For the seventh year in a row, I am doing my best books that I read during this calendar year in a category list rather than in some kind of ranked order, Why? Because why I loved these particular books matters more to me than the order in which I would place them. How I interacted with them, how they affected me, how they stayed with me over the course of the calendar year, this is what is most important because it is why they are my on personal "Best" list.
Some of the categories are the same from year to year, others change. This is because the books I read create their own experiences and categories to me personally and I want to capture that experience each year along with the titles. I am not a robot, I am a human reader, even if reading and suggesting titles is my job. In order to remind myself [and all of you] of the joy in what we are paid to do, I strive to create a year end best list that captures, celebrates, and acknowledges that.
By this time, lots of people have already weighed in with critically acclaimed "best" lists for weeks now, but I always wait to post this until end the year here on RA for All. So I am keeping that tradition. [This is my last post until I return from vacation on January 8, 2024.]
I also wait to post because my list is about my reflections on myself as a readers over the last 12 months. It is not just another best list. This is a list that is personal to me, my tastes, and my weird quirks. You can use it to help other readers, yes, but because it is so specific to me, it is actually better used by you as a conversation starter. (Click here for my post about turning conversation starters into displays)
For example, you can ask people "What is the most fun you had reading a book this year?" or "What title was the biggest surprise to you?" Those are questions readers can answer much more quickly and easily than "What was your favorite book?" And these are the types of questions that engender dialog.
The categories I have listed here provide great conversation starters to offer to your patrons. You can even use my answers to keep the conversation going by saying, "I was thinking about this question because Becky said [fill in the title] as her answer."
The point of my "Best" list is to both offer books that I loved this year, while also presenting an example of a regular reader view of a "Best" list.
Below you will find my list of the best books I experienced in 2023 [regardless of publication year] in 14 categories created by me. It is an arbitrary amount, but so what? It's my list of what mattered to me the most this year so I get to decide how I present it. Each title links to a longer review which will explain why it is the "best" book for that category.
Some general comments about my list this year. Compared to last year, when I was on the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellent in Fiction and Nonfiction Committee, I did not read in many books outside of Horror and I barely read any nonfiction. But, that was a good thing. This year was a refreshing break after the intense reading for work last year. While I loved that ACM experience, having a year to reset and read only what I was assigned for review and what struck my fancy during the times between deadlines, was necessary.
[For more about the unique reading year that 2022 was for me you can read my 2022 Best Books I read post here.]
Click each title below for reviews and more appeal information.
And for my backlist of Best Books I Read post, you can use the blog archive at the bottom of every page in the right gutter. I make sure this annual post is always one of the last posts of the year, that way when you click on the year, it is one of the first posts that pops up.
WTF For the Win: Maybe it is because we have all lived through some wild times recently, but this past year, there were a handful of books that took a left turn, sending the story down a path that, in less talented and imaginative hands, could have been disastrous. Instead, in these novels, it is exactly the authors’ willingness to take those risks that made them some of the most memorable reads of the year.
I have a feeling this category might stick around. Time will tell.
And that's a wrap on 2023. See you next year!