A Literary Journey of the Books I read in 2023
As the pages turned and the plots thickened, I delved into a literary adventure that transcended genres. Join me as I rewind the clock and navigate through the stories that became my companions in 2023. If you follow along on my Instagram, I shared every book I read... I didn't give much information on my thoughts on them, but now I'll go through them in a somewhat organized way. From gripping non-fiction to heartwarming tales to some I probably shouldn't have finished, it's time to spill the tea on the books I read.
★ indicates my favs of the year ★
Wild by Cheryl Strayed -★ This was the first book I read of 2023 and it truly led my year! We had spent so much time outside last year hiking and exploring (while not as intense as the author had on her adventure), but it certainly had a profound influence on my life outdoors and as a woman. This was probably my favorite non-fiction book of the year (and no, I haven't watched the movie).
Church of the Wild: How Nature Invites Us Into the Sacred by Victoria Lore - A little thing about me... I'm not religious, I actually don't claim one. Over time, my therapist acknowledged that I rarely talked about spirituality and I would shy away from it. She encouraged me to look into my spiritual side and doing that through nature because it was the thing I seemed to relate to most, so if you are on any kind of soul journey or interested in your spiritual side via nature no matter if align with a religion or not, I recommend this book.
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson - This one, while a bit outdated in some of the things the author says... was quite a good and funny read, especially if you enjoyed Wild! My morning walking buddy recommended this one to me. I also just saw that this one was made into a movie and I'll have to check it out as well.
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed - I decided to read another by Cheryl Strayed because I loved Wild so much. It was good, if you enjoy reading about other people's real lives, it's a nice read.
Somebody's Daughter: A Memoir by Ashley C. Ford - I enjoyed this one. If, like me, you enjoy learning about other people, it is a good read.
Forest Therapy: Seasonal Ways to Embrace Nature for a Happier You by Sarah Ivens - Meh, it wasn't too much about the forest. Go outside, enjoy the sun, find ways to get outside any time of season, do seasonal things, motherhood, etc. Not what I was hoping for out of a book, could've been narrowed down to a nice magazine article, but I'm not a published author, so who am I to judge.
How To Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals by Sy Montgomery - I really enjoyed this. Getting back to my nature and spirituality vibes along with my love of animals, this was a fun and meaningful memoir.
Make Art Where You Are (Guided Sketchbook): A Travel Sketchbook and Guide by Courtney Cerruti - This is a short guide that comes with a sketch journal. I really got into watercolors and sketching in 2023. I found a hobby that I absolutely adore and helps ground me. This little book was a great aid.
The In-Between: Unforgettable Encounters During Life's Final Moments by Hadley Vlahos -★ This book was part of my spiritual journey. I think, in another life, if I could be a nurse (and handle all that hard work nurse stuff that I just can't fathom in this life), I would be a hospice nurse. The journey of life is such a gift and Hadley shares the stories of people in such a sweet way.
How To Speak Flower: A Kid's Guide to Buds, Blooms, and Blossoms by Molly Williams - This was such a cute guidebook and introductory to flowers. I love gardening and plants, so this was a fun book I found at the library for my oldest and I to read, I ended up loving it. The artwork is really cute.
Outdoor Kids in an Inside World: Getting Your Family Out of the House and Radically Engaged with Nature by Steven Rinella - And the longest title award goes to... I was intrigued with this title because we were adventuring a lot more outside last year, so I was hoping for some fun ideas, but this was more for the person who is super rugged... like stay in an Alaskan fishing hut on the ice with no electric or bathroom... he tries to bring it back to how the suburban parent can do other things, but it wasn't relatable for me, but others who are rugged, it's probably a better book for.
Fiction (short and long series)
Astrid Parker Doesn't Fail by Ashley Herring Blake -★This is the second of a series I started the previous year. I really enjoy the author's writing. Yes, it's a romcom and a LGBTQ+ book, yes I enjoy both of those genres. No, my husband doesn't care that I expand my reading horizons and read books by all different mindsets and humans. All are welcome with me and I encourage everyone to look beyond who they are when they read and delve into a fun new world of authors, ESPECIALLY in this world where book banning is legit happening and SHOULD NOT BE!
A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury, A Court of Wings and Ruin - Sarah J. Maas - Okay, I don't know how many button I will be pushing with this one, but... I think I hate this series. The world building in the first book was great, it lined up as everything my fantasy loving heart could want, BUT I am not into reading a story about an 18- 20 year old girl who seems like she should be a woman of at least 27. I also just wasn't into it... my apologies to my ACOTAR friends... I did read through a couple of them to give it a fair chance!
Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly - Another cutesy happily ever after (HEA), it was enjoyable, but I did have to look it up online to remind me about it, lol.
Thrawn by Timothy Zahn - Another Star Wars book, this is part one of a series. I find the writing super boring, but it was a fun read about one of the best villains that Star Wars has! It helps if you didn't watch Rebels and want to watch Ahsoka (sorry, is my nerd showing?)
Summer on the River by Marcia Willett - I remember liking this one. Sweet English countryside book I believe, I also believe it is part of a short series and I think I'll look into reading the other ones, so I remember enjoying it, but it didn't stand out, lol.
Off the Map, The Suite Spot, Float Plan by Trish Dollar -★I read these completely out of order because I had no idea they were a series, but I adored these books. I loved the locations, the characters, and the writing. Happily ever after feel goods, I'll be looking for more books by this author!
Well Traveled, Well Matched by Jen DeLuca - Another series I didn't know was a series and read out of order, but didn't finish because they aren't great. I wasn't in love with these, but what I did love and the reason I kept reading them was because they take place at the Renaissance Festival. My nerd showing again? It was a totally different concept to have books take place at the Reno Faire and I'm here for it!
The Lost Witch by Paige Crutcher - I thought I would really enjoy this one when I read the excerpt... I did not like it and was so bummed I didn't.
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner - I enjoyed this one... at least I enjoyed one book about something "Lost". :)
Weyward by Emilia Hart - ★ I REALLY enjoyed this book! It is a first publishing for Hart and she is a beautiful writer! If you enjoy books that span over time periods, this one I recommend!
Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston - Well, we are huge into Star Wars in this house and Ahsoka has been my favorite character since Clone Wars came out years ago, so this book was a must going into the new Disney+ series this past year. If you're a Star Wars fan, highly recommend.
The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller - Another that I really wanted to like, but I hated the ending. I do like things tied up a bit more and I just couldn't stand the main character (other people messaged me the same thing). A dislikable main character isn't necessarily means to not enjoy a book, but I just thought she was not a nice person, lol. I did enjoy how it was written and I would give this author another try.
The Idea of Love by Patti Callahan Henry - Could have been way better. I had to push myself through this one.
Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune - I enjoyed this book a lot, there were moments where I wanted the characters to just be freaking honest with each other already, but I feel like that about all books... and then I realized if they did that, the story would be a short story and not a novel.
A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler -★ Oh, I really liked this book. It's a heartbreaker, but if you live in Charlotte or any up and coming neighborhood in North Carolina, you will completely see this book clearly in your head. It takes place in North Carolina and boy oh boy, it hit home!
Just As You Are by Camille Kellogg - This was a quick read. I didn't see myself in any characters at all, so it was a fun getaway to reading other experiences. I don't remember the book too well, so a simple read that made me happy in the moment is how I remember it.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus -★ I ADORED this book!!! I really liked the show too. I know some people don't like the changes the show made, but I was so happy with them because it was like getting to experience the book again, but in a new way that I got to enjoy all over again. I think this is a must read!
The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston -★ I really liked this book and how the author writes. It was a fun concept and I'm a sucker for a ghost story!
That Summer Feeling by Bridget Morrissey - I liked this one, summer camp for adults sounds like something I could use in my life. I enjoyed the friendships gained in this story.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig - Another favorite for the year. Clever, deep, and well written!
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt - ★ I REALLY loved this one. The story is sweet. I love the surprise narration by one of the characters, this one is one I'd recommend reading! So smart... or bright? Sorry, I'll put that lameness in my pocket for later.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid - Yes, this author is well known and very good, lol. I did enjoy this book. Not one of my favorites, but it is very good!
The Lifeguards by Amanda Eyre Ward - The beginning of the book and the plot, along with the writing was so good, until it wasn't! The ending was such a bummer and the way it was wrapped up.. meh.
Cassandra in Reverse by Holly Smale - This was an interesting one... kind of a groundhog's day aspect... which repetition sometimes makes me a little bonkers, so admittedly I did take little breaks with this book, but I do like the lessons learned.
Every Summer After by Carley Fortune - Another of Fortune's books that I enjoyed (I also love the cover art on her books, yes, feel free to judge a book by its cover because those artists deserve it). I enjoy her writing and I look forward to more books by her.
Mrs. Nash's Ashes by Sarah Adler - This one is a fun one! I will be reading more work by Adler!
The Jetsetter's by Amanda Eyre Ward - I tried one of Ward's books again despite hating the ending of the other one of hers I read... It started strong again, great idea, hated it again... wahhh. I hate judging a book, but endings are so important... to me at least. I need follow through, even if it's not a happy one.