Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
Read my blog post about Kate DiCamillo to learn about all her wonderful books, some background information about the author, and some guiding questions to share with your kids as you enjoy her books.

What Were Your Favorites?

So there you have it, a curated selection of the best books to read in 2023, designed to be your companions in the precious moments you carve out for yourself. These books are not just stories; they are invitations to unwind, reflect, and find joy in the simple pleasures. Happy reading, wonderful moms! May these books add a touch of magic to your daily routine.

If you are interested to follow along with my reading journey during 2024, be sure to follow me on Instagram or check out my TBR on Goodreads. And don’t forget to share below: what did you think were the best books to read in 2023?