My favorite reads of 2023

2023 saw me returning to a more typical year of reading, with the vast majority of my reading being fiction again. I also ended up having a bit more reading time than usual so my total book count for the year was 124 books. The full list of books is available at GoodReads.

My favorite books of the year, in no particular order:

  • Septology by Jon Fosse. I was a bit reluctant about this book when I started—Fosse makes the book deliberately challenging to read, but the reward was well worth the effort.
  • El otoño del patriarca by Gabriel García Márquez. A brilliant bit of writing.
  • Radical disciple: Father Pfleger, St Sabina Church and the fight for social justice by Robert McClory. I was curious about how Father Pfleger became Father Pfleger and this book gave a lot of the answers to that. It’s worth googling Michael Pfleger to get interested and then check out this book to learn the story.
  • Something rich and strangeSelected stories by Ron Rash. Rash is one of those writers that I think more people need to know.
  • Yellowface by R. F. Kuang. Darkly comic and then just dark. I loved reading this.
  • The museum of human history by Rebekah Bergman. A brilliant novel made all the more amazing by the fact that this is Bergman’s first novel.
  • PopCo by Scarlett Thomas. Maybe it’s the math nerd in me, but I just loved this book.
  • Via negativa by Daniel Hornsby. I wish I’d written this book.
  • Tom Lake by Ann Patchett. Easily her best novel.
  • Sally Mara’s intimate diary by Raymond Queneau. I don’t envy the challenge facing Queneau’s translators, but this novel, newly translated into English was a delight to read.
  • The diary of Jesus Christ by Bill Cain. A wonderful reimagining of events from the gospels, told from the first-person perspective of J.C. himself.
  • Mercury Pictures presents by Anthony Marra. One of these books that shows me how much more I have to develop as a writer.
  • The most secret memory of men by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr. A work of staggering genius.
  • La invención de Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares. Apparently, I really loved everything I read this year in Spanish. I think I want to give translating this book a try to get a clear sense of how it works.
  • The night parade by Jami Nakamura Lin. What’s a speculative memoir? Only one way to find out. Read this book.

A bonus mention: I’ve not finished reading Absolution by Alice McDermott, but I absolutely love this book and I think I’ve found a new author to get obsessed about.

And now, time for charts and graphs:

Graph of books read. This is the highest number since I’ve started these posts, although not a personal record (which was 129 in 2012)

Graph of percentage of books by women, still around 50% but creeping up a percent or so

Graph of books by genre—fiction saw a huge leap while poetry a small gain

Graph of new authors, re-reads and authors I’ve met. New tro me authors declined a fair amount this year while re-reads and met author numbers increased slightly

Graph of authors by race. Dead white men are on top, but declining,. Asian and African authors are both up and almost identical in percentage, Latino are up slightly while Native American remains at zero

Graph of translations and books in Spanish. Translations dropped now that I’m out of novel research mode, while books in Spanish crept slightly up

Two random percentages: Skipping the book at the top of the stack to make my diversity goals is down as is non-US authors


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