Like you, I love to read. Some books I thoroughly enjoy in the moment, then quickly forget. Others I nearly set down, again and again, but push through—only to discover I’m still thinking about them days, weeks, months later.
Some books won’t let me walk away unchanged.
What causes a book to stay in our hearts and minds, long after we’ve finished reading it? What makes a book continue to influence our thoughts, ideas, and dreams?
Below, you’ll find a list of the most memorable books I read in 2023.
The Most Memorable Books I Read in 2023
While waiting for Barbara Kingsolver’s newest release to become available at my library, I reached for an older Kingsolver novel I hadn’t read yet. (And for the record, I enjoyed Flight Behavior much more than the new release—which you might notice I’m not even naming here. Wink.)
I almost stopped reading Shelley Read’s novel several times. While the writing is stunningly beautiful, the subject matter is intense, and sensitive readers should tread cautiously. But I’m still thinking about the story—often—so it definitely deserves to be on this list.
Ahh. Ann Napolitano’s stunning family drama. I loved this story so much I looked up earlier novels and discovered Dear Edward, which also makes the list of most memorable. (Caveat: Do not read Dear Edward just before or while traveling by air!)
This novella by Richard Hughes is based on a true story about a merchant steamship caught up in a hurricane for four days in 1929.
Parts of Bonnie Garmus’s new release may be difficult for sensitive readers, but I will not soon forget the main character, Elizabeth Zott.
Jodi Picoult’s novel is an emotional story about family relationships and where lines of morality can be drawn.
Filled with delightful characters, light-hearted mystery, and fun romance, my friend Holly Varni’s new release is the first in a promising new series. Listen to Holly read the story aloud on her podcast, Moments from Moonberry Lake.
Leif Enger’s lyrical novel about the Land family in 1960s North Dakota continues to stay with me.
I enjoyed Shelby Van Pelt’s novel so much I offered it as a choice in my current interactive serialized fiction experience. Readers liked it, too, and determined Amelia would read the novel in Part 4 of The Wren Island Series.
Erin Bartels’s captivating story is a beautiful exploration of how we define friendships—and how they define us.
Colleen Oakley’s fantastic story of an unlikely friendship between a restless young woman and an underestimated older woman.
While waiting for Ann Patchett’s extraordinary new release to become available at my library, I read Taft, Patchett’s 1994 novel, which also deserves a place on this list.
I read this lovely coming-of-age story by Ursula K. Le Guin in one sitting—poolside, while on vacation. Memorable? Definitely.
This entirely captivating novel with difficult, thought-provoking themes might be my favorite yet by Karen Joy Fowler.
Amanda Dykes’s moving story includes mystery, romance, and the gorgeous setting of coastal Maine.
Home & Life
David Bayles’s thought-provoking little book explores many ways creative people experience and can overcome fear.
Margareta Magnusson offers a compassionate and no-nonsense approach to simplifying life at any stage.
Joshua Becker’s book helps readers identify priorities and align daily routines to achieve goals and dreams. Also memorable by Becker, The More of Less, which helps readers sort through physical and mental clutter to live life more purposefully.
The themes in this classic by Philip Yancey continue to stay with me, and I’m glad I reread this book.
Memoir & Biography
This memoir by author Louis L’Amour was life-changing the first time I read it, years ago. I’m glad I reread it in 2023.
Author Ursula K. Le Guin wrote this memoir while in her eighties, and I really enjoyed the perspectives she brings to a myriad of subjects.
William Souder’s biography of naturalist Rachel Carson was educational, thought-provoking, and inspiring.
A compassionately-told story about two young men with the same name, this is a memoir filled with themes I will continue to think about.
This double memoir by Patricia Raybon, a Christian mother, and Alana Raybon, her Muslim daughter, is poignant and memorable.