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Books Read in 2023

At the end of every month, I share my ‘reviews’ of books I read in 2023, and where I stand relative to the thirty-three books goal I set for the year. Many of you have written that you enjoy and appreciate my ‘book reviews’ (if you can call them that!), but I always struggle with not giving too much away and am also cognizant that my likes are not everyone else’s.

I did the Goodreads Reading Challenge again this year. Last year, I read thirty books, and this year upped it to thirty-three. So, with that said, I only read 30 books, and 3 of those were audiobooks, so I don’t know if that technically counts.

Here is my quick and dirty review of the books I read in 2023, with one to five thumbs-up. I recently added an ‘eye-roll’ emoji 🙄 for that special book I read this year that didn’t even deserve one thumbs-up!

And, if you are looking for good podcasts to listen to, here are some of my favorite podcasts.

Some of these links may be Amazon affiliate links and I may earn a small commission from the sale of these products to help defray the costs of operating this site, but the price you are charged is not affected. You can see my full disclosure policy here.

  1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 Wow, where to begin with this one? It’s a quick read, but it doesn’t feel quick. There is very little ‘feel good’ in the book, which is not a reason not to read it. McCarthy’s sparse prose puts you right in the midst of this post-apocalyptic world, where, despite the suffocating hopelessness, a father and son still find hope. McCarthy does such a phenomenal job putting you in that world that one morning after I had read it the night before, I was slightly startled to hear birdsong.
  2. Howard’s End by E.M. Forster 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 On the other end of the prose spectrum, this was an at times humorous and at times somber satire of the social strata of early 20th century England. I had never watched the movie before and followed the book by watching the Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson movie. The movie takes very few liberties, following the book closely.
  3. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 When I was describing this book to my mom, I read the first paragraph of the book jacket and remarked, “not sure why I choose to read something that sounds so depressing, but I’m glad I did.” It is a historical fiction based on the last beheading in Iceland in the early 19th century. Kent does a brilliant job with her prose of placing you in the stark and merciless world of Iceland at that time. We know how the story ends before it begins, but it is the way that the tale of our protagonist, Agnes, unravels that will keep you totally immersed in the book. It is a rare day that I take time during the middle of the day to sit down with a book, which I did with this one over the weekend. It is haunting, yet somehow lovely at the same time.
  4. Brain Maker by David Perlmutter 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 A little non-fiction intermission! I am interested in gut health and how it affects our entire body. If this area interests you too, you’ll find this book enlightening. The bottom line, we are what we eat.
  5. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 Oh my heavens, I am on a roll! I’m afraid to say that out loud for fear of jinxing myself, but this was another gorgeous book! This book is meant to be savored; it is not a page-turner. O’Farrell has an incredibly poetic way with words that creates lush and melodic prose. This is ostensibly the story of Shakespeare, his wife Agnes, and their young son, Hamnet, who died from the plague. I say, ‘ostensibly’ because while Shakespeare is never named, you know it is him. And it is less about Shakespeare and more about his wife, her interests, her passions, and their relationship before, during, and after the death of their only son. Once again, I enjoyed this book so much that I reserved several more of her books from the library.
  6. The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼.5 There is no ‘half a thumbs up’ emoji…hence the .5. The only reason this is a 4.5 is that I don’t want to be too generous with the 5 thumbs to lose my credibility, and compared to Hamnet, it wasn’t quite as lovely. All that said, it is still a good book! Once again, not a page-turner but a slow unveiling of the relationship between two women of two different eras.
  7. The Good People by Hannah Kent 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼. Like her Burial Rites, this is based on true events. This time the story is set in early 19th century Ireland amongst a group of people struggling with poverty and a hardscrabble life. The belief in fairies (The Good People) figures heavily in this story, as does the conflict between that belief and the church. This ended completely differently than I expected and has I predicted last month! It is a sad story for all of the characters.
  8. I’m on a bit of a Maggie O’Farrell bent. I just really appreciate her writing, it is almost poetry. Her book, I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 is my least favorite, but I still enjoyed reading it. A bit of a biography and I appreciate the insight into her life.
  9. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 by Maggie O’Farrell is the story of two women of different generations who are related, but did not know it. The younger character takes in the elder and uncovers her heartbreaking past. The story does go back and forth in time, which didn’t bother me at all. O’Farrell does such a great job making you really care for her characters.
  10. This Must Be the Place 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼.5 by Maggie O’Farrell. Clearly I am still on my Maggie O’Farrell binge! This was another gorgeous book. At it’s core, it is about love, in all of its forms and variations. I struggled a bit with the back and forth in time and place, but she did bring it together. The story revolves around Daniel and Claudette, their marriage, their past marriages, their children and their past history that has brough them to their inflection point.
  11. A Ghost in the Throat 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 by Doireann Ní Ghríofa. This was a recommendation by one of our readers and I am so thankful for it! It’s a little hard to describe, but I’ll give it a go. It’s a bit of an autobiography by a young mother, also a published poet, who is fascinated (maybe a bit obsessed) by a famous poem written in the 18th century by another young Irish mother, Eileen O’Leary. The author, Doireann, traces the truth behind poem and the poem’s author, which centers on the murder of Art O’Leary. She hooks you with her opening line, “When we first met, I was a child, and she had been dead for centuries.
  12. The City of Thieves 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼.5 by David Benioff. I loved everything about this book which was recommended to me by my brother! It is the story of Benioff’s grandfather, a Russian teenager during the siege of Leningrad and another young Russian soldier he meets in jail. Not to be cliche, but it will, in turn, make you giggle and make you cry. You witness the atrocities of the war at the same time you witness the evolving friendship between these two young men. The two main characters are immensely likable and have stayed with me even after finishing the book.
  13. The Marriage Portrait 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 by Maggie O’Farrell is the story of Lucrezia de Medici who was married at age of 13 to the Duke of Ferrara, 11 years her senior. Sadly, Lucrezia dies one year later under suspicious circumstances. What we know about this event is minimal, so O’Farrell adds much flesh to the bare bones. I’ve said that I am entralled by her style of writing, which remains true in this book.
  14. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 This was a project and hard to summarize in a few sentences. On its surface, it is the story of two cousins in NYC at the beginning of World War II. Between the two of them, they create comic book heroes that tackle the injustices being inflicted on the innocents in Europe. But this story is much more than that; it is the story of one of the young men worrying about his Jewish family that he left behind in Czechoslovakia. Not only does he worry, but he feels immense guilt that he escaped and attempts to use his earning from the comic books to bring his younger brother to safety. It is the story of the other young man coming to grips with his sexuality. Chabon weaves non-ficton into his fiction, featuring Salvador Dali and Orson Welles in vignettes and has a beautiful way with words; having a dictionary handy may be useful! I’ve truly just scratched the surface of the book, which mostly moved along quickly, though I did feel it lagged in a few spots.
