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The Top Fiction and Nonfiction Books of 2023

Well friends and fellow Cook Memorial Public Library District patrons, the time has come. The lists are out, the temperature is low and soon, the clock will strike midnight on a new year. So, what better time to have a 2023 book retrospective?

Our latest episode of Bookies Talk does just that. Hannah and Erica discuss the top books of the year, their personal favorites, and take a look at the 2024 titles they can’t wait to read. You can find their conversation here, or by listening to the library’s podcast on your favorite platform – just search for Cook Memorial Public Library. And for more about the year’s biggest literary hits, read on!

Readers’ tastes span all genres, from cozy mysteries, to suspenseful horror, to investigative nonfiction. This was apparent in my search for the most beloved (and most controversial) books of the year. For fiction, I counted mentions of books on 23 lists by professional book readers, including the Cook Memorial Public Library staff. I’ve included thusly the 5 books from each category, fiction and nonfiction, that were mentioned the most (as of when this blog post is coming out).

Some of my favorite books this year spanned the gambit of genre: Vampires of El Norte by Isabel Cañas and The Ugly History of Beautiful Things by Katy Kelleher both made the top of my list, but my favorite book by far this year was I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore. Did any of your 2023 favorites make it on the list below? 

If you are looking for even more great books beyond this list, come to either library branch to pick up our 2023 Favorite Fiction and Favorite Nonfiction booklets (you can also view them on our website!) and see what books our library staff have decided are ones to read. With a combined total of over 200 books in all genres, there’s something for every reader. Place your holds now and get ready for a great winter of cozying up with books!

I’ve included links to our catalog so you can read descriptions and place holds.

The Top 5 Fiction Books of 2023, according to our sources, are:

Absolution by Alice McDermott

Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

The Fraud by Zadie Smith

The Top 5 Nonfiction Books of 2023, according to our sources, are:

King: A Life by Jonathan Eig

Poverty, by America by Matthew Desmond

Sources: Amazon; American Library Association’s Carnegie Medal Long List; Barnes and Noble; Booklist Editor’s Pick of the Year; Bookpage; Book Riot; Chicago Public Library’s Top 10 of 2023; Esquire; Good Housekeeping; Kirkus; Library Journal; Lit Hub; LA Times; New York Public Library’s Top 10 of 2023; The New Yorker Top 10 Books of 2023; NPR; Oprah Daily; Real Simple; Time Magazine; The Washington Post; Vulture; Vogue; Publisher’s Weekly

Categories: Books and More

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