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The Best Books of 2023

If you’ve read my previous blog posts or follow me on insta (@fictionalmusings) you may be aware that 2023 was not the easiest year for me… I had some real mental health issues due to stress and luckily that has significantly reduced now, but it did mean that I got a lot of reading done as I used it as an escape so that I wouldn’t have to think. Which meant that naturally I read some amazing books (and a lot that on reflection I think I’d have loved more if I’d read them when I was more sound of mind).

Out of the 106 books I read this year, I had some real stand out books with 18 five star reads as you might remember from my previous post about my reading wrap-up! However, though I had 18 5 star reads, I wouldn’t say they were all true 5 stars, simply because I struggle to rate non-fiction, graphic novels and poetry so I overinflate them to 5 stars. So I thought I’d do a separate post focusing on my best books of 2023 to really showcase some of the fabulous reads I’ve had this year!

One of the first books I want to talk about is by an author that appears twice on this list and it’ll come as no surprise that it is by one of my favourite authors, Rebecca Ross. So, the first book is A Fire Endless, the sequel to A River Enchanted. For a full review you can go and check out my blog post from earlier in the year. But I thought it fit perfectly as a sequel, Ross’ talent for creating atmospheric worlds is truly inspiring. I would love to live in the world she created in the Elements of Cadence series so it isn’t surprising that it is one of my top books of the year! 

Another Rebecca Ross novel, the second book by her that I adored this year and earned a top spot on my best books of the year is Divine Rivals. I found this one less atmospheric when compared to her other works, but the character work is just as beautiful, which is especially impressive considering it is much shorter and also YA - the characters still had the complexity that we saw in her other works. I can’t wait to get my hands on Ruthless Vows soon! Again, if you want to read some of my more detailed thoughts you can see my review from earlier in the year on here!

Next up we have what could be seen as the biggest book of the year, Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. I can’t lie, I did avoid this one for a while when it started to blow up but eventually booksta wore me down and I could see what everyone was screaming about - for such a long book I found it incredibly hard to put down, it was so action packed and gave me a feeling I haven’t felt in a while starting a series! It was just so genuinely enjoyable and exciting, again my full review can be found on here.

Next I want to talk about a book I haven’t actually reviewed on here, but that is The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty. I won’t lie, I wasn’t actually that interested in this one when it originally came out. It was my first fairyloot adult box, and I remember being intrigued because I liked City of Brass but thought this wasn’t up my street. Oh, how wrong I was. This is definitely one of, if not, the biggest surprises of the year in my reading. I just loved it, she did so well at setting up Amina’s character and the legend surrounding her, as well as this rich fantasy world. It really made me want to read more novels about pirates too, so if you have any recommendations let me know! I’m even making a bujo spread on this book because I adored it so much and I need to find out when the sequel releases so I can get it ASAP!

Before we get to what could be my best book of the year I have some honourable mentions to point out:

  • Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn - a truly beautiful and impactful look at the different kinds of love and how they change as we go through life by many authors. I loved annotating this.

  • I’m Glad my Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy - heartbreaking yet heartwarming, McCurdy really takes you on a ride while managing to be humorous. Incredibly honest and funny, I loved it!

  • Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus - really surprised me but I enjoyed it, heartbreaking and inspirational. I can’t wait to watch the series!

Finally, a debut book that I read pretty early on in the year but adored and is potentially my favourite of the year. We have Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati, a gorgeous retelling of Clytemnestra’s life story. I found it incredible that this was Casati’s debut, she painted such a rich atmosphere and her version of Clytemnestra felt so complex, well-rounded and researched. Listening to Casati discuss this at Waterstones earlier this year was also incredible as she was so engaging! A full review of this book is also available on my blog from earlier in the year! I learnt a lot from the book and it’s a style of writing I can only hope to achieve one day, and I genuinely can’t wait to see what Casati comes out with next. I really think she’s one to watch out for in the future!

So there we have my favourite books of 2023! A great year for reading, I’m really excited to see what 2024 brings and what my favourites will look like this time next year! If you’ve read any of these and agree please let me know, and what your favourite book of the year was!


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