I decided to once again have a yearly TBR for 2023, after having it be successful to varying degrees over the past few years (see: 2020, 2021, & 2022 TBRs). But I think I figured out a process that will work for me actually picking up – and enjoying – these books. So here are 17 books I want to read in 2023.
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon | The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.
It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.
This story sounds like such a perfect blend of dystopian and urban fantasy and rich worldbuilding and I want more of all of that in my life this year.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt | Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last—inexorably—into evil.
It’s the slow descent into madness and corruption for me. And I love and enigmatic leader more than almost anything, so I am very happy to finally pick this up.
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo | Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?
Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.
This is a re-read, but I still put it on my TBR, because I really want to do a re-read before I pick up Hell Bent – hopefully sooner rather than later. I didn’t love this as much as I wanted the first time around, but I’m excited for the rest of the series.
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson | Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in fragile bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the thinnest. But then Cassie suffers the ultimate loss—her life—and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend’s memory, and feeling guilty for not being able to help save her.
In her most powerfully moving novel since Speak, award-winning author, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s struggle, her painful path to recovery, and her desperate attempts to hold on to the most important thing of all—hope.
My sister read this last year and said it was very powerful, and that made me want to read it.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire | Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.
This is the story of what happened first…
Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.
Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you’ve got.
They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.
They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.
I loved Jack and Jill in book 1 and as a twin, I love seeing that relationship explored in books.
Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire | When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can’t let Reality get in the way of her quest – not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.) If she can’t find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests…
A tale of friendship, baking, and derring-do. Warning: May contain nuts.
I’m trying not to read the synopsis for these books because they’re so short and I like not really knowing anything going into books to begin with, but from the title, this seems like it’s related to Confection.
In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire | This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should. When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.
All I know is that this is my sister’s favorite book in the series (not counting the one that just came out that she hasn’t read yet.), so I’m excited to get to it.
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman | Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.
When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.
I don’t really know anything about this. I just want to read all of Fredrik Backman’s books because they are a but punch that’s a joy to experience.
The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware | On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.
Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the centre of it.
I’ve seen many people say this is one of Ruth Ware’s best books, and if that wasn’t enough to hook me, wanted to read more mysteries and thrillers would do it.
Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter | What if the person you thought you knew best turns out to be someone you never knew at all . . . ?
Andrea knows everything about her mother, Laura. She knows she’s spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Belle Isle; she knows she’s never wanted anything more than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she’s never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don’t we?
But all that changes when a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura, she was someone completely different. For nearly thirty years she’s been hiding from her previous identity, lying low in the hope that no one would ever find her. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again.
The police want answers and Laura’s innocence is on the line, but she won’t speak to anyone, including her own daughter. Andrea is on a desperate journey following the breadcrumb trail of her mother’s past. And if she can’t uncover the secrets hidden there, there may be no future for either one of them. . . .
Karin Slaughter writes some of the messiest and complex female relationships I’ve seen explored in thrillers and I can’t wait to read more from her.
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray | In this debut gothic novel mysterious visions, dark family secrets and a long-lost diary thrust Gemma and her classmates back into the horrors that followed her from India.
It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?
I am so picky when it comes to historical stories – usually I like some fantasy or magical element to be involved, or at least for the story to be in a unique time period or setting. But I read a short story related to this universe, and found the blend of historical and fantasy elements promising, but I loved the humor and the characters already had strong personalities, so it seemed promising.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller | Achilles, “the best of all the Greeks,” son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful, irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods’ wrath.
They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.
This has been on my TBR for at least 3 years, and I’m determined to finally read it.
The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle | We’ve been waiting for an hour. That’s what Audrey says. She states it with a little bit of an edge, her words just bordering on cursive. That’s the thing I think first. Not: Audrey Hepburn is at my birthday dinner, but Audrey Hepburn is annoyed.
At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Rebecca Serle contends within her utterly captivating novel, The Dinner List, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as One Day, and the life-changing romance of Me Before You.
When Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also three significant people from her past, and well, Audrey Hepburn. As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together.
Delicious but never indulgent, sweet with just the right amount of bitter, The Dinner List is a romance for our times. Bon appetit.
This just seems like an interesting story, and I want to see it unfold. Sometimes, it’s really that simple.
Night Film by Marisha Pessl | On a damp October night, 24-year-old Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror film director Stanislaus Cordova–a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.
For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself.
Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world. The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more.
I think there’s some meta-horror commentary in this and that is very exciting to me.
The Siren by Katherine St. John | In the midst of a sizzling hot summer, some of Hollywood’s most notorious faces are assembled on the idyllic Caribbean island of St. Genesius to film The Siren, starring dangerously handsome megastar Cole Power playing opposite his ex-wife, Stella Rivers. The surefire blockbuster promises to entice audiences with its sultry storyline and intimately connected cast.
Three very different women arrive on set, each with her own motive. Stella, an infamously unstable actress, is struggling to reclaim the career she lost in the wake of multiple, very public breakdowns. Taylor, a fledgling producer, is anxious to work on a film she hopes will turn her career around after her last job ended in scandal. And Felicity, Stella’s mysterious new assistant, harbors designs of her own that threaten to upend everyone’s plans.
With a hurricane brewing offshore, each woman finds herself trapped on the island, united against a common enemy. But as deceptions come to light, misplaced trust may prove more perilous than the storm itself..
Dark comedies with rich people problems will always be a favorite sub-genre of mine and I loved St. John’s previous book, The Lion’s Den.
Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean by Murray et al | These are just a few of the stories told in Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean, a feminist speculative fiction collection, born of a collaboration between Australian and Indian writers. Finding themselves inspired to action after crimes against women dominated national conversations, the editors of this collection paired writers and illustrators from India and Australia together to write stories, graphic novels, and even a play that reimagine what girls can be and see themselves as.
The results are stunning. Some of the authors worked together, some wrote stories along a similar theme, but all seventeen stories blend magical realism and self-confidence in a powerful and inspiring way.
I really want to read more anthologies, and it’s so hard for me to find adult ones I’m interested in, so I thought I’d read the last YA one I have on my shelves.
Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez | “This is East Texas, and there’s lines. Lines you cross, lines you don’t cross. That clear?”
New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them.
“No Negroes, Mexicans, or dogs.”
They know the people who enforce them.
“They all decided they’d ride out in their sheets and pay Blue a visit.”
But sometimes the attraction between two people is so powerful it breaks through even the most entrenched color lines. And the consequences can be explosive.
“More than grief, more than anger, there is a need. Someone to blame. Someone to make pay.”
Ashley Hope Pérez takes the facts of the 1937 New London school explosion—the worst school disaster in American history—as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people.
Each year me and my sister choose 1 book for each other’s yearly TBR and this is her pick for me this year. The only thing I know it that it’s very sad and will likely make me cry.
What are some books you’re planning on picking up this year? Share below!
2 thoughts on “2023 TBR”
I’m also going to read Bone Season and song of Achilles this year. I hope you enjoy these books.
In An Absent Dream is my favourite book in the series too. Hope you enjoy it!