December is the perfect time to make all sorts of lists. At BooksRun, we have compiled a list of the best books published in 2023. We consulted several reputable sources and narrowed the selection to the top 10 books of 2023. Although the list may not be entirely objective, as so many great books have been published, we are confident that the ones we have chosen will not disappoint you. So, without further ado, here is our selection!
The Bee Sting
by Paul Murray
“A grim and demanding and irresistible anatomy of misfortune.”
— Kirkus Reviews
The Bee Sting tells the story of the Barnes family—twelve-year-old PJ, his sister Cass, and his parents Imelda and Dickie—a contemporary well-to-do Irish family in financial, emotional, and existential trouble.
It may open up like a coming-of-age saga, but through more than 600 pages, it develops into a sad portrait of an Irish family in crisis. Those who are familiar with Paul Murray may expect a blend of humor and pathos, but this book isn’t that humorous. Nonetheless, that doesn’t make it a non-essential read. In fact, it offers plenty of suspense and revelations throughout the entire narrative until the very end, so you won’t be able to stop until you turn the last page.
The Country of the Blind
by Andrew Leland
“Emotional but never sentimental, this quest for insight delivers for its readers.”
The Country of the Blind is Andrew Leland’s memoir and his journey from sight to blindness. Soon (not known when), he will lose his site completely. He used to have full vision when he was a kid but started losing sight during his teenage years, and the degenerative eye condition has been worsening with time. It’s irreversible, so he must learn to accept and live with it. So he travels to a residential school for the blind to do both. The book is an exploration of cultural perceptions and the socioeconomics of blindness. It discusses assistive technologies, whether it’s easy to learn to read Braille as an adult, and so much more. We suggest reading this book to understand how it feels to be faced with such a challenge without actually having any other choice.
by John Vaillant
“A timely, well-written work of climate change reportage.”
The book covers the events of 2016 when a disastrous wildfire destroyed almost the entire oil town of Fort McMurray in Alberta. Wildfires are nothing new, but this one was “the most expensive.” The author calls the town “a place of “outsized dimensions,” with plenty of things being “outsized.” For instance, wildfires have always been outsized here, but the one that started in May 2016 was an exception even for these places. It was only extinguished in August 2017 and swallowed much of Fort McMurray. Why do we recommend Fire Weather? We think that it’s a good way to pay attention to the topic of climate change. “Climate science came of age in tandem with the oil and automotive industries,” the author writes, so it’s way past time to ignore such things. The story of Fort McMurray’s, though the most intense as of today, is just one of many.
by Jon Fosse, translated from the Norwegian by Damion Searls
“Fosse has been compared to Ibsen and to Beckett, and it is easy to see his work as Ibsen stripped down to its emotional essentials. But it is much more. For one thing, it has a fierce poetic simplicity.”
—New York Times
A Shining is a story about a man who gets lost in a dark forest. He goes for a drive into the countryside and ends up passing abandoned farmhouses and cabins. After his car gets stuck, he decides to leave his car and walk alone into the dark woods to find help. There, he meets a glowing creature. Jon Fosse won this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature, so you can expect more than just a story of a man who got lost in the middle of Norwegian woods. It’s hard to classify this work, and some reviewers say that the author created a new form of fiction. “Jon Fosse has managed, like few others, to carve out a literary form of his own,” says the citation for the Nordic Council Literary Prize, 2015. Even if you haven’t read any of his earlier works, we encourage you to give this hypnotic story a try.
by Esther Yi
“A heady, immersive journey into musical fandom and cultural dislocation.”
Y/N is a unique book K-pop and metafiction. It’s not like anything you’ve ever read before. Esther Yi invites you to explore the world of her unnamed narrator, who begins writing fanfic after encountering Moon, the youngest member of a K-pop band. The unique thing about this fanfic is that you, the reader, can insert your name—Y/N—in place of the protagonist, making the story personal and intimate to you. Now, you’re the protagonist in an intimate relationship with the K-pop star. Are you intrigued? Fascinated? Does anything feel painfully familiar? The book has been featured in the top lists of 2023 by several prominent media outlets, including the New Yorker. So, even if you’ve never understood the nature of any fandom (not just K-pop-related), we recommend Y/N. You must have felt truly lonely at least once in your life, and that’s enough to give it a try.
A History of Fake Things on the Internet
by Walter Scheirer
A History of Fake Things on the Internet is Walter Scheirer’s exploration of the world of fake news, where he examines various conspiracy theories, reports of the paranormal, and all sorts of deviations from reality that we encounter every day in media and that to a certain extent have entered mainstream culture to stay. The author couldn’t have chosen a more topical issue in the context of everything happening in the world and the news we read every day. It’s been getting more and more complicated to differentiate what’s real and what’s fake, so we do recommend this book to everyone who wants to trace how fakes appeared and developed—from early scams to AI-generated deepfakes—and whether they are viciously deceptive tools aimed to revise reality or it’s just one of the expressive forms of human behavior.
by Devorah Baum
“A rollicking account about marriage in books, movies, and culture, told with authority and genuine warmth.”
You may have never thought that marriage—the subject that looks like it has been dissected, discussed, and understood in all kinds of ways. Yet, Devorah Baum admits that it’s never been really examined by professional philosophers and pretty much—by artists and writers. So, in her work, she looks at marriage through the lens of various thinkers and writers, including the works of the novelist Taffy Brodesser-Akner, the theorist Slavoj Žižek, and the screenwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge, etc. As a literature professor, she seems to have read everything on matrimony and managed to cover it from all possible angles, from a religious perspective and a modern approach to divorce. If you’ve been looking for an utterly fascinating read with bits of personal touch and comments on her own marriage, On Marriage is something you have to read.
The Lies of the Land
by Steven Conn
In The Lies of the Land, Steven Conn offers a fresh and critical perspective on rural America. Why should you pay attention to this book even though you may not be that interested in the topic? The thing is that it offers a very unusual and challenging perspective that rural America isn’t that much different from the rest of the country. He even states that the concept of the rural United States is, in fact, highly artificial. Pretty much the same forces have shaped rural life in America and other regions, and there’s plenty of power and traces of industrialization in the country as well as in the city. Steven Conn’s book is a great chance to step away from all sorts of generalizations and misleading notions about rural life and look through a wider and more specific lens.
by Lore Segal
“Gemlike stories from a master of the form.”
Ladies’ Lunch is a collection of sixteen new stories by Lore Segal, a writer who is considered a national treasure. She writes about old friends who have met for lunch together once a month for over 40 years. And you have a fantastic opportunity to see how they’ve lived, loved, made friends, and aged together. The book was published on the occasion of Lore Segal’s 95th birthday, so it’s quite obvious that the characters are loosely based on herself and her friends. If you’ve been looking for a read from an author with fantastic wit, Ladies’ Lunch is the one. If you’re curious about how one can approach the topic of aging with dignity and humor, don’t ignore the book. And don’t be surprised to find yourself cackling while reading it.