Welcome to Year 11 of my annual list of favorite books and the third year of pandemic reading! I've started getting my reading mojo back and have been spending a bit more time reading than watching tv this year—268 books read in the last twelve months.
This year you'll find fiction and non-fiction, mystery and (a lot of) romance, fantasy and science fiction on my list. I read a lot of really good books and am excited to share them with you here. I did "cheat" a bit by listing books in the middle or end of a series if I thought they were worthy, but in those cases I've let you know where to start or what to read before jumping into a middle book. Consider it a bonus selection of fantastic books for you to read and maybe you'll find some new series to fall in love with as well.
All of these titles are available in our Catalog in print, and almost all are available digitally via Overdrive as well. Enjoy!
The Sign for Home: A Novel by Blair Fell
When Cyril is assigned as interpreter for Arlo, a young DeafBlind Jehovah's Witness, they both discover that the world is much larger than they thought it could be.
The Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope
A woman able to communicate with spirits must assemble a ragtag crew to pull off a daring heist to save her community. Set in the 1920's in the Black community of Washington, D.C.
Remarkably Bright Creatures: A Novel by Shelby Van Pelt
The unlikely friendship between night-time Aquarium cleaning lady and a giant Pacific octopus leads to revelations about a 30-year-old mystery
Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher
As a third daughter, Marra was never meant for fairy tales. But when she sets out to rescue her sister from a prince, Marra might become the hero this fairy tale needs.
Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly
Master Chef meets romance with this grumpy/sunshine romance that takes place on the set of a cutthroat cooking competition.
Saint Death's Daughter by C.S.E. Cooney
Lanie Stones is a necromancer allergic to violence. When her parents are killed and their debts called in, Lanie, along with the revenant who raised her, her psychotic sister, and the ghost of her grandfather who haunts her, must make their way into world.
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna
Witches are meant to stay secret and alone, but when Mika is asked to teach three young witches how to control their magic she discovers a found family that will change the course of her life.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
Elizabeth Zott is a brilliant scientist hamstrung by the conventions of the 1960's. Her life takes an unexpected detour when she becomes the beloved host of a tv cooking show. This book wins for best fictional dog of the year.
Gallant by V.E. Schwab
Olivia is a mute orphan, abandoned and raised at the Merilance School for Girls. When she turns 16 a mysterious letter arrives inviting her to her previously unknown family home where shadows and ghosts abound. Olivia must decide whether to fight the shadows of the home she's found or join them.
Flying Solo: A Novel by Linda Holmes
When a woman returns to her small hometown to take care of her aunt's estate, a wooden duck is the catalyst bringing long held family secrets out in the open, as well as a chance at new love.
A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland
In a fantasy world reminiscent of the Ottoman Empire, a young nobleman must prove his loyalty to his sister the Queen after being humiliated by a foreign ambassador. Along with his reluctant bodyguard he uncovers treason and deceit and must save his kingdom from ruin while navigating a slowly burgeoning relationship.
Blitz: A Novel by Daniel O'Malley
The third book in an excellent fantasy series (The Rook, Stiletto) explores a mystery spanning generations. Told in dual timelines, Blitz explores what can happen when members of the shadowy Chequay - the agency responsible for protecting Great Britain from supernatural threats - take matters into their own hands.While this can be read as a standalone, reading the first two will bring you much joy.
I Kissed Shara Wheeler: A Novel by Casey McQuiston
When the golden girl of Willowgrove Christian Academy kisses Chloe Green and promptly vanishes, Chloe is drawn into an unlikely alliance with Shara's football playing ex-boyfriend and the bad boy next door. When cryptic clues start appearing, the hunt for Shara Wheeler is on.
Ocean's Echo by Everina Maxwell
When a mind-reader is conscripted into the military, he is destined to be forcefully bonded to a duty-bound soldier as a means of control. But duty does not always mean following orders that are ethically wrong. Can two people take on the very institution of power from the inside?
Into the Broken Lands by Tanya Huff
In this standalone fantasy, the Broken Lands are a dangerous and deadly place but the Heirs of Marston need to trust the one being that they should never trust to make it through and save their people. What they find there will challenge everything they believe about themselves and all that came before them.
Honey and Spice: A Novel by Bolu Babalola
Set in an African-Carribbean university student community, two strong-minded students embark on a fake relationship to salvage their reputations.
A Restless Truth by Freya Marske
Second in a trilogy (after A Marvellous Light) this is a magical murder mystery and lesbian romance romp. Fake mediums, real ghosts, and a foul mouthed parrot complicate matters as Maude and Violet attempt to find and stop a murderer on a transatlantic voyage.
Into the Riverlands by Nghi Vo
The third novella featuring historian Cleric Shih and the talking bird Almost Brilliant follows our protagonists exploring the lawless Riverlands and finding themselves in the middle of a legendary feud. While these can be read as standalones, The Empress of Salt and Fortune and When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain are fabulous fast reads as well.
When the Angels Left the Old Country by Sacha Lamb
The angel and the demon have been studying together for centuries in a tiny shtetl in Eastern Europe. When one of their villagers goes missing on her way to America the two decide to find her. Along the way they brave challenges and find people to help as well as realizing that they are on a journey to find themselves as well.
The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen
Mercy is an undertaker and Hart is a marshall patrolling the wastelands for zombies. This is the backdrop for an unexpectedly sweet romance between two lonely people who might have more in common than they think.
A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall
Viola Caroll used the fact that she was presumed dead at Waterloo to be reborn as her true self. But years later, when she realizes how her "death" has affected her best friend, she is drawn once again into his orbit - this time as someone he never could have expected.
The Golden Enclaves: A Novel by Naomi Novik
In a world where sending children to a magical school is the best of terrible choices, no one expected Elle to get out alive. Now that she's made it it's up to her and her friends to save the entire magical world. This is the final book in the Scholomance trilogy and you need to read all three in order (A Deadly Education, The Last Graduate).
An Island Wedding: A Novel by Jenny Colgan
Jenny Colgan continues her Mure Island series with Flora finally getting the wedding of her dreams, until the Island's prodigal daughter returns and usurps the spotlight. Another series that should be read in order (A Very Distant Shore, The Cafe by the Sea, An Island Christmas, Christmas at the Island Hotel)
Someday, Maybe: A Novel by Onyi Nwabineli
Eve's loving and happy husband killed himself on New Year's Eve and she was the one to find him. This book follows Eve's journey in and through loss and grief. Heartbreakingly sad but also witty and beautiful.
Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez
A big-city ER doctor has a fling with a carpenter both 10 years her junior and her complete opposite. Can Alexis and Daniel make their two worlds come together or are they just too different?
The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes: A Novel by Cat Sebastian
A companion book (taking place at the same time) to The Queer Principles of Kitt Webb. Reluctant criminal Marian and cheerful villain Rob team up on an epic road trip through Georgian England. This is an amazingly gleeful romp, but it's probably best to read the first book first.
You can see all of my favorites from past years, as well as many other Staff Picks and recommendations from other librarians, through our curated lists in our Library Community!
I'll see you back here at the end of 2023 with all the books that make me happy throughout the upcoming year!