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The Books I Read {2023}

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It’s that time of the year where I share all the books I’ve read over the course of the year. I always try and read more than I read the year before. This year I set myself a challenge that felt unachievable – to read 78 books – and a couple of days before the year ended I finished book 78! I think I might aim for slightly less next year.

So here are all the books I’ve read in 2023:

1 – 3 – Julia Quinn – The Bevelstoke Series – The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever – What Happens in London – Ten Things I Love About You

Over the last couple of years I have loved working my way through Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton books and the Bevelstoke series it’s another great set of books, set in the same times and social circles as the original Bridgerton characters.

These books feature really lovable characters, ones that you really just hope find real love and happy endings. I love how these three books really must all be read for the loose ends to be tied up – and the final book is a work of art. It’s a really lovely book with just such a lovely story.

4 – Claire Douglas – The Girls Who Disappeared

I read this book with my book club and it was my first experience of Claire Douglas – and I loved it. A story that kept me guessing until the end, and one final twist saved for the closing pages. Plus, flashbacks to the past that really confused me at first until the story started coming together. So well written and a really great whodunnit.

5-7 – Jenny Han – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Trilogy: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – P.S. I Still Love You – Always and Forever Lara Jean

I watched a Jenny Han show on Netflix last year and instantly added the books to my wishlist. Fantastic teen fiction, these books follow a high school girl from 16-18 whilst she juggles all the typical teen issues around family, friendship, college applications and young love. Great books to read and Lara Jean, and her family, are just so lovely. Characters you easily fall in love with.

8 – Heather Morris – Three Sisters

Every time I read books about Auschwitz and the war I feel like I learn a little more about what people went through back then. It’s always a harrowing read but educational and Three Sisters is a beautiful story that I’m so glad I read. I have no idea how the three sisters survived but I am so glad they did – and I love that Heather gave us an insight into their lives since the war and the legacy they created.

9 – Wendelin Van Draanen – Flipped

This book was a great read. Seeing two children’s relationship grow and change over the course of years, all in the pages of one book. Unlike many other books of a similar format, Flipped is written from two children’s perspectives, alternating between chapters. However, both characters describe the same situation from their own points of views. It’s insightful, well written and fairly deep in places. A really lovely read.

10 – Taylor Jenkins Reid – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – *THE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR*

This was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Usually I find books with a lot of characters hard to read but this book was well paced, introduced each character – and husband – gradually and reeled you in slowly but surely, keeping you captivated until the very last paragraph. Such a great read and with one huge WOAH moment that I really wasn’t expecting.

11 – Dr Richard Shepherd – Unnatural Causes

This book was different to anything I have ever read before. It was interesting and engaging, really informative and educational whilst still being autobiographical. I feel like I learnt a lot from it and really enjoyed it despite the hard and often shocking subject matter.

12 – Lisa Jewell – Watching You

This book was a great read although I did guess the twists about halfway through it. Parts really creeped me out and some was just hard to read but so well written – voyeuristic teenagers, suicide, mental health issues, abusive relationships… There were so many themes within this book, with really complex characters, but I really enjoyed it.

13 – Wendelin Van Draanen Runaway

This book is so emotive. It’s written as diary entries and follows Holly’s experiences as a runaway, talking about her past, her hoped for the future and how she gets through life on the streets. It’s hard hitting but has a really lovely ending.

14 – Lucy Foley – The Paris Apartment – *ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR*

This book was so good! The story unravelled fairly slowly, but kept you gripped throughout. Told from so many different perspectives, and with so many main characters, I didn’t know if I’d get on with it or if I would keep track of what was going on. But, I was hooked from the start. The story sucks you in and I felt so invested from just a few pages in. I had to know what happened! I read it in basically 24 hours, and it was fantastic!

15 – J P Delaney – Believe Me

Woah, J P Foley books never disappoint. This book was like being on a ride in a pinball machine. It went all over the place, introducing different characters, having so many twists and finishing with everything so nicely wrapped up – and a curveball that I really wasn’t expecting. A real whodunnit style thriller, with a really dark storyline and characters that you didn’t even really scratch the surface of until the end of the book. I loved it.

16 – Christy Lefteri – The Beekeeper of Aleppo

I wasn’t very keen on Christy’s Songbirds book, I just didn’t enjoy it, and so I’d put off reading this one for a while. However, I really enjoyed it. It was a great insight into the life of Syrian refugees and what it takes to even contemplate leaving Syria and travelling to countries of safety. It was eye opening and emotive. I’m really glad I read it.

17 – Nadine Matheson – The Jigsaw Man

I love a murder mystery and this one was great! Much more gory/descriptive than other books I’ve read, and written mainly from the police perspective, it was really gripping and I was engrossed. Could not put it down! I now can’t wait for the next in the series.

18 – Jane Fallon – Tell Me a Secret

You can’t go wrong with a Jane Fallon book. So easy to read, you’re instantly absorbed into the story and you can’t wait to find out what happens. This was a great read, with many bits guessable but still a story that kept you hoping that everything would turn out ok in the end – and it does. All the loose stories were tied up so nicely at the end, A really good read.

19 – How To Kill Your Family – Bella Mackie

This book was a real slow burner for me. So wordy – with long words, long sentences, long paragraphs and long chapters. Everything was intricately described and explained, making it a really slow and often laborious read. But, I got into the story and really enjoyed it – until the end.

For me, the end came too quickly, as if the author was nearing the maximum word count and had to get everything wrapped up. I was expecting some of the ending – but the rest felt like it was too hurried and a bit of a cop out. That said, I did enjoy reading it, I was just disappointed with the ending.

20 – Nadine Matheson – The Binding Room

I couldn’t wait to read the sequel to The Jigsaw Man. The book felt quite long, and dragged out in places, but the story was gripping, ever deepening and so shocking. I got really engrossed in it and really enjoyed it – despite the dark topics! It was a really good read and I’m already looking forward to book three!

21 – Steve Cavanagh – The Defence

After reading Fifty Fifty earlier in the year, I wanted to read the whole Eddie Flynn series and get to know the backstory of the character I’d been introduced to. The Defence was a really good first installment to the series. A court case, investigation and hostage situation all dealt with against the clock. I loved it.

22 – Steve Cavanagh – The Plea

The next installment kept me guessing until the very end. So many twists and I felt myself rooting for the defendant throughout. Loved watching this book and story play out.

23 – Steve Cavanagh – The Liar

This was probably the hardest Eddie Flynn book to read so far. Featuring the kidnap of a seventeen year old girl, it really pulled at your emotions – and I might have shed a tear or two at the end.

24 – Steve Cavanagh – Th1rt3en

This was such a clever book. It wasn’t just surface level crime and courtroom drama – this was deep investigation and a crime that had so many layers and spanned so many years. It was so clever and I devoured it. I’m having a little Eddie Flynn break and then can’t wait to read the next couple in the series.

25 – Taylor Jenkins Reid – Daisy Jones and the Six

This book was so different! Written purely as dialogue, in an interview style, it was hard to get into at first but when I’d got into it I really enjoyed it. I loved getting to know the characters, seeing their relationships develop and liked how it all wound up at the end. So many drugs though – I know it was the 70s but it seemed very drug focused at times.

26, 27 and 28 – Julia Quinn – Splendid, Dancing at Midnight and Minx – The Blydon Family Trilogy

These books were everything I have come to know and love from Julia Quinn books. Old fashioned values and great love stories, set in the Bridgerton world with passing mentions of other characters we have been introduced to in other books. The characters in this trilogy are all so different – a cousin from America and siblings from London, all finding love in their own ways. I really enjoyed them.

29 – Taylor Jenkins Reid – After I Do

This book was so different to other love stories. After years of marriage, and 11 years together, a couple decide to have a year apart to see if they can salvage their marriage. It’s an eye opening read, about love, friendship, complacency and honesty. It’s a really great read – especially for anyone who has been married a long time.

30 – Taylor Jenkins Reid – Malibu Rising

This was nearly as good as Seven Husbands – but not quite. I loved getting to know the characters and their beachy lifestyle in southern California, the fictional celebrities and the celebrity lifestyles that went along with it. The story was one with so many layers and I loved finding out more as the book went on. A really immersive, enjoyable read.

31 – Beth O’Leary – The No Show

This book is so shocking from the start and it leads you right down a path where you end up hating the main character which being shocked by his nerve and audacity – until the big twist that brings the whole story together and actually, makes you love him just a little bit. A really great book – and I’ve come to expect nothing less from Beth O’Leary.

32 – Claire Douglas – The Couple at Number 9

This was such an easy book to read despite the huge number of characters and a story that spanned over 40 years. I loved getting to know the characters and there were so many twists, it ended up being a really great book. I loved it despite the difficult subject matter at times.

