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I Read 65 Books in 2023: Here Are My Top 10

For the people who know me — or honestly, even for the people who have heard of me — there is almost nothing about me more obvious than my love for reading. In 2023, I read a grand total of 65 books from a plethora of genres, and as a reader tends to, I have my favorites. The following are my top 10 books, in descending order, of 2023.

(Quick note: if you are looking for summaries of these books, this may not be the best place, as I will focus mostly on reviews.)


10. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

The Age of Innocence was my first classic novel of the year, and what a way to start. Wharton is incredibly clever, and her wit and intimate relationship with the world she grew up in shines through in this devastating love story set in New York City’s golden age, the 1920s. Wharton grew up in a very similar society to her characters, one of opulence and opportunity but perhaps also one of romantic and artistic restriction, especially for women. I found each character in this book to be accurately flawed and worthy of attention. Our main character, Newland Archer, is a great example of a man written by a woman. One who learns to change his perception of his society and how it views the woman he loves for something so scandalous as wanting a better life for herself.


9. Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

I do love a good dark academia book, but it’s been hard for me to find one that covers the more cutting problems with the world we live in. Luckily, Ace of Spades is a beautifully wrought debut that doesn’t hold back in fighting loudly against white supremacy, institutionalized racism, and homophobia against the setting of an exclusive and expensive private school. The twists and turns in this book can only be described as mesmerizing, and I don’t think I saw a single one coming. One reviewer on Goodreads described it as “Get Out meets Gossip Girl”, and I couldn’t agree more. I won’t lie — it wasn’t an easy book to read, but with the topics it covers, I don’t believe it should be. And I do believe it is a very necessary book to read. Also, it’s just very, very good.


8. The Whispering Dark by Kelly Andrew

And here we have another spellbinding debut for the speculative fiction fans out there. I could not put this book down. It had everything I could want in a fantasy horror — a mysterious private school with a dark secret (can you tell I have a type?), hauntingly beautiful prose, two leads who put me on the edge of my seat with their confusing and fascinating relationship, and representation, specifically disability representation by a deaf author who not only knows what she’s talking about but does so in a way that inexorably enhanced my reading experience. I can definitely see why this book wouldn’t be to everyone’s tastes, but if you’re a fan of paranormal mystery, I would suggest giving this one a go. 


7. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Another classic, and one I cannot believe I hadn’t read before last year. It’s a classic for a reason; Shelley’s ability to conjure complex feelings about society and humanity and the universe through such a single-minded and oblivious narrator as Victor Frankenstein is nothing short of genius. Let’s not forget that Mary Shelley was a teenager when she wrote this book, as a dare no less, and it went on to become a paragon and founding text of science fiction as we know it (and for those who say she didn’t have an extraordinary hand in creating sci-fi, argue with the wall). Please forgive me for my brashness, but I’m fully convinced that those who have read this book and disliked it have somehow missed everything important inside of it. I’ve already got plans to reread; Frankenstein may indeed be my new favorite classic. 


6. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Here we have another science fiction novel, and if you told me a year ago that I would have any sci-fi in my Top 10, let alone two, I would have said you have the absolute wrong person. I have nothing against the genre, I just always thought of my tastes as a little too romantic and whimsical for what I believed it to be. That was until I read this book last fall. Ishiguro is an irrefutable master at not giving things away until the last possible moment. His control over abeyance is until anything I’ve seen before, and I found a heartbreaking and extremely endearing narrator in Klara. It’s a book that holds everything close to the chest, but once you reach the end and the sun comes out, and the confusion and secrets are resolved, it’s maybe one of the most profound and affecting books I’ve read in recent memory. 


5. The Colossus by Sylvia Plath

For the first poetry book on this list, we have the classic collection by my favorite poet. A confessional poet through and through, Plath’s mastery of evocative imagery is so extremely evident in this collection, and what a beautifully constructed collection it is. It is mad and devastating, with each poem feeding into the others and revealing something new about the writer and reader alike. It is verifiably un-put-down-able, and though many of the poems took a few reads for me to fully grasp, it was completely worth the effort. It is dreamy and ethereal and gut-wrenching and full of stunning language. 


4. When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry by Joy Harjo

Another poetry collection, and one unlike anything I’ve read before. Joy Harjo, once Poet Laureate of the United States and the first Native person to hold that position, along with co-editors LeAnne Howe and Jennifer Elise Foerster, have put together an utterly entrancing anthology of work by Indigenous poets from the far reaches of the continent and beyond. I may be biased as a Native person, but there truly is no poetry like Indigenous poetry when it comes to invoking the feeling of being universal. The sections, each named after a region of the continent, are arranged chronologically, from some of the earliest Native writers known to literature to the ones making current waves in the world of poetry and culture. There is so much to this book that I’m not sure any review of it could be complete; there is always something new to see, and new words to discover. 


3. Emma by Jane Austen

Of the Austen novels I have read (which admittedly isn’t many), I found Emma to be my favorite. I know plenty of people, including myself until the last year or so, who shy away from classic literature because of the complicated language characteristic of books written in the 1800s and earlier. Emma is utterly hilarious, the best kind of comedy in the original sense of the word. A love letter to friendship, to love, to heroines who may be too witty for their own good. I just loved it. I’m not sure there’s a whole lot to say other than it’s a classic for a reason, and Emma might be one of my favorite protagonists of recent memory. She is just so entertaining to read about. 


2. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Sometimes a book becomes a favorite because, on top of the great characters or the unique plot or the beautiful writing, it comes to you at just the right time. That was definitely the case with this book. I do love a story about stories, and as a girl who was raised on Narnia and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, there’s nothing quite like a good, aesthetically pleasing portal fantasy. This is a story about doorways, about looking for other worlds hidden just inside your own. And there’s a dog! A dog who is clever, loyal, funny, and undeniably my favorite character. As a whole, the book was comforting and joyful, but not the least bit predictable. I understand why the book-within-a-book trope may turn some people off, but for me, it made the experience and the atmosphere of the book a thousand (or ten thousand?) times more enjoyable.


1. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Choosing a Number One Read for a year always seems a daunting task, but for me, 2023’s winner was a no-brainer. This choice is definitely the most personal on this list, as I related to this book and the characters within more than I care to admit. This is a book about family and culture and community and identity, and what it means to belong vs. what it feels like to belong. I honestly can’t believe this is Boulley’s debut novel; it’s so intelligent and confident and I am in awe of its writer. Firekeeper’s Daughter is a very personal favorite for me as it delves into a lot of themes that I really relate to, especially regarding Indigenous identity and what it means to be Native, but not necessarily feel like you’ve been welcomed into that community. I couldn’t put this one down, and I would do anything for Daunis. Anything. The follow-up, Warrior Girl Unearthed, recently came out and it’s already on my bookshelf waiting to be read, and I can’t wait to do just that. 

For more of my literary opinions, tune in to PRISM’s podcast “Refraction” season 1, episode 2, where I will be ranking all of the books I read in 2023.

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About the Contributor
Brynne Boehlecke
Brynne Boehlecke, Volunteer
Brynne Boehlecke (she/they) is a second-year creative writing major with an Indigenous studies minor. She is the vice president of the Student Literary Club and a member of the Native American Students Association and the Creative Writing Society at OSU. They enjoy writing and reading poetry and fantasy, calligraphy, talking to her dogs, and naming their plants after Shakespeare characters. She’s from Las Vegas and they plan to be a poet and novelist.

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    Alina KrollFeb 26, 2024 at 1:59 pm

    This was interesting to read! I read Klara and the Sun this year, but I haven’t picked up any of your other top 10 books. Thanks for sharing and giving me some new reading recommendations (: