Best Books of 2023
29 mins read

Best Books of 2023

Read the books Time Magazine has dubbed the 100 must-read books of 2023.

Below you’ll find Time Magazine’s Best Books of 2023. Whether you’re looking for award-winning nonfiction or gripping novels, Plano Public Library has it all.


Absolution by Alice McDermott. In Saigon in 1963, two young American wives form a wary alliance. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

After Sappho by Selby Wynn Schwartz. Reimagines the intertwined lives of feminists at the turn of the twentieth century. Print / eBook.

After the Funeral: and Other Stories by Tessa Hadley. A masterful collection of stories that plumb the depths of everyday life to reveal the shifting tides and hidden undercurrents of ordinary relationships. Print / eBook.

All the Sinners Bleed by S.A. Cosby. A Black sheriff. A serial killer. A small town ready to combust. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

August Blue by Deborah Levy. A novel by the author of The Man Who Saw Everything about wayward selves, femininities, sexualities, avatars, alter egos, and the twin poles of compassion and cruelty that exist within all of us. Print / eBook.

The bee Sting by Paul Murray. From the author of Skippy Dies comes Paul Murray’s The Bee Sting, an irresistibly funny, wise, and thought-provoking tour de force about family, fortune, and the struggle to be a good person when the world is falling apart. Print / eBook.

Big Swiss by Jen Beagin. Greta lives with her friend Sabine in an ancient Dutch farmhouse in Hudson, New York. The house is unrenovated, uninsulated, and full of bees. Greta spends her days transcribing therapy sessions for a sex coach who calls himself Om. She becomes infatuated with his newest client, a repressed married woman she affectionately refers to as Big Swiss. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

Biography of X by Catherine Lacey. From one of our fiercest stylists, a roaring epic chronicling the life, times, and secrets of a notorious artist. Print / eBook.

Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton. The Booker Prize-winning author of The Luminaries brings us Birnam Wood, a gripping thriller of high drama and kaleidoscopic insight into what drives us to survive. Print / eBook.

Blackouts by Justin Torres. From the bestselling author of We the Animals, Blackouts mines lost histories–personal and collective. Print / eBook.

The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese. From the New York Times-bestselling author of Cutting for Stone comes a stunning and magisterial epic of love, faith, and medicine, set in Kerala, South India, following three generations of a family seeking the answers to a strange secret. Print / Large print / eBook / eAudiobook.

Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winning Colson Whitehead continues his Harlem saga in a powerful and hugely-entertaining novel that summons 1970s New York in all its seedy glory. Print / Large print / Playaway / eBook / eAudiobook.

The end of Drum-Time by Hanna Pylväinen. An epic love story in the vein of Cold Mountain and The Great Circle, about a young reindeer herder and a minister’s daughter in the nineteenth century Arctic Circle. Print / eBook.

Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo. From National Book Award-winning author Elizabeth Acevedo comes the story of one Dominican American family told through the voices of its women. Print / Large print / Spanish / eBook / eAudiobook.

The Future by Naomi Alderman. The bestselling, award-winning author of The Power delivers a dazzling tour de force where a handful of friends plot a daring heist to save the world from the tech giants whose greed threatens life as we know it. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

The Great Reclamation by Rachel Heng. Set against a changing Singapore, a sweeping novel about one boy’s unique gifts and the childhood love that will complicate the fate of his community and country. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

Greek Lessons by Han Kang. the story of two ordinary people brought together at a moment of private anguish–the fading light of a man losing his vision meeting the silence of a woman who has lost her language. Print / eBook.

The Guest by Emma Cline. Summer is ending on the East End of Long Island, and Alex is no longer welcome. Propelled by desperation and a mutable sense of morality, she spends the week leading up to Labor Day moving from one place to the next, leaving destruction in her wake. Print / Large print / eBook / eAudiobook.