33 – Alexandra Potter – Confessions of a Forty-Something F##k Up

This book was really easy to read and I enjoyed it but I didn’t feel like it had much depth to it. Kind of like the novels you pick up to read on the beach on holiday. Easy to read but never going to change your life. I enjoyed it and it was refreshing to read about a forty year old divorcee taking their life in a new direction compared to all the books about twenty-somethings who are just starting out in life.

34 – Janice Hallett – The Appeal

This book felt really long. About fundraising around an amateur dramatics society production, it was nearly fully written in emails and text messages. There was no real story as such, just dialogue between two or three people at a time. I found it so strange. It was definitely unlike anything I had ever read before but I felt the way it was written stopped you from really immersing yourself in the story. It felt like such a slog and not a style I would want to read again. That said, even if it had been written like a typical novel I don’t think the story was that great – the twists were either predictable or ridiculous.

35 – Found – Erin Kinsley

This book was different to other similar books as, like the cover says, the abducted child was found and reunited with his family. However, there is so much that is left unsaid in this book which I found really difficult. A boy was abducted, awful things obviously happened to him, but you never found out what, leaving your imagination to fill the gaps in the most awful of ways. The police investigation side of the book didn’t seem very realistic either and I just found the whole thing quite disappointing and sad.

36 – Maybe in Another Life – Taylor Jenkins Reid – *ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR*

This book was a fantastic read. I have come to have such high expectations from Taylor Jenkins Reid – she is yet to disappoint! The book plays out two different lives for the main character, Hannah. She’s on a night out and has a choice to make – go home or stay out. And through the book we read what happens afterwards with both those choices, how life can play out so differently due to just one little choice. How life can take you down such a different path depending on whether you did one thing or another. It’s a great book about love, fate and friendship.

37 – One True Loves – Taylor Jenkins Reid

I was hooked on this book from the very first scene. What do you do if your husband was killed in a helicopter crash? And what would you do if he was actually found alive a couple of years later? An amazing story about loving more than one person at once, about growing as a person and about dealing with everything that life throws at you. Another fantastic TJR book!

38 – The House in the Cerulean Sea – TJ Klune

I read this book as one of my book club books and it’s the sort of book I would have loved as a teenager but a genre I haven’t read in a very long time. A pure fantasy book but set in our world and our sort of era too. Full of mythical creatures who live among us, although they are registered and monitored – not seen as the same as humans. The book introduces you to so many different creatures and it includes a couple of different love stories and an easily imaginable world. A great story of prejudice, it’s inclusive, diverse and just such a lovely read. I was glad that everything came together so well at the end.

39 – The Four Winds – Kristin Hannah

This book was nothing short of harrowing. Set in the Great Depression in America, it taught me so much about a time I knew nothing about. A time of droughts and immense poverty, food shortages and dust storms. Learning about the lengths people would go to just to feed their children, the conditions people had to live in and the existence people faced. It was hard to read and heartbreaking. A story of so much loss with a little thread of hope woven through. It’s a book with not much happiness in it and it left me feeling pretty desolate at the end. Educational and well written but definitely not an uplifting read.

40 – Lessons in Chemistry – Bonnie Garmus

I chose this book when it came to my turn to choose a book for our book club to read, mainly because I’d seen so many people rave about it on social media. However, I wasn’t that impressed. I like the thoughts behind the book, the themes of feminism and fighting the patriarchy. But, the messages got lost along the way in places. There was too much rowing, too many chemical elements and the talking dog was really random – although he ended up being one of my favourite characters. It was fine, but not a book I’d rush to recommend.

41/42 – The Two Dukes of Wyndham Series – Julia Quinn – The Lost Duke of Wyndham and Mr Cavendish, I Presume

I love a Bridgerton book and I’m enjoying working my way through all the spin off series like this one. I loved the first book but found the second a bit of a drag as it told the exact same story as the first just from another character’s viewpoint. They’re both really good books, with really good love stories, but I wouldn’t read them one after the other if I were you.

43-52 – The Sweet Magnolias Series – Sherryl Woods

Stealing Home – A Slice of Heaven – Feels Like Family – Welcome to Serenity – Home in Carolina – Sweet Tea at Sunrise – Honeysuckle Summer – Midnight Promises – Catching Fireflies – Where Azaleas Bloom

This was such an easy series of books to read. Each one features a really strong love story but the series is all about the friendships running through it – Sweet Magnolia women that have each other’s backs no matter what. They’re great, uplifting books.

