I completed my reading challenge last year and read 104 books so, as is tradition, I’m sharing a list below and highlighting my favourites of the year. If you would like to see my favourites from previous years you can find them here: 2021, 2020, and 2019.
In last year’s book post, I separated the books into genres which many of you said was useful, so I’m going to do that again this year. I also found this method really useful last year, as it showed me that no only did I read a lot more non-fiction than I thought but also it was the genre in which I gave the most 5 star reviews. Note to self: must seek out more non-fiction in 2023 – if you have any you would recommend, please let me know!
All of the books in bold are ones I gave 5 stars, which have a mini review underneath. There are some mini-reviews for other books I felt needed them, but if you are particularly interested in a specific book below and would like to know what I thought of it, just ask.
Table of Contents
- Hidden Valley Road, Robert Kolker – One family with 12 children, 6 of whom were diagnosed with schizophrenia. The family were studied over many years to try to understand their conditions, leading to breakthroughs essential to today’s medical understanding of the disease.
- The Stranger In The Woods, Michael Finkel – A true story of a hermit living undetected in the wilderness in America.
- Bad Blood: Secrets And Lies In a Silicone Valley Start Up, John Carreyrou – You’ve probably seen The Dropout (currently on Disney+ if not), the true story of medtech scammer Elizabeth Holmes and her company Theranos. This is the book it’s based on and it’s great. So much detail and even more shocking than the TV series.
- This Was Hollywood: Forgotten Stars & Stories, Carla Valderrama – A beautiful coffee table book filled with stories about the golden age of Hollywood. There are so many stories in here that I’d never heard, people I’d never heard of who should be much more famous, and interesting glances into the early days of Hollywood.
- Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, And The Drug Company That Addicted America, Beth Macy – A really in-depth, interesting but devastating book looking at the opioid crisis in America and how it started. I think this has also been turned into a TV series.
- Unnatural Causes: The Life And Many Deaths Of Britain’s Top Forensic Pathologist, Richard Shepherd
- Men Who Hate Women: From Incels To Pick-Up Artists, Laura Bates – This book made me so angry, so sad, and so fearful for where we’re heading. If you have been following the Andrew Tate story and have glimpsed a world of severe online misogyny and want to read more about it this is a great place to start as it covers every angle.
- Somebody’s Daughter, Ashley C. Ford
- A Carnival Of Snackery, David Sedaris
- Catch Me If You Can, Frank W. Abagnale
- All Made Up: The Power And Pitfalls Of Beauty Culture, Rae Nudson
- The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf – This was really interesting (if very outdated as it’s 30 years old) but unfortunately Naomi Wolf is now a loopy anti-vaxxer who believes that Apple are creating technology to sneak vaccines into our bodies that also enable us to timetravel so…
- All The Lies They Did Not Tell, Pablo Trincia – If you’re interested in satanic panics, this is a really interesting book about a small Italian town and the craziness that happened there.
- Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris
- Tall Tales And Wee Stories: The Best Of Billy Connolly – I was really enjoying this until the repeated homophobic and fatphobic bits. I know it’s a collection of older sets and I’d hope he wasn’t like this now… but it really ruined it tbh.
- This Much Is True, Miriam Margolyes
- Theroux The Keyhole: Diaries Of A Grounded Documentary Maker – Sometimes you read a memoir and wish you hadn’t as it makes you think very differently about the person in question. This is one of those books. Staggered that no one in his life told him this was a bad idea.
- The Hungover Games, Sophie Heawood
- Shakespeare: The World As Stage, Bill Bryson
- Reaching Down The Rabbit Hole: Extraordinary Jounerys Into The Human Brain, Allan H Ropper & Brian David Burrell
- Fear: Essential Wisdom For Getting Through The Storm, Thich Nhat Hanh
- Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want To Come, Jessica Pan
- More Than A Body, Lexie Kite & Lindsay Kite – I’ve found the Kite sisters online for a while and think they’re doing great work. They run the nonprofit Beauty Redefined, have PhDs in the study of female body image and speak a lot about appearance, self-confidence, and media literacy in this space. This is aimed at anyone and everyone but they work a lot with teenagers and I think this book would be a great present for a teenager in your life if you think they would benefit from some help with self-esteem and body image.
- Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
- Block, Delete, Move On: It’s Not You, It’s Them, @lalalaletmeexplain
- Happy Mind, Happy Life: 10 Simple Ways To Feel Great Every Day, Rangan Chatterjee – This book doesn’t contain anything ground-breaking, but it was the simplicity and gentle framing of small changes that appealed the most to me. Everything in this book feels achievable and meaningful.
- Be The Change, Gina Martin
- The Last House Of Needless Street, Catriona Ward
- How To Kill Your Family, Bella Mackie
- The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman
- Bunny, Mona Awad
- The Lying Game, Ruth Ware
- Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Jeff Lindsay
- One Of The Girls, Lucy Clarke
- My Sister The Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite
- The Nothing Man, Catherine Ryan Howard – I am a big CRH fan and this is an interesting mix of true crime and fiction, with echoes of the Golden State Killer story.
- The Cabin, Amy Cross
- The Plot, Jean Hanff Korelitz
- Malorie, Josh Malerman – This is a sequel to Bird Box, so if you liked that you will like this.
- The Plea, Steve Cavanagh– I flipping love Steve Cavanagh’s Eddie Flynn series. If you like crime/thrillers with a damaged-but-talented lawyer-with-a-dodgy-past main character, this will be up your alley. This is #2 in the series, so start with The Defence.
- The Liar, Steve Cavanagh
- A Study In Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle
- Mania, L J Ross – Similar to above, if you love crime/thrillers with a damaged-but-talented-forensic-psychologist main character, LJ Ross’s Alexander Gregory series is great. This is #4 in the series, so start with Imposter.
- The Sign Of Four, Arthur Conan Doyle
- Wreckage, Emily Bleeker
- The Split, Laura Kay
- The Library, Bella Osborne
- Dial A For Aunties, Jesse Q. Sutanto
- Love, Locked Down, Beth Reekles
- Welcome To Your Life, Bethany Rutter – this book really made me miss London, it’s such a big and fun part of the story. I loved the main character, the descriptions of fashion and the dating highs and lows.
- Last Night, Mhairi McFarlane
- The No-Show, Beth O’Leary
- Jane Is Trying, Isy Suttie
- Book Lovers, Emily Henry
- The Set Up, Lizzy Dent
- The Reading List, Sara Nisha Adams
- Honey And Spice, Bolu Babalola
- Reputation, Lex Croucher
- The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes, Suzanne Collins – Terrible. If you told me this was Hunger Games fanfiction I would have believed you, and still said it was badly written and too slow until the very end where 70% of the (far-fetched) plot was crammed into one chapter.
- There’s Someone Inside Your House, Stephanie Perkins – Now a Netflix film if you like to read before you watch.
FICTION: APOCALYPSE/END OF THE WORLD
- Leave The World Behind, Rumaan Alam – I could not stop thinking about this book while I was reading it or afterwards – always a good sign. It’s definitely one I will go back to again. A couple renting a holiday home are joined by the claimed owners after an unspecified ‘disaster’ in the city. The exact situation outside of the house is kept vague, which keeps this intriguing and mysterious. Apparently this is going to be made into a film with Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts which I’m excited about.
- Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel (re-read) – One of my favourite books. I wanted to re-read this before the TV series started but I’m still waiting for my husband to read it first…
- Wool, Hugh Howey (book 1) (re-read) – This embodies everything I love about the dystopia genre: world-building, politics of good regular folk vs baddies in charge, a hint at wider issues outside the immediate story, survival against the odds… just great.
- Rise: A Newsflesh Collection, Mira Grant – This gathers all of the books set in Mira Grant’s Newsflash world, where scientists who found the cure for the common cold unleashed something much worse. Potentially my favourite apocalypsy stories of all time? Bold claims.
- The Last Children Of Tokyo, Yoko Tawada
- All That’s Left In The World, Erik J Brown – One of my absolute favourites of the year, this is a fantastic story of two teenage boys who have dealt with the end of the world very differently before teaming up. A lovely postapocalyptic, queer YA adventure romance that I desperately wanted to be a series.
- Everything You Ever Wanted, Luiza Sauma – If you were given the option to join a team repopulating a new world in another dimension would you do it? What if you could never return, never speak to anyone on earth again, and had every moment shared online as entertainment? A fascinating commentary on modern life, mental health, and the grass appearing greener.
- The Darkness, W.J. Lundy
- Last One At The Party, Bethany Clift – I am convinced this book was written for me as it ticks so many of my boxes. A London woman survives a pandemic and appears to be the only person left in the world. Lots of detail on how she survives in various locations, which tends to be my favourite aspect of these stories. It’s a little far-fetched in parts but when isn’t an apocalypse scenario far-fetched?
- The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead – Harrowing dramatisation that will break your heart. A story about a boys reform ‘school’ in 1960s Florida that shines a light on the racism and class divides that impacted the lives of everyone there. Winner of the Pulitzer prize for fiction. (if you need anymore convincing!)
- Single, Carefree, Mellow, Katherine Heiny
- Luster, Raven Leilani – Provacative, funny, upsetting, and – in parts – hard to read. This is one of those books that was everywhere and really seemed to divide people. Some didn’t like it because ‘nothing happened’ and the main character is quite unlikeable, but I liked its quiet hopelessness and meandering plot. It felt very similar in vibe to ‘Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead’, ‘Pizza Girl’ , and ‘The New Me’.
- Boy Parts, Eliza Clark – I was intrigued after hearing this described as American Psycho if Patrick Bateman was a woman from Newcastle. This is another book that people either loved or hated – I am definitely in the latter camp. Another deeply unlikeable main character if that is your jam. I doubt I’ll feel compelled to read this again in the future, but it’s unlike anything else I’ve read.
- Olive, Emma Gannon
- The Cows, Dawn O’Porter
- If I Had Your Face, Frances Cha
- Nightbitch, Rachel Yoder
FICTION: GRAPHIC NOVELS
FYI: With graphic novels, I counted the collected volumes towards my book goal – not the individual books (otherwise I would’ve more than doubled my reading count!).
- The Walking Dead (vol 14-32 [books #79-193]), Robert Kirkman – I wanted to finish this before the TV series ended, although I’m not sure why as they are two completely different stories at this point. I really loved this series and will no doubt read them again.
- The Fall (vol 1), Jared Muralt– Beautifully drawn apocalypse story (you cannot be surprised at that)
- The Beautiful Death, Mathieu Bablet
- Paper Girls (vol 1-3 [books #1-15]), Brian K. Vaughan
- The Umbrella Academy (vol 1-3), Gerard Way, Gabriel Ba
- Nineteen-Eighty Four: The Graphic Novel, Fido Nesti – Obviously I’ve read the original before (dystopia? tick!) and I wasn’t too sure how a graphic novel adaptation would work, but I was pleasantly surprised. This felt fresh, interesting, and was visually gorgeous.
What have been your favourite reads this year? What are your favourites of all time? What would you recommend I read next? This year I’m aiming for 120 books, so please do send over your favourites!