The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride. From James McBride, author of the bestselling Oprah’s Book Club pick Deacon King Kong and the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird, a novel about small-town secrets and the people who keep them. Print / Large print / eBook / eAudiobook.

Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano. An exquisite homage to Louisa May Alcott’s timeless classic, Little Women, Hello Beautiful is a profoundly moving portrait of what is possible when we choose to love someone not in spite of who they are, but because of it. Print / Large print / eBook / eAudiobook.

The hive and the Honey: Stories by Paul Yoon. From the beloved award-winning author Paul Yoon comes a spectacular collection of unique stories, each confronting themes of identity, belonging, and the collision of cultures across countries and centuries. Print.

Holding Pattern by Jenny Xie. A novel about immigration and belonging, mother-daughter relationships, and the many ways we can learn to hold each other. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

Holler, Child; Stories by Latoya Watkins. In Holler, Child’s eleven brilliant stories, LaToya Watkins presses at the bruises of guilt, love, and circumstance. Each story introduces us to a character irrevocably shaped by place and reaching toward something–hope, reconciliation, freedom. Print / eBook.

I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai. A successful film professor and podcaster, Bodie Kane is content to forget her past—the family tragedy that marred her adolescence, her four largely miserable years at a New Hampshire boarding school, and the murder of her former roommate, Thalia Keith, in the spring of their senior year. But when the Granby School invites her back to teach a course, Bodie is inexorably drawn to the case and its increasingly apparent flaws. Print / Large print / eBook / eAudiobook.

The Iliad translated by Emily Wilson. The culmination of a decade of intense engagement with antiquity’s most surpassingly beautiful and emotionally complex poetry, Wilson’s Iliad now gives us a complete Homer for our generation. Print.

Let us Descend by Jesmyn Ward. A reimagining of American slavery, as beautifully rendered as it is heart-wrenching. Searching, harrowing, replete with transcendent love, the novel is a journey from the rice fields of the Carolinas to the slave markets of New Orleans and into the fearsome heart of a Louisiana sugar plantation. Print / Large print / eBook / eAudiobook.

Lone Women by Victor LaValle. Crafted by a modern master of magical suspense, Lone Women blends shimmering prose, an unforgettable cast of adventurers who find horror and sisterhood in a brutal landscape, and a portrait of early-twentieth-century America like you’ve never seen. And at its heart is the gripping story of a woman desperate to bury her past-or redeem it. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

Mobility by Lydia Kiesling. A story about class, power, politics, and desire told through the life of one woman–her social milieu, her romances, her unarticulated wants. Print / eBook.

North Woods by Daniel Mason. When two young lovers abscond from a Puritan colony, little do they know that their humble cabin in the woods will become the home of an extraordinary succession of human and nonhuman characters alike. Print / eAudiobook.

Nothing Special by Nicole Flattery. A wildly original coming-of-age novel about a teenage girl working at Andy Warhol’s Factory in 1960s New York. Print.

Our Share of Night by Mariana Enriquez. A woman’s mysterious death puts her husband and son on a collision course with her demonic family in the first novel to be translated into English by the International Booker Prize-shortlisted author of The Dangers of Smoking in Bed. Print / eBook.

Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson. A deliciously funny, sharply observed debut of family, love, and class, this zeitgeisty novel follows three women in one wealthy Brooklyn clan. Print / Large print / eBook / eAudiobook.

The Postcard by Anne Berest. A vivid portrait of twentieth-century Parisian intellectual and artistic life, an enthralling investigation into family secrets, and poignant tale of a Jewish family devastated by the Holocaust and partly restored through the power of storytelling. Print / eBook.

The Rachel Incident by Caroline O’Donoghue. A brilliantly funny novel about friends, lovers, Ireland in chaos, and a young woman desperately trying to manage all three. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

Ripe by Sarah Rose Etter. A woman in Silicon Valley who must decide how much she’s willing to give up for success. Print / eBook.

