15 of the best books for women to read in 2023

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best books for women 2023

One of my favourite things about reading is being able to step into a different perspective with each new book. We can experience different lives, visit new places, and broaden our understanding of the world.

As I shared in my post about the best books for men, I don’t think there’s such a thing as women-only books or men-only books.

But the books I’ve shared in this post include perspectives on what it’s like to be a woman today, whether that’s finding a place to belong, building a career, navigating friendships, or working out who you really are.

(That said, I’ve also included the best books to help you relax, unwind, and enjoy a well-earned break.)

Read on for my collection of the best books for women to read in 2023, including many of the best new books of 2023. Enjoy browsing, see what grabs your attention, and hopefully find some new favourite books…

The best new books of 2023 for women (and written by women)

The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer

Read The Wishing Game for… a heartwarming read about the families we choose and the power of stories. I think it’s one of the coziest books to read this year.

The Wishing Game is such a good choice for cozy, feel-good reading in 2023. This is the story of Lucy Hart, a lifelong reader who survived her lonely childhood by finding solace in books, namely the Clock Island series by Jack Masterson.

Now a twenty-six-year-old teacher’s aide, Lucy is able to share her love of reading with her students, who she’d give anything to help. When she gets a chance to win the only copy of her favourite author’s new book, it seems like her life – and her students’ – might be about to change.

The Bird Hotel by Joyce Maynard

Read The Bird Hotel for… a sweeping story of healing, community, and self-discovery that spans four decades, penned with beautiful touches of magical realism.

If you ask me, The Bird Hotel is one of the best books for women to read in 2023. This excellent new novel is the story of Irene, a talented artist who, after unimaginable heartbreak, finds herself in a small Central American village checking into a beautiful but decaying lakefront hotel at the base of a volcano.

With time and a huge amount of restoration, the hotel, called La Llorona, will become Irene’s home and livelihood, as well as the setting for so much joy and companionship. Here’s my 4.5* review of the book.

Maame by Jessica George

Read Maame for… an uplifting yet moving novel on the joy and guilt of stepping aside from your responsibilities and finding your own way in life.

At home in London, Maddie is the primary caretaker for her father, who suffers from advanced-stage Parkinson’s. At work, her boss is a nightmare and Maddie is tired of always being the only Black person in every meeting.

Maame is the story of Maddie’s late blooming: whether that’s pushing for recognition in her career, saying yes to after-work drinks, or throwing herself into the world of internet dating.

As one of the best new books for women this year, it’s a heartwarming (and sometimes heartbreaking) look at self-realization, female friendship, and belonging.

Homecoming by Kate Morton

Read Homecoming for… Kate Morton’s new historical fiction novel for 2023, about a shocking event in South Australia in 1959 and repercussions that echo across continents and generations.

I’m convinced that picking up a book by Kate Morton is a guarantee of a good read – and this long, immersive book is perfect to escape into over quiet weekends and lazy evenings.

Struggling to make ends meet, Jess is a journalist in London searching for a good story. When she rushes to Australia after her beloved grandmother falls sick, Jess discovers a long-buried secret that would make the perfect story – until she realises how she’s implicated.

Despite having never visiting Australia before, I felt like I was there while reading this book, taking in the golden wattle flowers and flowering Christmas bush in December.

The Five-Star Weekend by Elin Hilderbrand

Read The Five-Star Weekend for… a captivating, sunshine-filled story about friendship, love, and self-discovery from the bestselling author of The Hotel Nantucket.

This new beach read for 2023 is a delight. It’s the story of Hollis Shaw, who seems to have a picture-perfect life: she’s the creator of a popular food blog and married to Matthew, a dreamy heart surgeon.

Although the book is brimming with summer vibes, it begins with loss, exposing the cracks in Hollis’s marriage and relationship with her daughter, Caroline.

When Hollis hears about something called a “Five-Star Weekend”, she decides to host her own to get her life back on track, bringing together four friends from different stages in her life. It’s a spa weekend in a book, really.

Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age by Katherine May

Read Enchantment for… a spellbindingly beautiful look at how we can awaken our wonder and marvel at the world when we’re anxious.

From Katherine May, the bestselling author of Wintering, comes this gorgeous new non-fiction book for 2023. Enchantment is full of gentle inspiration for when you feel exhausted, directionless, or out of tune with the world’s wonder and awe, offering a balm for the soul from someone who’s been there.

It’s not quite as much of a must-read as Wintering, but still a lovely read to help you reflect and rebalance. (The audiobook is also a great choice for a few hours of soothing listening.)

A Storm of Infinite Beauty by Julianne MacLean

Read A Storm of Infinite Beauty for… one of the best women’s fiction books of 2023. With a blend of romance and historical fiction, I’d describe this as Taylor Jenkins Reid meets Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead.

