My Top Ten Favorite Books of 2023 - Reading List & Links

Remember that time I read 132 books in one year? This. Is. Not. That. Year.

I started a new job. Co-founded a non-profit. Became an elected official. Way too many things at once really. And my reading took a dive. But, I still managed to read 37 books in 2023 - so far. And there were some good ones in there, so here's a look at my favorites: 

If you're a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction like Station Eleven or Gold Fame Citrus (see below,) you'll love this story of a baby born during a hurricane in Central Florida... and what unfolds across her life as climate change ravages the state (and country.) I hope it doesn't come to that. But it's a good read. 

“She wanted to rip her own beating heart from her chest, to toss it onto the bathroom floor and watch her blood splatter like wet paint. Instead, she took a Xanax.” This one crushed me and then put me back together.

I was as in love with the behind-the-scenes look at Saturady Night Live (TNO) as I was with the potential love story. Mix that up with 2020 time stamp and very accurately capturing COVID lockdown love, fear, isolation - and joy.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
“Every person you knew, every person you loved even, did not have to consume you for the time to have been worthwhile. She expressed some of this to Marx at the office, and he laughed at her. “I’m afraid I’ve given you the wrong impression, Sadie,” he said. “I rather like to be consumed.” My God, I loved that line.

“But sitting with her now – 30 years earlier, on the other side of the world – watching her drink rosé, like it’s water – I think that maybe they were parts of her I never made an effort to see. Parts of her that just wanted to drink outside in the sunshine on Wednesday. And go back for skirts, just because.” 📚 What would happen if you met your mom when she was roughly your age? One Italian Summer tackles wanderlust, grief and love - set in Positano. A hotel that’s been on my to do list for years. It felt personal. I read it in 24 hours.

Gold Fame Citrus is set in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, in a world where drinkable water in much of the US has been exhausted. The government evacuates citizens to pockets like Seattle and the East Coast… but some stay behind. This is their story. If you liked Station Eleven, Last of Us, Walking Dead… this one is for you.

“Do it for the plot!” This is the end-of-summer read you need in your life. Poppy is in her anti-hero era… and a twist of fate brings her to the South of France to possibly rewrite her life story.

Set mostly in Florida, where two writers are holed up trying to finish the last book in their contract after an epic rift in their once-close friendship and writing partnership.

The Last Remains (But Make Sure to Read the Series in Order) by Elly Griffiths
I was sad to finish The Last Remains, book number fifteen and the last (for now) in the Ruth Galloway mystery series. Discovering Elly Griffith’s cast of characters in Northern England was one of the joys of the pandemic years. I savored them as palate cleansers between other novels and there always seemed to be one more to put in my queue at the DC Public Library. And, while I wish I had more… I feel good about the last chapter. Thanks for the run, Elly (and to Jasmine Guillory for the original rec in your newsletter.)

A sweet coming-of-age story with a first love, first-generation immigrant family, family business, and mental health issues.

If you've got reading goals for 2024, here are a few of my tips:
  • Replace looking at your phone before bed and when you wake up with reading one chapter of a book. Your sleep, your mental health, and your reading list will all improve.
  • That year I read 132 books got pricey. Don't sleep on your local library. I get almost all of my reads, for free, from the DC Public Library. You can just add books you want to read from their app and they will email you when they are available to pick up from your closest branch. You can do print books, audio or ebooks (that work seamlessly with my Kindle, which is how I like to read when I travel.)
  • I set a goal of one book per week (overal 52 per year,) but I don't sweat it if I miss it. Sometimes, life is overcome by events. Just give yourself grace and pick up the next chapter.
  • Save this list that I'm working on keeping up this list contains my favorite reads over the year. Good inspiration if you're looking for your next book.
I'm also a member of the DC Public Library Foundation board of directors. And, we've got a generous donor matching contributions up to $25,000. If you have a little year-end donation left in your budget, I'd really appreciate it if you'd continue to help fund our community programs that support the DC Public Libraries.