River Sing me Home by Eleanor Shearer. The redemptive story of a mother’s gripping journey across the Caribbean to find her stolen children and piece her family back together. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

Temple Folk by Aaliyah Bilal. A groundbreaking debut collection portraying the lived experiences of Black Muslims grappling with faith, family, and freedom in America. Print / eBook.

Terrace Story by Hilary Leichter. Annie, Edward, and their young daughter, Rose, live in a cramped apartment. One night, without warning, they find a beautiful terrace hidden in their closet. It wasn’t there before, and it seems to only appear when their friend Stephanie visits. A city dweller’s dream come true! But every extra bit of space has a hidden cost, and the terrace sets off a seismic chain of events, forever changing the shape of their tiny home, and the shape of the world. Print / eBook.

This Other Eden by Paul Harding. From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Tinkers, a novel inspired by the true story of Malaga Island, an isolated island off the coast of Maine that became one of the first racially integrated towns in the Northeast. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams. Long-standing tensions between a husband, his wife, and her best friend finally come to a breaking point in this sharp domestic comedy of manners, told brilliantly over the course of one day. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett. In the spring of 2020, Lara’s three daughters return to the family’s orchard in Northern Michigan. While picking cherries, they beg their mother to tell them the story of Peter Duke, a famous actor with whom she shared both a stage and a romance years before at a theater company called Tom Lake. Print / Large print / Playaway / eBook / eAudiobook.

Tremor by Teju Cole. A powerful, wide-ranging novel that masterfully explores what constitutes a meaningful life in a violent world. Print.

The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff. A servant girl escapes from a colonial settlement in the wilderness. She carries nothing with her but her wits, a few possessions, and the spark of god that burns hot within her. What she finds in this terra incognita is beyond the limits of her imagination and will bend her belief in everything that her own civilization has taught her. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

The Vegan by Andrew Lipstein. Herschel Caine is a soon-to-be master of the universe. His hedge fund, built on the miracle of machine learning, is inches away from systematically extracting obscene profits from the market. But on the night of May 12, at his elegant Cobble Hill townhouse, he has something else on his mind–the dinner party he and his wife have devised to woo their new A-list neighbors. When a devilish prank goes horrifically awry, plunging him into a tailspin of guilt and regret, he clings to the moral clarity he finds in the last place he’d expect: a sudden connection with a neighborhood dog. Print.

Victory City by Salman Rushdie. The epic tale of a woman who breathes a fantastical empire into existence, only to be consumed by it over the centuries. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

Wandering Souls by Cecile Pin. After the last American troops leave Vietnam, siblings Anh, Minh, and Thanh journey to Hong Kong with the promise that their parents and younger siblings will soon follow. But when tragedy strikes, the three children are left orphaned, and sixteen-year-old Anh becomes the caretaker for her two younger brothers overnight. Told through lyrical narrative threads, historical research, voices from lost family, and notes by an unnamed narrator determined to chart these siblings’ fates, Wandering Souls captures the lives of a family marked by loss yet relentless in the pursuit of a better future. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jimenez. A Puerto Rican family in Staten Island discovers their long‑missing sister is potentially alive and cast on a reality TV show, and they set out to bring her home. Print / eBook.

What you are Looking for is in the Library by Michiko Aoyama. For fans of Before the Coffee Gets Cold, a charming, internationally bestselling Japanese novel about how the perfect book recommendation can change a readers’ life. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

The Wren, the Wren by Anne Enright. From Booker-prize winning author Anne Enright, an astonishing novel about the love between mother and daughter–sometimes fierce, often painful, but always transcendent. Print.

Y/N by Esther Yi. Surreal, hilarious, and shrewdly poignant, Y/N is a provocative literary debut about the universal longing for transcendence and the tragic struggle to assert one’s singular story amidst the amnesiac effects of globalization. Print / eBook.