53 – The Making of Us – Lisa Jewell

I don’t think Lisa Jewell is capable of writing a bad book. I loved this one! Based around the children of a sperm donor, the story was so different and the characters had so many layers and the fascinating stories that I’ve come to love in Lisa Jewell books. A great read.

54 – The Running Dream – Wendelin Van Draanen

I loved this book. Really easy to read and with really short chapters, it’s focused around a teenage runner who loses her leg in a car accident. Following her recovery and getting to dribs with a prosthetic leg, it’s really insightful, emotive and just a fantastic, uplifting story of friendship and perseverance.

55 – Watch Her Fall – Erin Kelly

This book was really good – a fantastic insight into the strict regime of ballet dancers. It was full of twists but some I ended up being quite confused by – something that I don’t usually feel with these kinds of books. It was great but a little implausible in places but I still really enjoyed it.

56 – Last Letter from Istanbul – Lucy Foley

I love a book that I feel I’ve learnt something from and Last Letter from Istanbul taught me so much about the British occupation of Constantinople, the wars in Turkey and the Ottoman Empire – things I knew nothing about previously. As well as being educational, it was a fantastic love story, one that was just so sad but a great read.

57 – Got You Back – Jane Fallon

Jane Fallon books are so easy to read and stories that you get straight into. This story was great – based around a husband leading a double life – and I loved how the whole book had so many twists and turns but all came together really well in the end.

58 – Queen Bee – Jane Fallon

Another great, easy to read book. This one is about the life of a normal, recently divorced woman, who ends up living alongside a lot of really rich, flashy people. It was so well written, showing such stereotypes and class differences and I loved how everything worked out in the end.

59 – Kill Joy – Holly Jackson

This is a super short book – only 150 pages – but a great prequel to the Good Guide’s Guide to Murder series. I read it easily in a day and really enjoyed it.

60 – Love Untold – Ruth Jones – *ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR*

This book was one of the best I have read in a long time. It was so beautifully written and had LGBTQ+ themes that fit so naturally into the story. It’s a story that spans decades, and generations, and highlights a lot about how times have changed, how our grandparents really lived in a different era where acceptance and understanding weren’t as free flowing. I really loved this book.

61 – The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V E Schwab

This was a book I read for book club and it was a struggle at times. It’s a long book – around 550 pages – and the first 200 pages were a slog. But after that, I got quite invested in the story, found it refreshingly different and liked how everything came together at the end. I could see it being a pretty good movie – but the book could have been half as long.

62 – Winter Garden – Kristin Hannah

I always get thrown off guard by Kristin Hannah books, forgetting how emotive they are and how they always transport me to a different era, a period in history, teaching me about something as the story unravels. Winter Garden was set in Russia during WW2 and shares the story of a family experiencing the Siege of Leningrad. It was shocking and hard to read but such a beautiful story.

63 – This Book Is Gay – Juno Dawson

Not the usual kind of book I read but I loved this. It’s all about what it’s like to be gay, bi, transgender – LGBTQ+. It talks about coming out, how to date and, most importantly, how to be an ally. I learnt a lot from it, am glad I read it and feel like I’m more understanding about what it’s like to be gay now.

64 – The Truth About Melody Browne – Lisa Jewell

I love Lisa Jewell books, they’re so easy to read and always so gripping. This one sucked me in and I read it in just over 24 hours. It started off with a main character who was cold, closed and hard to get to know but by the end of the book she had bloomed into such a wonderful, deep character. It was such a great book of self discovery.

65 – Forever, Interrupted – Taylor Jenkins Reid

I loved this book but it felt quite similar to other TJR books. A husband dying within the first few pages and then a story that flips back and forth to cover a whole year of time. The main characters are lovely, easy to like and easy to understand. It’s great seeing relationships play out over the course of the book and I really enjoyed reading this. Still not as good as Seven Wives though!

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66 – Daisy Darker – Alice Feeney – *ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR*

This was such a good book. Great characters, great relationships, a story that spans decades and a really interesting setting – plus a twist at the end that I really never saw coming. A fantastic read that I would highly recommend.

67 – The Further Observations of Lady Whistledown – Julia Quinn

Unlike the other Bridgerton books, this one is a collection of four short stories, all set in the same time period and with characters who feature across all of the stories. But, the four stories are written by four different writers. It was easy to read and enjoyable with classic Julia Quinn romances throughout!

