Top Ten Books Read in 2023

2023 was a happy year for me as I ended it out with 90 books read–which is the most I’ve ever accomplished since college. (That one college year where I somehow managed to read 150+ books is probably going to keep the gold for a long time!)

Most years I find myself reading an eclectic blend of fiction, while gravitating to a theme in many of the nonfiction books I read. This year with my nonfiction reads, I continued the journey I began last year of contemplating suffering. But I actually had a fiction theme too, as I worked my way through a number of dark academia novels as research for the novel I’m currently trying to publish. While only one of those made this list, there would be several others in the #11-20 spots. But without any further ado, here are my 10 favorite books I read for the first time this past year (book titles linked to my longer Goodreads reviews).

  1. Curious Tides by Pascelle Lascelle

This was a very fun read–and the most vibey of any of my dark academia reads this year. An absolutely delightful romp with a splendid sense of atmosphere that also featured a protagonist who genuinely learned from her mistakes.

  1. The Naked Truth about Chastity by Lauren Winner

This was a rather thought-provoking read that provides Christians with a helpful lens through which to appreciate and value the traditional value of chastity. Given how many books in the past have tackled this subject with rather unhelpful “purity culture” lenses, Winner’s work was a refreshing corrective.

  1. The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass

I don’t generally put writing craft books on this list since that’s too much “shop talk” for me. But this was a really excellent work that I’d highly recommend to any other writers reading this list. I also got the chance to meet Maass this past summer, and appreciated his insightful remarks.

  1. Prodigal God by Tim Keller

This was one of those books that I read at just the right time in my life for Keller’s admonitions and exhortations to really resonate with me. As one tempted to be the proverbial “older brother,” there’s a lot to be gleaned from Keller’s meditations on the parable of the prodigal son.

  1. The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

Most short story collections I read are a mixed bag–some great stories, some fine ones, and some I just don’t connect with. This was the rare collection where every story was a winner. I adored Liu’s imaginative science fiction that transported me to a variety of fascinating worlds.

  1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I finally began to explore the Grishaverse this year, and this first foray was certainly a winner. Bardugo’s unabashed honesty in the characters she portrayed (whether they be sympathetic or not) won me over to this complex story that ages like a good wine.

  1. The Toxic War on Masculinity by Nancy Pearcey

The title of this book is a bit unfortunate as it suggests this is a culture war piece, when it’s actually a thoughtful historical examination of how views of masculinity and femininity have shifted over the years–and how we need to bridge the divide between “good men” and “real men.” One of the best I’ve read on the topic.

  1. Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

While I originally had mixed feelings about the book, it’s ended up being one of the most influential books I’ve read this year, with really tangible applications in my life. Very much worth reading, though I take it with a grain of salt in some places.

  1. Lightbringer by Pierce Brown

I worked my way through the entire Red Rising series (to date) this year, and man did it end on a high note with this book. This may very well have toppled Ender’s Game this year to be my favorite sci-fi series ever due to its thought-provoking themes and earnest heroism. Highly recommended to anyone open to nobledark sci-fi.

  1. Job: The Wisdom of the Cross by Christopher Ash

This book brought me to tears multiple times. Ash’s commentary is not only brilliant. It also is a beautiful blend of biblical and literary commentary. And more importantly, it’s thoroughly human and pastoral. It speaks to the heart as well as the mind. Ash helps you grieve with Job as he loses everything he held close. He helps you feel frustration with his inept counselors. Awe at the presence of God. And joy at Job’s restoration. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

Fantasy Meets Superheroes

Enter the world of Morshan, where Medieval superheroes face nail-biting choices.

Some overcome and some, like the rich young ruler, waver.

Which ones will rise to become true heroes?

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