Yellowface by R.F. Kuang. In this chilling and hilariously cutting novel, bestselling sensation Juniper Song is not who she says she is, she didn’t write the book she claims she wrote, and she is most certainly not Asian American. Print / Large print / Playaway / eBook / eAudiobook.


The 272: the Families who Were Enslaved and Sold to Build the American Catholic Church by Rachel L. Swarns. In 1838, a group of America’s most prominent Catholic priests sold 272 enslaved people to save their largest mission project, what is now Georgetown University. In this groundbreaking account, journalist, author, and professor Rachel L. Swarns follows one family through nearly two centuries of indentured servitude and enslavement to uncover the harrowing origin story of the Catholic Church in the United States. Print / eAudiobook.

A day in the Life of Abed Salama: Anatomy of a Jerusalem Tragedy by Nathan Thrall. An indelibly human portrait of the Jewish-Palestinian struggle that offers a new understanding of the tragic history and reality of one of the most contested places on earth. Print / eBook.

A Living Remedy: a Memoir by Nicole Chung. A searing memoir of class, inequality, and grief-a daughter’s search to understand the lives her adoptive parents led, the life she forged as an adult, and the lives she’s lost. Print / eAudiobook.

Above Ground: Poems by Clint Smith. Clint Smith’s vibrant and compelling new collection traverses the vast emotional terrain of fatherhood and explores how becoming a parent has recalibrated his sense of the world. Print.

All Souls: Poems by Saskia Hamilton. Hamilton transforms compassion, fear, expectation, and memory into art of the highest order. Print.

Anansi’s Gold: the man who Looted the West, Outfoxed Washington, and Swindled the World by Yepoka Yeebo. The astounding, never-before-told story of how an audacious Ghanaian con artist pulled off one of the 20th century’s longest-running and most spectacular frauds. Print.

Chrome Valley: Poems by Mahogany L. Browne. Boldly lyrical and fiercely honest, Mahogany L. Browne’s Chrome Valley offers an intricate portrait of Black womanhood in America. Print.

The Deadline: Essays by Jill Lepore. Few, if any, historians have brought such insight, wisdom, and empathy to public discourse as Jill Lepore. Arriving at The New Yorker in 2005, Lepore, with her panoptical range and razor-sharp style, brought a transporting freshness and a literary vivacity to everything from profiles of long-dead writers to urgent constitutional analysis to an unsparing scrutiny of the woeful affairs of the nation itself. Print.

Doppelganger: a Trip Into the Mirror World by Naomi Klein. With the assistance of Sigmund Freud, Jordan Peele, Alfred Hitchcock, and bell hooks, among other accomplices, Klein uses wry humor and a keen sense of the ridiculous to face the strange doubles that haunt us–and that have come to feel as intimate and proximate as a warped reflection in the mirror. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

Fair Play: how Sports Shape the Gender Debates by Katie Barnes. Through in-depth and compassionate reporting, Barnes breaks down the misunderstood science surrounding sex and gender that has been used to keep cisgender women out of sports and has fueled debate over trans athletes participation in women’s sports. Print.

Fire Weather: a True Story From a Hotter World by John Vaillant. A stunning, panoramic exploration of the symbiotic relationship between humans and combustion and why we are entering a new century of fire. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

From From: Poems by Monica Youn. “Where are you from . . .? No–where are you from from?” It’s a question every Asian American gets asked as part of an incessant chorus saying you’ll never belong here, you’re a perpetual foreigner, you’ll always be seen as an alien, an object, or a threat. Monica Youn’s From From brilliantly evokes the conflicted consciousness of deracination. Print.

The Good Life: Lessons From the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness by Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz. What makes for a happy life, a fulfilling life? A good life? The directors of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted, show that the answer to these questions may be closer than you realize. Print / eBook.

