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Best Books of 2023 - Yellowface, The Woman in Me, Maame, Check & Mate, Holly, Fourth Wing, The Housemaid's Secret, Happy Place
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The Best Books of 2023

It's been another year with incredible books of all genres, so now it's time to look back at the best books of 2023. This wrap-up may have some books you've read, or it may help you add books to your list. We've selected the most popular books of 9 major genres written this year -- and, admittedly, a few personal favorites!

Let us know how many of these books you already read and loved in the comments!

"Yellowface" by R.F. Kuang

Yellowface by R.F. Kuang

One of the best books of 2023 overall in the fiction genre was Kuang's Yellowface. This novel has many powerful themes including racism and cultural appropriation, as the title and cover both imply.

Focusing on Athena Liu and June Hayward, this contemporary fiction shows its readers intense betrayal and stolen identity. After Athena Liu dies tragically, June steals her unpublished literary work and claims it as her own. The truth will always come out, and June (known as Juniper Song) begins to have her success threatened.

For many book lovers, it's always great to read a book written about books and writers. That is exactly what Kuang has done by setting the scene of a diverse writer in the publishing industry. Yellowface has become one of the most popular reads of this year due to its narration and moral questioning.


"Weyward" by Emilia Hart

Weyward by Emilia Hart

Taking place in three very different time periods, Weyward by Emilia Hart was one of 2023's best historical fiction novels.

In the early 1600s, Altha is on trial for murder and witchcraft.

During WWII, Violet merely wants an education like her brother received and to leave her family estate.

In modern times, Kate leaves London to go to Weyward Cottage, where she suspects she'll learn more about her ancestry.

This novel tells powerful stories about strong women across five centuries of struggles, both physical and emotional. Hart emphasizes the timeless struggle that women have of fighting against the patriarchy and cruelty of men. Despite some mentions of magic, this novel is a strong piece of historical fiction and is the author's debut novel!


"The Housemaid's Secret" by Freida McFadden

The Housemaid's Secret by Freida McFadden

Freida McFadden's second mystery/thriller book in her Housemaid series was a major success this year. The Housemaid's Secret continues not long after the first book in the series, The Housemaid. Millie is very lucky to work for the Garricks, who live in a luxurious penthouse with downtown views. The only weird part is Millie has never actually seen Mrs. Garrick.

One day, she hears a woman crying from inside the guest room. Millie notices blood stains on Mrs. Garrick's clothing while she's washing the couple's clothes. Concerned, she opens the door and can't look back from what she learns...

Just like The Housemaid, The Housemaid's Secret is a fast-paced thriller, keeping you on the edge of your seat. I personally read this book in one day because the writing style captivated me. McFadden's third book in the series, The Housemaid is Watching, should be published in 2024. It might just make next year's best-of list!


Happy Place by Emily Henry

"Happy Place" by Emily Henry

Happy Place by Emily Henry

If you're a romance reader, you've heard of Emily Henry's name somehow. Her books are always upbeat and sweet, and Happy Place was no different. This novel is one of the best books of 2023 in the romance genre.

It handles contemporary issues that people in their 20s face including maintaining friendships, finding purpose, and adapting to change. Happy Place features Harriet and Wyn, the perfect couple admired by all of their college friend group for years.

Unfortunately, Harriet and Wyn broke up six months ago and none of their friends have any idea. So, things get awkward on their annual friends' trip to Maine when they need to decide whether to break their closest friends' hearts or pretend to still be together. It's only one week of faking being in love with each other; how hard can it be?

Personally, as someone who doesn't typically read romance novels, this one blew me away. I enjoyed how the dialogue and plot were not surface-level and actually had real insecurities and deep conversations throughout. For those of you in your 20s trying to figure out life and love, I think this one will really resonate with you.


Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
"Fourth Wing" by Rebecca Yarros

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

Perhaps one of the most talked-about books of 2023, Fourth Wing was definitely an extremely popular fantasy publication of this year. This novel follows the life of 20-year-old Violet Sorrengail who was supposed to enter the Scribe Quadrant but is now ordered to become a dragon rider.

Going from a life of quiet and reading books to suddenly becoming a warrior, Violet faces many challenges as she shifts her life.One of her biggest obstacles is her mother being her wingleader and one of the fiercest women in the Riders Quadrant.

As war continues to move closer and more intense, more people begin to die and more stress piles onto Violet to become one of the strongest dragon riders. She really has two options: graduate from Basgiath War College or die.

This fantasy novel includes romance, suspense, action, and betrayal -- perfect for any fantasy romance reader or anyone wanting to try out the genre. Yarros' second book in the series, Iron Flame, just recently came out as well; if you end up enjoying Fourth Wing, there's more where that came from.