Last year, I fell in love with MacLean’s 2021 novel These Tangled Vines, a multi-generational love story set in dreamy Tuscany. While A Storm of Infinite Beauty isn’t quite as light and breezy, it’s fantastic in other ways.

You’ll uncover a multigenerational plot, an emotional love story, buried secrets in the past, and wild and powerful nature in Alaska. I loved the flashbacks, the slow uncovering of the past, and the down-to-earth side of our main character, a beloved Hollywood icon.

We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman

Read We All Want Impossible Things for… an emotional yet uplifting and beautifully wise book about the life-changing power of friendship.

Although Catherine Newman’s bestseller from November 2022 is about heartbreak, it’s ultimately about the joy of friendship – in particular, the forty-two-year bond between Edi and Ash.

Their friendship has weathered marriages, heartbreak, infertility, and children. But now the unthinkable has happened, and Edi is facing a late-stage diagnosis with only one outcome.

As she spends her last days at a hospice, the best friends reminisce, hold on, and try to let go, all with unflinching compassion, riotous humour, and timeless wisdom.

Happy Place by Emily Henry

Read Happy Place for… bestselling beach read author Emily Henry’s new book for 2023, painting a picture of summer vibes in Maine and a relationship that isn’t quite what it seems.

If you want a lighthearted romance beach read, pick up Emily Henry’s Happy Place. This is one of the best romance books for 2023, about a seemingly perfect couple who broke up months ago but pretend to still be together for their annual vacation with their best friends. Choose this for refreshing summer vibes, easygoing writing, and the joy of escaping into a book that’s never too serious.

Strong Female Character by Fern Brady

Read Strong Female Character for… a top-rated memoir of womanhood and neurodiversity from Scottish comedian Fern Brady.

Like Fern Brady, I’m autistic, but Strong Female Character is one of the best books for anyone to read in 2023. It’s fiercely witty, heartbreaking, and oh-so-required.

This is the comedian’s memoir of finally being diagnosed with autism, years after telling her doctor that she had it, ending up at a psychiatric facility when neither her parents nor school knew what to do with her, and never becoming the “right kind” of woman.

Why Women Grow by Alice Vincent

Read Why Women Grow for… a stunning non-fiction story of soil, sisterhood, and survival from the author of Rootbound.

I love books that hover between the genres of nature, memoir, and self-growth. Published in March 2023, Why Women Grow is a much-needed exploration of why women turn to the earth as gardeners, growers, and custodians.

The Illustrated Woman by Helen Mort

Read The Illustrated Woman for… a remarkably raw and honest poetry collection that celebrates the beauty and resilience of women’s bodies.

I’m so happy to have discovered Helen Mort’s writing this year. I first fell in love with her memoir of motherhood and mountains, A Line Above the Sky, but here wanted to share her 2022 poetry collection, The Illustrated Woman.

Amidst the landscapes of the Peak District and the glaciers of Greenland – and with her trademark infusion of wild adventure – The Illustrated Woman is a stunning anthology about what it means to live in a woman’s body.

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

Read Nora Goes Off Script for… warmth, wit, fresh starts, and a love story that doesn’t shy away from life’s emotional baggage.

In one of the best romance books for women to read this year, Annabel Monaghan tells the story of Nora, a romance screenwriter who’s well-versed in the formula for love. But when her husband leaves her and their two kids, Nora turns her marriage’s collapse into cash and writes the best script of her life.

Endpapers by Jennifer Savran Kelly

Read Endpapers for… an evocative debut about gender, authenticity, and the hard conversations we owe ourselves in pursuit of a world where no one has to hide.

This quiet, slice-of-life-ish debut from Jennifer Savran Kelly surprised me. The story of a queer book conservator who finds a mysterious old love letter in a book’s endpapers, Dawn Levit works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, repairing old books instead of creating her own art.

Not only is Endpapers a sharply written book that celebrates art, creativity, and self-expression, but it also explores the difficulty of honesty and the consequences of all that’s left unsaid.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

A Psalm for the Wild-Built book

Read A Psalm for the Wild-Built if… you want to escape to a utopian future where tea is the solution for everything and you can just drop everything and wander into the wilderness when life gets too much.

I feel like I recommend Becky Chambers’ writing to everyone, everywhere… so if you’re getting tired of reading this, I apologise. But also, she’s fantastic.

This is the story of Sibling Dex, a non-binary tea monk who makes people’s lives better by travelling around in their bike-powered wagon and creating the perfect cup of tea for every situation.

But something’s missing in Dex’s life, and they don’t start to figure things out until they bump into Mosscap, a robot who’s only now emerging from the wilderness after centuries away from humans.

For more about Becky Chambers and her delightful gifts to the world (and favourite tea), I loved this feature by Wired.

So, there you go: my recommendations for the best books for women in 2023. Enjoy! Let me know what you think, and I always love to hear your recommendations too.

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