The Great White Bard: how to Love Shakespeare While Talking About Race by Farah Karim-Cooper. Combining piercing analysis of race, gender and otherness in famous plays from Antony and Cleopatra to The Tempest with a radical reappraisal of Elizabethan London, The Great White Bard asks us neither to idealize nor bury Shakespeare but instead to look him in the eye and reckon with the discomforts of his plays, playhouses and society. In inviting new perspectives and interpretations, we may yet prolong and enrich his extraordinary legacy. Print / eAudiobook.

The Half Known Life: in Search of Paradise by Pico Iyer. A journey through competing ideas of paradise to see how we can live more peacefully in an ever more divided and distracted world. Print.

How not to Kill Yourself: a Portrait of the Suicidal Mind by Clancy Martin. An intimate, insightful, at times even humorous blend of memoir and philosophy that examines why the thought of death is so compulsive for some while demonstrating that there’s always another solution–from the acclaimed writer and philosophy professor, based on his viral essay, “I’m Still Here.” Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

How to say Babylon: a Memoir by Safiya Sinclair. With echoes of Educated and Born a Crime, How to Say Babylon is the stunning story of the author’s struggle to break free of her rigid Rastafarian upbringing, ruled by her father’s strict patriarchal views and repressive control of her childhood, to find her own voice as a woman and poet. Print / Large print / eBook / eAudiobook.

I am Still with You: a Reckoning With Silence, Inheritance, and History by Emmanuel Iduma. A deeply moving, lyrical journey through the author’s homeland of Nigeria, in search of the truth about his disappeared uncle and the history of a war that shaped him, his family, and a nation. Print.

I Love Russia: Reporting from a lost Country by Elena Kostyuchenko. To be a journalist is to tell the truth. I Love Russia is Elena Kostyuchenko’s unrelenting attempt to document her country as experienced by those whom it systematically and brutally erases: village girls recruited into sex work, queer people in the outer provinces, patients and doctors at a Ukrainian maternity ward, and reporters like herself. Print.

King: a Life by Jonathan Eig. Hailed by The New York Times as “the new definitive biography,” King mixes revelatory new research with accessible storytelling to offer an MLK for our times. Print / Playaway / eAudiobook.

Liliana’s Invincible Summer: a Sister’s Search for Justice by Cristina Rivera Garza. A searing account of grief and the quest to bring her sister’s murderer to justice years after the fact. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

The male Gazed: on Hunks, Hearthrobs, and what pop Culture Taught me About (Desiring) Men by Manuel Betancourt. Featuring deep dives into thirst traps, drag queens, Antonio Banderas, and telenovelas–all in the service of helping us reframe how we talk about (desiring) men–this insightful memoir-in-essays is as much a coming of age as a coming out book. Print.

Master Slave Husband Wife: an epic Journey from Slavery to Freedom by Ilyon Woo. The remarkable true story of Ellen and William Craft, who escaped slavery through daring, determination, and disguise, with Ellen passing as a wealthy, disabled White man and William posing as “his” slave. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

Mott Street: a Chinese American Family’s Story of Exclusion and Homecoming by Ava Chin. A sweeping narrative history of the Chinese Exclusion Act through an intimate portrayal of one family’s epic journey to lay down roots in America. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

My name is Barbra by Barbra Streisand. The long-awaited memoir by the superstar of stage, screen, recordings, and television. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

None of the Above: Reflections on life Beyond the Binary by Travis Alabanza. A memoir exploring what it means to live outside the normative boundaries imposed by society, from an award-winning trans writer and performer. Print.

Our Migrant Souls: a Meditation on race and the Meanings and Myths of “Latino” by Hector Tobar. A new book by the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer about the twenty-first-century Latino experience and identity. Print / eBook.

Owner of a Lonely Heart: a Memoir by Beth Nguyen. From the award-winning author of Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, a powerful memoir of a mother-daughter relationship fractured by war and resettlement. Print.