"Holly" by Stephen King

Holly by Stephen King

For some of you loyal Stephen King fans, it's no surprise that Holly is one of the best books of 2023. The king of the horror genre has done it again by focusing on Holly Gibney, who we first met in The Outsider. Holly is a private detective who works at Finders Keepers detective agency, and she receives a call to help a woman find her missing daughter.

Holly is extremely reluctant to help given that her partner has COVID, her mother is in poor health, and she is supposed to be on leave right now. However, Penny Dahl has a voice of panic and concern that Holly cannot ignore.

Just blocks away from where Penny's daughter disappeared, there are two professors who appear to live a life of luxury and ease. Yet in their basement, there are too many clues related to Penny's daughter's disappearance. Holly needs to be smart enough to outwit two life-long academics and figure out how to get Bonnie Dahl back as soon as possible.

This fast-paced horror is absolutely thrilling and takes an interesting angle on the pandemic that we all lived through just a couple of years ago. If Stephen King's writing and his strong character Holly intrigue you, you will definitely enjoy one of his most recent releases.


"Check & Mate" by Ali Hazelwood

Check & Mate by Ali Hazelwood

Ali Hazelwood, author of The Love Hypothesis, does it again with Check & Mate, one of the best books of 2023. This young adult novel follows rival chess players, as you can assume by the clever title. Readers start out learning about Mallory Greenleaf, who is done with chess and wants to focus on her family.

However, she agrees to one last serious chess tournament for charity; little does she realize she will go against her rival Nolan Sawyer. Not only is he known as the "bad boy of chess", but he is also world champion. When Nolan loses against Mallory, it shocks everyone, but what shocks Nolan the most is wanting to play against her again.

After Mallory beats Nolan, doors of opportunity open, and she begins to open her heart up as well. Despite Mallory never wanting to play chess again, this rare attraction that she develops for her rival Nolan make her rethink a lot of her life. If you've never played chess before, Check & Mate will definitely make you want to learn how.

"Maame" by Jessica George

Maame by Jessica George

One of the best books of 2023 was, in my opinion, a debut by author Jessica George.

Maame is set in London and is a coming-of-age story following Maddie, who has a lot on her plate. Her mother is always in Ghana yet is constantly badgering her about getting married, being successful, and having real friends.

Unfortunately, with her mother being physically absent, Maddie is left as the primary caretaker of her father who suffers from gradually worsening Parkinson's. Uncomfortable and lonely, Maddie also struggles with being the only Black person in her office at a job with a disastrous boss.

Once her mother finally returns to London, Maddie gets a chance to start working on herself and live her life for herself. She moves out, socializes after work, and even tries online dating.

However, just as Maddie feels like she is beginning to prioritize herself, things fall apart tragically. Maame not only follows the life of a 20-something woman figuring out who she is, but deals with heavy topics like racism, familial obligation, love, feminism, culture, and friendship. For anyone going through a change or struggle in life, I would recommend this debut contemporary fiction novel.


"The Woman in Me" by Britney Spears

The Woman in Me by Britney Spears

Besides Prince Harry's memoir at the beginning of this year, Britney Spears's The Woman in Me has been one of the most talked-about memoirs of 2023. Following her 13-year-long conservatorship, Britney Spears told the world her truth in 2021. Now, as one of the best books of 2023, she reveals her entire journey from her traumatizing childhood through her fame as an adult.

Written in Britney Spears's humorous and positive voice, this memoir dives into the difficulties of being a young and famous woman, the psychological damage of being manipulated by those closest to her, and her perseverance through the most challenging of times. Finally, in her own voice, Britney Spears tells her story the way she wants it told.

As someone who read this memoir just days after it was released, you do not have to be a die-hard Britney Spears fan to find meaning in her story. This is a story of strength, power, determination, betrayal, and faith. Even if you know nothing about Britney Spears besides her songs "Oops, I Did It Again" and "Toxic," you will be bound to be touched by how raw and genuine she is in her own words.

Wrapping Up...

Some of you may have read none of these books this year, and others may have read all of them. No matter what you read, we are happy to introduce you to authors and titles that you may order and enjoy reading!

We hope the beautiful covers of these books intrigued you. Want to read our blogs about judging books by their covers. At Discover Books, we wish you a happy holiday season filled with fuzzy blankets and good reading. We hope you've enjoyed our compilation of the best books of 2023, and we can't wait to see you in 2024!



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Next article Riding with Dragons: A Deep Dive into Rebecca Yarros' Empyrean Series


Ann - January 8, 2024

I appreciate your ways of explaining the best books in 2024

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