68 – The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches – Sangu Mandanna

I read this book for my Book Club and it’s not something I would have picked up otherwise – but I loved it. Really nice characters, an interesting story, a great twist at the end and loads of moral dilemmas that were nicely resolved – plus a good splash of magic!

69 – Carrie Soto is Back – Taylor Jenkins Reid

I’ve said before how much I love a TJR book and I had to read the latest one. However, I didn’t realise it was going to be so heavily about tennis – it may have put me off reading it if I’d known. But, despite the blow by blow account of tennis matches, it was a gripping read and different to other books I’ve read. I felt I learnt a lot about the professional sports industry and got an insight into what it’s really like to be a top ports personality. It was a really good book.

70 – Gallagher Girls #1 – Ally Carter

The first book in the Gallagher Girls series was something completely new to me. YA fiction about a school for spies, it was a good book that really set the scene for the rest of the series. However, I didn’t find it exciting, gripping or gritty enough to pick up the next book straight away. It was fine, I enjoyed it but it just didn’t excite me like other books have. I know my 12 year old daughter will love the books though.

71 – Five Survive – Holly Jackson – *ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR*

I just love Holly Jackson! After reading the Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series I was hesitant to read something different of hers – but this was fantastic! A whole book that spans just eight hours and mainly takes place inside an RV… I didn’t expect it to be as good as it was – but it was a really great read. One of my favourites this year.

72 – Wrong Place Wrong Time – Gillian McAllister

This book was fantastic. So many different storylines going on at once, spanning different dates and times, with past people and future people. It was very confusing at times but, if you manage to stick with the story it is well worth it. It comes together beautifully at the end – although the true ending on the book felt like a bit of a cop out.

73 – Local Girl Missing – Claire Douglas

This book was quite like many other books – a classic whodunnit – but I really liked getting to know the characters and the twist at the end was great. The ultimate ending isn’t what I would have chosen but it wrapped up the loose ends nicely.

74 – After the Party – Lisa Jewell

This is, without a doubt, the wort book I’ve read by Lisa Jewell. Her books are amazing. They are always a highlight of my bookshelf but this… This was disappointing. It didn’t help that it was the sequel to Lisa Jewell’s Ralph’s Party but didn’t mention that anywhere on the book – I only realised halfway through reading. It’s obviously written in a way for it to be enjoyed as a standalone book as well as a sequel but I think I lost something by having not read the first book – a love of the characters maybe? It was really long, really drawn out and just not that interesting or exciting.

75 – Dial A for Aunties – Jesse Sutanto

This book was completely bonkers. The story was just so random and far fetched. Plus, it had a lot of Chinese and Indonesian words and characters in which I found quite off putting – although it did give a good insight into Asian culture and families.

76 – To Catch an Heiress – Julia Quinn

After my last book I needed something a bit more believable and easy going – so I picked up another couple of Bridgerton books. The Agents of the Crown series is just two books, featuring another group of people from the Bridgerton world. This one was all about spies – and with the classic Bridgerton love story within it too. I really enjoyed it.

77- How to Marry a Marquis – Julia Quinn

The next Agents of the Crown story was all about a self help style book of the Bridgerton era, How to Marry a Marquis. I loved reading about the main character and her quest for love, following the advice within the book and seeing everything go horribly wrong – before coming together again for a lovely ending.

78 – Just Like the Other Girls – Claire Douglas

The last book I read this year was by Claire Douglas, an author introduced to me by the book club earlier this year. Since then I have read a few of her books and always really like them. This was a great book, written from a few different perspectives, and with great twists in it too. Really enjoyable – although featured a lot of murders!

So that’s everything I’ve read this year. Quite an eclectic mix and 15 more books than last year. I really enjoyed reading this year and being in a book club really helped me to read things I wouldn’t usually pick up. I’ve already for a big list of books to read in 2024.

If you’re looking for more reading inspiration, here’s what I’ve read previously:

The Books I Read {2022}

The Books I Read {2021}

The Books I Read {2020}

The Books I Read {2019}

The Books I Read {2018}

The Books I Read {2017}

The Books I Read {2016}

Author

  • Donna Wishart

    Donna Wishart is married to Dave and they have two children, Athena (12) and Troy (11). They live in Surrey with their two cats, Fred and George. Once a Bank Manager, Donna has been writing about everything from family finance to days out, travel and her favourite recipes since 2012. Donna is happiest either exploring somewhere new, with her camera in her hand and family by her side or snuggled up with a cat on her lap, reading a book and enjoying a nice cup of tea. She firmly believes that tea and cake can fix most things.

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