Pageboy: a Memoir by Elliot Page. Full of intimate stories, from chasing down secret love affairs to battling body image and struggling with familial strife, Pageboy is a love letter to the power of being seen. With this evocative and lyrical debut, Oscar-nominated star Elliot Page captures the universal human experience of searching for ourselves and our place in this complicated world. Print / Playaway / eBook / eAudiobook.

Poverty, by America by Matthew Desmond. In this landmark book, acclaimed sociologist Matthew Desmond draws on history, research, and original reporting to show how affluent Americans knowingly and unknowingly keep poor people poor. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

Red Memory: the Afterlives of China’s Cultural Revolution by Tania Branigan. An indelible exploration of the invisible scar that runs through the heart of Chinese society and the souls of its citizens. Print.

Some People need Killing: a Memoir of Murder in my Country by Patricia Evangelista. Journalist Patricia Evangelista came of age in the aftermath of a street revolution that forged a new future for the Philippines. Three decades later, in the face of mounting inequality, the nation discovered the fragility of its democratic institutions under the regime of strongman Rodrigo Duterte. Some People Need Killing is Evangelista’s meticulously reported and deeply human chronicle of the Philippines’ drug war. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

Spare by Prince Harry. For the first time, Prince Harry tells his own story, chronicling his journey with raw, unflinching honesty. A landmark publication, Spare is full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief. Print / Large print / Playaway / Spanish / CD Book / eBook / eAudiobook.

The Talk by Darrin Bell. Darrin Bell was six years old when his mother told him he couldn’t have a realistic water gun. She said she feared for his safety, that police tend to think of little Black boys as older and less innocent than they really are. Through evocative illustrations and sharp humor, Bell examines how The Talk shaped intimate and public moments from childhood to adulthood. Print.

Thin Skin: Essays by Jenn Shapland. A wrenching, loving and trenchant examination of feminism, nuclear weapons production, healthcare, queerness and American life. Print.

Thunderclap: a Memoir of art and life & Sudden Death by Laura Cumming. Cumming combines first-rate art history with deeply felt memoir in this fascinating, little-known story of the massive explosion in Holland that killed Carel Fabritius, renowned painter of The Goldfinch and A View of Delft and nearly killed Johannes Vermeer–two of the greatest artists of the 17th century. Print.

To Free the Captives: a plea for the American Soul by Tracy K. Smith. A stunning personal manifesto on memory, family, and history that explores how we in America might-together-come to a new view of our shared past. Print.

The Wager: a tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder by David Grann. From the author of Killers of the Flower Moon, a page-turning story of shipwreck, survival, and savagery, culminating in a court martial that reveals a shocking truth. The powerful narrative reveals the deeper meaning of the events on The Wager, showing that it was not only the captain and crew who ended up on trial, but the very idea of empire. Print / Large print / Playaway / eBook / eAudiobook.

Waiting to be Arrested at Night: a Uyghur Poet’s Memoir of China’s Genocide by Tahir Hamut Izgil. A poet’s account of one of the world’s most urgent humanitarian crises, and a harrowing tale of a family’s escape from genocide. Print / eBook.

When Crack was King: a People’s History of a Misunderstood Era by Donovan X. Ramsey. A vivid and frank account of the crack cocaine era and a community’s ultimate resilience, told through a cast of characters whose lives illuminate the dramatic rise and fall of the epidemic. Print / eBook.

You Could Make This Place Beautiful: a Memoir by Maggie Smith. Poet Maggie Smith explores the disintegration of her marriage and her renewed commitment to herself, beginning with one woman’s personal heartbreak, but its circles widen into a reckoning with contemporary womanhood, traditional gender roles, and the power dynamics that persist even in many progressive homes. Print / eBook / eAudiobook.

The Young Man by Annie Ernaux. Annie Ernaux’s account of her passionate love affair with A., a man some 30 years younger, when she was in her fifties. The relationship pulls her back to memories of her own youth and at the same time leaves her feeling ageless, outside of time- together with a sense that she is living her life backwards. Print.

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