  15. If you like espionage and spy thrillers, you’ll enjoy I Am Pilgrim, by Terry Hayes. 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 It took me a while to get into it. He had this long rambling chapter at the beginning of the book that almost lost me, but once I got into the book it made sense. Set shortly after 9-11, it is the story of two characters; one who is bent on destruction and the other trying to prevent that destruction.
  16. The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith. 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼The story focuses on a single painting and weaves through three different characters related to that painting during three different time periods; the Netherlands in the 1630s, New York in the 1950s, and Sydney, Australia in 2000. I enjoyed getting into the characters, as well as the details of painting and forgery that the writer lays out. I know not everyone loves books that travel back and forth in time, but I didn’t have a problem with it at all.
  17. Circe by Madeline Miller 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 I loved that this book brought to life and retold the story of the Greek goddess Circe as well as several other minor and major Greek Gods, heroes, and monsters. If you aren’t well-versed in Greek mythology, you might find it helpful to have a resource nearby as you read the book. I’m anxious to read her other book, The Song of Achilles.
  18. Verity by Colleen Hoover 🙄 Color me dumbfounded! At the risk of offending Colleen Hoover fans, why this book rated 4.6/5.0 stars on Amazon made me shake my head in confusion. Sorry. It was one of the dumbest books I’ve read in a long time. I’m all about a book that prompts me to suspend disbelief: give me all the Harry Potter books, Cloud Cuckoo Land, etc. But, I can’t do it when an author tries to sell a story of real life that doesn’t pass the common sense and logic test. And I’m fine with sex scenes, but there was so much gratuitous sex …I guess solely for the shock factor? I don’t know. This book earned the very first ‘eyeroll emoji!’
  19. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver  👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 Thankfully, the book gods came to my rescue with this wonderful palate cleanser after Verity! (time for me to get off my soapbox?) Think Mark Twain meets David Copperfield meets Lincoln Highway (one of my favorite books!) and you have a good feel for Demon Copperhead. I thoroughly enjoy every sentence of this book, even with the sad and heartwrenching tale it weaves! The characters are brought to life so lovingly; there are several to whom I’ve formed an attachment. Barbara Kingsolver is just so uniquely gifted! It’s curious that I really have enjoyed books with teenage boys as the protagonists. Some of my favorite books include Lincoln Highway, Cider House Rules, and The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell.
  20. The Paris Apartment by Lucy Folley 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 This was a good, not great book. Kept me perfectly entertained and curious. Not only is the book told from the point of view of 5 different characters, but it goes back and forth in time, so you definitely need to stay on your toes.
  21. Dirt by Stuart Woods 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼Once again, good, not great. I looked forward to reading it daily, and it kept me interested. But I had to refresh myself on the ending; it was a little lackluster. I don’t know how I found this book; it’s 14 years old and the second in the Stone Barrington series. I liked his writing style, the characters, and the premise, so I would try others in the series.
  22. Drowning Ruth, by Christina Schwarz 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 I guess it was bound to happen. I started the year with one great book after another and seem to have hit a bump in the road. Shortly after starting it, I thought this would be really good. And it was fine, just not special. It is the story of two sisters in Wisconsin just after WW1 and how secrets have impacted their lives. The book also jumps back in time when the sisters were young, which really did help cement their characters.
  23. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼At its core, this is a book about how single incidents in families can have a continuing ripple effect years into the future. This story weaves back and forth in time between when two families become blended and when the children of the blended family grow up. I’m trying to decide why I liked this book better than some of the others, and I think it is because it isn’t trying to be something it isn’t. It is a story of family. It’s a well-written book; I didn’t have problems with the time changes.
  24. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 I enjoyed this book a lot! It’s an interesting and creative premise for a book… a female chemist in the 50’s who suffers through sexism, misogyny, heartbreak, single motherhood, and worse and resurfaces as the star of a cooking show. There was a good deal of wry humor and parts of the book are narrated by the dog named Six-Thirty.
  25. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼This book has a very simple storyline: two siblings are abandoned by their mother and raised by their father in the Dutch House, a lavish estate outside of Philadelphia. Then their father remarries and they are basically kicked out by ‘the evil stepmother.’ But this book is more complex than that, it really focuses on the relationship between the siblings, why they made decisions they made and how it affects their lives. It is narrated by Danny, the brother, who goes to medical school despite wanting to really get into the real estate business. There is a nice ‘full circle’ ending to the book.
  26. Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Boylan 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 I picked it up at the airport on a whim and am glad I did. This is a hard book to give you a peek into…I don’t want to give anything away. One of the main characters is a beekeeper, so we learn some great information about beekeeping. Beyond that, the story centers on a death. The book is narrated by two of the main characters, the deceased and the mother of the young man accused of the murder. Several storylines weave back in forth in time, but I haven’t had any problem with that. As in most Picoult books, you get to know the characters and truly care for them.
  27. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼+ In the interest of transparency, I didn’t read this book but instead listened to it. I have so much knitting to do, which is cutting into my reading time, so I figured I could multi-task two of my favorite hobbies! I guess it goes without saying that Mr. Dickens knows a thing or two about writing a great story! Oh my heavens, what a great book with a great narrator. This story follows the life of Pip, his love Estella, the dejected Ms. Havisham, and those who circle in their orbit. At its core, it is the story of wanting more and not being happy with what you have.
  28. The minute I finished Great Expectations, I re-listened to A Tale of Two Cities, 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼+, which is the story of a family caught up in the French Revolution. Another beautiful, exquisitely written story with characters that are brought to life through Mr. Dicken’s pen.
  29. I am currently listening to Bleak House, also by Charles Dickens, while I knit, walk or do housework. This is a story I was completely unfamiliar with and am only a quarter of the way through, so I’ll withhold comment. But once again, the characters are so well drawn.
  30. And when I do have time to read, I am thoroughly enjoying The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. The story primarily follows the lives of three of six characters who meet when in high school at an art camp and boldly name their group, ‘The Interestings.’ It received mixed reviews on Amazon, but as I said, I am enjoying it. I find the characters very well-drawn and relatable, if not always likable. I am enjoying it so much, I picked up another one of her books at a used bookstore over the holidays.

