Unputdownable books of 2023 you must add to your shelf: Part one

Update your reading list ASAP!

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The best new books of 2023 include a little something for everyone, whether it’s the “will they or won’t they?” intensity of a romance novel or the seismic revelations of a tell-all celebrity memoir. But all-encompassing variety is just the start of what this year’s latest and greatest releases have to offer.

From fizzy summer beach reads to highbrow literary fiction, 2023’s most noteworthy releases so far are highly personal and deeply memorable. At the start of the year, readers were treated to heartfelt debut novels by Jessica George and Delia Cai. Throughout the spring and summer, modern literary forces like Brandon Taylor, Ann Patchett, and Zadie Smith returned with highly anticipated novels that were worth the wait. The momentum isn’t ending with the calendar year, either. Books arriving in fall and winter include Elizabeth Hand’s bone-chilling A Haunting on the Hill and Class, Stephanie Land’s follow-up to her best-selling memoir Maid. From a study of Brooklyn’s gilded upper class in Pineapple Street to a scammer’s anxiety-inducing lurch through the Hamptons in Emma Cline’s The Guest, this year’s best new books hook you from the first scene. Their characters are so memorable, you’ll want to revisit them in the not-too-distant future. (Even the antiheroes.)

Read on for the best books of 2023 to add to your reading list now—and read a second time later—organised by release date. From the moment you pick them up, you won’t want to put them down. And if there’s a book lover in your life, any one of these titles would fit their definition of a luxury gift for the holiday season.

'The Survivalists: A Novel' 

The Survivalists is one of the year’s most noteworthy new books on premise alone. Aretha, a partner-track lawyer who thrives on corporate success, descends into the world of Armageddon bunkers and doomsday arms dealing after she begins dating a coffee entrepreneur whose roommates are preparing for all sorts of unknown catastrophes while managing the roastery in their shared brownstone. On execution, The Survivalists delivers with a portrait of an underground corner of Brooklyn that’s so vividly captured, you may question what’s going on behind your favourite coffee shop. 

'Maame: A Novel'

Maddie, the narrator of Jessica George’s stirring debut novel, has spent most of her 20s caring for her father, who has Parkinson’s disease. Her mother is in Ghana; her brother is on the road with a musician; neither offer much in terms of money or help. But a moment for Maddie to finally figure out what she wants from life, independent of her family, is on the horizon—just not in the way she initially expects. This is a coming-of-age novel that finds beauty in the messiness and complexity of growing up, with a narrator whose singular voice instantly captivated readers and reviewers.

There’s more where Maame came from: The novel has already been picked up for a TV adaptation.

'Central Places: A Novel'

Heroines who travel from a bustling city to their flyover-state hometown for the holidays often find trouble and maybe a new love interest in their old zip code. But Audrey Zhou, the narrator of Central Places, isn’t on the Hallmark trajectory when she books a Christmas trip back to Hickory Grove, Illinois, for her first visit since high school. Audrey intends to spend the week introducing her Chinese immigrant parents to her White fiancé and helping them feel like one family—a tough order, considering Audrey and her mother aren’t on the best terms. Instead, after run-ins with a past crush and old acquaintances, Audrey embarks on a self-reckoning that’s hilarious at some times, heartfelt at others, and impossible to put down the whole way through. 

'Wolfish: Wolf, Self, and the Stories We Tell About Fear'

Wolfish’s explorations of predators and prey in both the natural and man-made worlds defies easy categorisation. The way Berry weaves an ecological adventure story about OR-7, a wolf who makes a record-breaking journey away from an Oregon pack, with tales from her own coming-of-age, asks readers to reconsider their relationships with fear and the creatures who induce it. 

'I Have Some Questions for You: A Novel'

Is I Have Some Questions for You a campus novel, a noir murder mystery, or a literary dissection of #MeToo social dynamics? With literary sensation, Rebecca Makkai steering journalist Bodie Kane back to her high school alma mater to teach a workshop and, eventually, sift through the files on a former classmate’s death to potentially exonerate a wrongly accused killer, the answer is all of the above.

'Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock' 

In 2019, Jenny Odell drew our collective attention to the attention economy’s downsides with her book, How to Do Nothing. Saving Time offers another chance to shift our perspective on the systems we accept as the standard—specifically time, and how we structure and spend it. You might just put this book down with a whole new outlook on how you measure your days.

'Pineapple Street: A Novel'

Comedies skewering the one per cent have borderline overstayed their welcome in film, but this novel’s take on the subgenre in fiction is laugh-out-loud good. It follows three women connected to the wealthier-than-wealthy Stockton family and their Brooklyn Heights brownstone: two Stockton siblings, Darley and Georgiana, and their sister-in-law with a middle-class background, Sasha. Love and money have always mixed like oil and water (not well), but Jackson finds new humour and warmth in her particularly witty debut.

'Brother & Sister Enter the Forest: A Novel'


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Richard Mirabella braids two timelines into one propulsive narrative about survival. In the first: Justin, a queer teen, sets off on a catastrophic road trip with his first boyfriend after his love interest gets into violent trouble. In the second: It’s several years later, and Justin has arrived on his sister Willa’s doorstep, desperate for refuge but at risk of damaging them both with the after-effects of his trauma.

'Hello Beautiful: A Novel'

Little Women fans will be endeared by Hello Beautiful’s homage to the March siblings, in the form of the four Padavano sisters. Any lover of a sweeping family saga will be moved by the Padavanos’ unraveling after eldest daughter Julia meets Will, a man whose tragic past comes back to disrupt the entire family.

'Romantic Comedy: A Novel'

The title doesn’t lie: Curtis Sittenfeld sets up her latest novel with a plot that demands a fizzy on-screen adaptation, ASAP. Sally Milz, a writer on a fictional SNL twin, The Night Owls, has more or less given up on romance when pop star Noah Brewster signs on to host the show. Over a week of writing jokes and rehearsing the week’s lineup, Sally feels something that’s a lot like love—but you’ll have to read to see if their connection is real or just another sketch.

'A Living Remedy: A Memoir'

On one level, Nicole Chung’s second memoir is an elegy for her adoptive parents. On another, it’s an indictment of the broken health care systems that prevent a disappearing middle class from receiving the affordable care it desperately needs. Chung writes about and through her grief with clarity and wisdom. Her reflection on her early life and her parents’ last days is a salve for any reader who has experienced the specific devastation that is losing a parent.

'Happy Place: A Novel'


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Happy Place is a different kind of Emily Henry romance. Harriet and Wyn, its leading duo, aren't a couple in the making. They're partners since college who quietly broke up months ago—and didn’t tell any of their friends before an annual group trip to Maine. Back at their usual summer escape, Harriet and Wyn have to fake that they’re still together for the friends they haven’t clued in to the truth, and maybe come to a new understanding with one another in the process. Don’t be surprised if you’re weeping through the last few chapters (in a cathartic way, we promise).

'Homebodies: A Novel'

Tembe Denton-Hurst’s debut novel astutely captures what it’s like to fight for yourself in a world that’s stacked against you. Unfairly ousted from her job, Mickey Hayward puts her experiences as a Black woman in media to paper in the hopes it’ll wake up the industry to the racism and sexism she endured. Instead, it hardly makes a ripple—until Mickey has left New York for her Maryland hometown and her letter reappears amid a larger scandal involving her old workplace. 

'Wildflower: A Memoir' 

How did Aurora James find her CFDA award–winning label, Brother Vellies and galvaniase retailers to take a stand for Black-owned brands through the Fifteen Percent Pledge? James’s forthcoming memoir recounts the peaks and valleys from childhood to adulthood that led her to the fashion industry—where she changed things for the better.

'The Guest: A Novel'

Emma Cline’s best-selling novel became the book of the summer for a reason. The Guest invites you to follow a down-on-her-luck scammer through one chaotic week in the Hamptons—where each day bring her to more desperate means of survival and manipulation than the one before.