Best of Books for 2023
It’s that time of year for all the best book lists. And I am here for them. Give me the lists of books that nourished you. The ones that made you think. The book you couldn’t put down and the one you have underlined and dog-eared. Give me the books that shed light on important topics. Show me your favorite Rom Com and the book that made you laugh out loud in public.
Here’s the gift of stories — they connect us to others and to the world. Stories open our lives to the myriad gifts before us. They show us beauty. They remind us how far we have to go to bring true peace and freedom to all. They convict us and teach us. And ultimately, books help bring a bit of goodness to the spaces we inhabit.
Below I have a few of my favorite reads from the year. (I’m at 54 read currently) Happy Reading!
A book for people who love books: The Lonely Hearts Book Club by Lucy Gilmore tells the story of a group of people who become connected through books. After I read this one, I added a whole host of new books to read based on their conversations in this book.
Books of poetry for people who don’t think they like poetry: The Path To Kindness: Poems of Connection and Joy is a great collection of contemporary poetry. Many of the poets write about their day to day lives and where they see hope. And of course, I had to include Mary Oliver’s Devotions which has a permanent place on my nightstand. Her poetry always helps me pay attention to the natural world and the beauty before me.
Best book club book: The Measure by Nikki Erlick. The premise of this book is so interesting and ripe for conversation. If you could know the day you’d die, would you want to find out?
A book to inspire hope in the human spirit: Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri was recommended to my by so many people. I finally chose the book for my own in person book club and devoured this story of an immigrant boy whose family comes to live in rural America.
When you need the prayers of others: The Lives We Actually Have by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie also has a permanent place on my nightstand. This book of blessings and prayers is for people who don’t think they know how to pray, but who desire to deepen their own prayer practice. Their words can meet you on the days you feel like giving up or when you wonder if your quirkiness is a gift.
Feminist Prayers for My Daughter by Shannon Evans is a small book of prayers with a big message for women — those of us as mothers and those of us mothered by others.
Book on creativity and art that will fuel your inspiration: Let There Be Art by Rachel Marie Kang has a great mix of reflection, questions to ponder, poetry, and practices to inspire creativity.
Stunning memoir: You Could Make this Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith. This book is a must read not only for its story of divorce, resilience, and what makes a family, but for the craft of writing.
The book to read if you love food, friendship, and writing letters: Love and Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love by Kim Fay is written solely in letters between two women who become the best of friends through their love of food and eventually one another.
The collection of essays to remind you of the wonder and beauty of nature: World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil.
The read alouds I’m Loving with my kids: Dory Fantasmagory, Princess in Black, Ivy and Bean.
Audiobooks that kept our car rides from chaos: My Weird School and Anna Hibiscus.
A book to read over and over again: In the Sanctuary of Women by Jan Richardson was another book I read over the course of a few months each morning. I knew I had read it before based on how many phrases were underlined. This book is an invitation to prayer and reflection sharing stories of Eve, Brigid, the Desert Mothers, and other women from Christian history.
Book to get you out of a reading slump: West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge came at the perfect time (chosen for my local book club) when I needed a book to finish. I went through a reading funk where I couldn’t finish a book, until this one. Based on a true story of two giraffes who survive a hurricane at sea and travel across the country to the San Diego Zoo, this is a heartwarming story of resilience and love — for others and for animals.
The newest Kate DiCamillo book if you’ve read all her other books: The Puppets of Spelhorst tells the tale of puppets and the magic that happens through stories and being loved by others.
A cozy Christmas read: The Book Club Hotel by Sarah Morgan provided the perfect December read set in an idyllic Vermont Inn.
And finally, the best book to gift to new mamas, for baptisms, baby showers, or the mama who could use the reminder she’s not alone — the book that gives thanks for motherhood in all its mess and grace: The Beauty of Motherhood: Grace-Filled Devotions for the Early Years1 written by me and my friend Erin Strybis.
“A perfect gift to yourself and any mother in your life. The beautiful words of Kim and Erin reach in to touch your heart and soul. There are moments in life when a mom can feel so alone and lost, but "The Beauty of Motherhood" wraps you in beautiful, relatable stories from real mothers.” -Amazon Review