Wednesday, January 3, 2024

What I Read: 2023

 You can see my previous wrap-ups here: 2022 20212020201920182017

My goal for this year was 70 books, and as of this writing I'm sitting at 73 with just a couple hours left on my audiobook and about half of my physical book to go. So between now and New Years I may make it to 75 which would tie for my highest volume year since I started logging them!

Best Non-Fiction: 

My love of an audiobook commute continued. My top picks for memoirs, (a phrase I never thought I'd say) were Greenlight by Matthew McConaughey and Storyteller by Dave Grohl. I would listen to Matthew McConaughey read IKEA manuals, so this probably would've made the list even if the writing was bad. Thankfully it wasn't. He's an odd duck with an artist's perspective, but he's so authentically, unapologetically himself that it didn't feel obnoxious. Storyteller just made me feel glad that this person exists in the world. I'm not a music person, much to my husband's horror, so it was really interesting to hear/read some of the backstories behind really powerful cultural phenomena. Dave Grohl is a truly decent and good human and it comes through in his book. And while I wouldn't put it in my top reads, I think an honorable mention needs to go to Brittany Spears' The Woman in Me. Because patriarchy. This book was really polarizing when I started to talk about it with people and I think that warrants thinking about. 

This year I really loved the dystopian fantasies and the "WTF is happening?" genre, so you'll see those well represented. 

Books I gifted to others or obnoxiously demanded that people read: 

Fourth Wing: I found this one late in the year but I flew through it, then the sequal, and now I'm anxiously awaiting the next book. If you love dragons and books like Divergent/Maze Runner/etc. read this one ASAP. Also, the author did a really lovely job of writing about Ehler-Danlos while still keeping with the setting. 

Remarkably Bright Creatures: I would love to tell you that this book and my tattoo are unrelated, but I think this one cinched my love of octopuses. It's not non-fiction (obviously) and it goes beyond a "story about an octopus." It's just lovely. 

Books I loved about witches: 

It was a sleeper category but one that did not disappoint. 

Thistlefoot. Apparently 2023 was the year of Baba Yaga because the myth was featured in a lot of different things I read. This one sat on my TBR shelf for a while but when I picked it up, I devoured it. Two siblings with magical powers inherit a house on legs. I loved it a lot

Weyward. I love stories about female relatives. I love stories with multiple narrators. I love multiple timelines. This one hit all of those for me and was just delightful.

The Once and Future Witches. OMG. I wanted to take up arms. Sisters fighting the patriarchy with magical powers. It was amazing. 

I'm including Tress of the Emerald Sea here too, even though she's technically not a witch. But she is magic so it counts. I'd love to read this one with one of my kids. 

Books that lived up to the hype: 

Demon Copperhead. Just read it. It's amazing. I read David Copperfield a million years ago, probably drudged through it because I remember nothing. But this was phenomenal. 

Hang the Moon. Not my absolute favorite Jeanette Walls, but she knows how to tell a story. 

My favorite "WTF is happening?" books:

Sharkheart: OMG. I think my favorite part of this book is how smoothly she introduces a concept and we all just went with it like, "Oh sure. There could totally be a genetic predisposition to turning into animals and this is what that world would look like." It's very much in the vein of Nothing to See Here. 

How to Sell a Haunted House. This was the year of Grady Hendrix and while they can't all be My Best Friends Exorcism, this one was super weird and included a lot of creepy puppets. Honorable mention goes to Horrorstor. Or if you need to be a little more connected to reality, The Final Girl Support Group

Cutting Teeth. Sarah told me this was weird but for some reason I wasn't fully prepared for just how weird it was going to get. I've always lamented the lack of child zombies and this is what I get. 

Audiobook series that were absolutely worth it: 

The Nevernight Chronicles. Dystopian magical fantasy. Loved it a lot. Only a few spicy scenes but some very graphic war battles if you're listening in the family car. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses: I couldn't get through these fast enough! The narrator changed midway, which was disorienting, but I muscled through it. LOTS of spicy scenes if you happen to accidentally be listening with a fifth grader. My friend calls it "fairy porn"

I'd love to hear any recommendations for 2024. I've set my goal at 75, which is a teeny bit of a stretch but also I finished one on the 1st and my arbitrary ethics wouldn't let me count it for 2023, so I'm hoping I'm giving myself a headstart. And I just downloaded "Of Time and Turtles," which I've been waiting MONTHS for. Also if you did a wrap up, put your link in the comments! 


  1. You're the second person to rave about Demon Copperhead today. I really should put this on my 2024 read list!

    These were my 5-star books from 2023 (though many of these books aren't new releases):

    Favourite Books (Fiction): Falling by T. J. Newman, The Book of Seven Truths: A Tale of Hope and Restoration by Calvin Miller, Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano, All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard, The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman

    Favourite Books (Non-fiction): A Heart That Works by Bob Delaney, I Feel Bad About My Neck, And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron, Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer

    1. OMG! You have so many I haven't read yet! Thank you!

  2. Loved your headings, and Ioved a bunch of these too and have added some to my holds (both the memoirs, and the Nevernight Chronicles— I also care more about violence than sex with the kids) . THE BRITNEY BOOK was wild on several levels. Now imagine you recommended Cutting Teeth to the sweetest preschool teacher you can imagine. OMFG. I agree about Hang the Moon— Walls is a genius, and I think I expected too much from her because it was a terrific story.

    1. As soon as I hit the part about the teacher, I cringed remembering that you'd recommended it to Minnie's teacher!

  3. Cool!! I really enjoyed the Dave Grohl and the samples of the Brit Spears memoir I've seen.... Loved Demon Copperhead and Remarkably Bright Creatures. I really wanted to get into Fourth Wing and couldn't. Really want to try Court of Thorns and Roses too...

  4. I had to try Fourth Wing twice, but it was totally worth it!