So, what are you reading or what have you read recently that you loved? Please pass the titles on to me, I am always looking for good books.

Happy Reading!

Signature of Lynn

Thanks for making my day by SHARING!!

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  1. I’m always a bit behind. I made the apple-cinnamon muffins and loved them. Also I will be making the cheese puffs again as they were a hit when you first introduced them. I forgot to mention that I save up my eggshells and grind them up to put in my compost. I am a faithful supporter of this since I thought they would smell terrible but didn’t and I’m
    no longer smashing egg shells in my garden!

    1. Good Morning Astrid,

      Remember, you are not behind, you are exactly where you need to be!! 😘 And I’m thrilled that you are enjoying the recipes and tips. That’s my goal every time I publishe something.

      Have a fantastic day and thanks for writing in.

      Hugs, Lynn

  2. Good morning Lynn!

    Here are some of the books I listened to. (I can multitask and knit while I listen!)

    Camino Island by John Grisham

    Camino Winds by John Grisham (#2 in the series which has the same setting and characters, but totally different storyline.)

    Run by Ann Patchett

    The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett

    Bewilderment by Richard Powers

    The Inmate, One By One, The Coworker, The Locked Door, Never Lie, Ward D all by Freida McFadden

    The Last Thing He Told Me by
    Laura Dave

    His Secret Daughter by Melissa

    Cassandra in Reverse by Holly Smale

    The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver



    1. Hi Gail,

      Did you like all the books you listened to? I’ve read Patron Saint of LIars, Last Thing he Told Me, and The Bean Trees. I’m all about a good audiobook! Still finishing up Bleak House by Dickens and then I don’t know what I’ll listen to. I also have a book that I’m reading…so multi-tasking as well.

      Thanks so much for the suggestions!

      Hugs, Lynn

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