20 of the best books of 2023 (& most anticipated upcoming releases)

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Best books of 2023

I spend a lot of time researching and reading new books. It’s how I decide what to recommend here on Tolstoy Therapy (and what not to recommend) and it involves a lot of sifting through new releases to decide what’s actually worth reading.

If you don’t know what to read – or you don’t know which new books are actually worth reading – this post is for you.

I’ve compiled the best books of 2023 so far, and the upcoming releases I’m most looking forward to later in the year.

Read on to top up your TBR list, treat yourself to some preorders, and plan your reading for 2023…

The best books of 2023 so far that are worth reading

Out of Silence, Sound. Out of Nothing, Something: A Writer’s Guide by Susan Griffin (January 17)

“Griffin takes a Zen-like approach to generating, constructing, and honing a piece of writing,” shared Kirkus about Out of Silence.

This gorgeous, meditative guide to writing distills the wisdom that Susan Griffin has honed over more than five decades of teaching and writing.

Amazing Grace Adams by Fran Littlewood (January 19)

Bernadette, Eleanor Oliphant, Rosie, Ove… now meet Grace Adams, forty-five, perimenopausal, stalled, and finally losing it. Amazing Grace Adams is a funny, touching story of an invisible everywoman pushed to the brink.

Twelve Moons: Under a Shared Sky by Caro Giles (January 19)

Bound by circumstance, financial constraints, illness and the challenges of single motherhood, Caro Giles has nowhere to go but the fierce landscape that surrounds her.

Following the lunar calendar over the course of the year, this beautiful new memoir shares Caro’s journey to healing with the moon as her constant companion, through both dark times and joyful ones.

Fieldwork: A Forager’s Memoir by Iliana Regan (January 24)

If you love memoirs rooted in nature, read Fieldwork: Michelin star-winning chef Iliana Regan’s memoir of returning to her rural roots with a move to Michigan’s boreal forest.

Creating dishes foraged from the surrounding forest and river at the newly-opened Milkwood Inn, Iliana shares her experience as she struggles with personal and family legacies while trying to conceive a child.

The Red-Headed Pilgrim by Kevin Maloney (January 24)

The Red-Headed Pilgrim is the tragicomic tale of an anxious, red-headed 42-year-old web developer and his sordid pursuit of enlightenment and pleasure. Read this for misadventure, new beginnings, parenthood, divorce, and wanderlust.

Collected Works by Lydia Sandgren (January 31)

Already a Swedish bestseller spanning over 600 pages, Collected Works is a beautifully complex novel about love, power, and art – and what leads us to make the pivotal decisions that change the course of our lives.

Why Women Grow by Alice Vincent (March 2)

From the author of Rootbound comes this stunning non-fiction story of soil, sisterhood, and survival. Why Women Grow is a much-needed exploration of why women turn to the earth as gardeners, growers, and custodians.

Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton (March 7)

Ten years after Booker Prize-winning The Luminaries comes Birnam Wood, Eleanor Catton’s new gripping psychological thriller focused on a sometimes-criminal, sometimes-philanthropic guerilla gardening group: Birnam Wood.

The Forest: A Fable of America in the 1830s by Alexander Nemerov (March 7)

Set amid the glimmering lakes and disappearing forests of the early United States, The Forest is part truth, part fiction, following painters, poets, enslaved people, farmers, and artisans living and working in a world still made largely of wood.

Thirst for Salt by Madelaine Lucas (March 7)

It’s hard to remember now that I was once that girl, lying in the sand in my red swimsuit and swimming late into the day. Sharkbait, he called me.

A magnetic story of desire and its complexities, Madelaine Lucas’s debut, Thirst for Salt, reveals with stunning, sensual immediacy the way the past can hold us in its thrall, shaping who we are and what we love.

Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock by Jenny Odell (March 7)

In How to Do Nothing, Jenny Odell wrote about the importance of disconnecting. But what if you don’t have time to spend?

As one of the most anticipated non-fiction books for 2023, Saving Time offers a deeply hopeful and forward-thinking look at different ways to experience time than the clock driving modern life.

Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano (March 14)

An exquisite homage to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women by the author of Dear Edward, Hello Beautiful is a poignant and engrossing family story that asks: can love make a broken person whole?

American Mermaid by Julia Langbein (March 21)

Any novel which Madeline Miller calls “brilliantly sharp, funny, and thought-provoking” will catch my interest.

Part Hollywood satire, part magical-realist myth, American Mermaid tells the story of a broke English teacher whose feminist novel becomes a surprise hit, prompting her to move to L.A. to adapt it for the big screen.

The Language of Trees: A Rewilding of Literature and Landscape by Katie Holten (April 4)

Inspired by forests, trees, leaves, roots, and seeds, The Language of Trees is Katie Holten’s stunning invitation to readers to discover an unexpected and imaginative language to better read and write the natural world around us and reclaim our relationship with it.

The Trackers by Charles Frazier (April 11)

Just look at that cover. From the bestselling author of Cold Mountain, The Trackers follows Val Welch, a painter in Depression-era America tasked with creating a mural for the new post office in Dawes, Wyoming.

There, he meets John and Eve Long, a mysterious couple with whom Val quickly becomes enchanted, and – when Eve disappears – hopelessly entangled.

16. You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith (April 11)

Tackling the devastation of a broken marriage and the healing journey of rebuilding her life, Maggie Smith’s upcoming memoir echoes the gorgeous lines from her poem “Good Bones”: “This place could be beautiful / right? You could make this place beautiful.”

Happy Place by Emily Henry (April 25)

Happy Place is Emily Henry’s anticipated beach read for 2023, about a seemingly perfect couple who broke up months ago but pretend to still be together for their annual weeklong vacation with their best friends. If you want easygoing, lighthearted romance, read this.

In the Lives of Puppets by T.J. Klune (April 25)

T.J. Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea is one of the most heartwarming and wholesome books of the last few years.

His new book for 2023, In the Lives of Puppets, wonderfully offers more of the same, inviting you deep into the heart of a peculiar forest and on the extraordinary journey of a family assembled from spare parts.

The most anticipated upcoming books of 2023

The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese (May 2)

The Covenant of Water is one of the most anticipated books for 2023 from one of my all-time favourite authors.

Fourteen years after the release of Cutting for Stone, Verghese’s new novel is an epic multi-generational saga of love, faith, and medicine, set against the historical progress of India from 1900 through to the 1970s.

Small Worlds by Caleb Azumah Nelson (July 18)

From the author of Open Water comes Small Worlds, the story of a young man pressured to follow a certain path – a university degree, moving away from home – who decides to follow his first love, music, despite the consequences.

For more of the best books for 2023, complement this list with the best new thrillers to read in 2023, the best new historical fiction, and the best self-improvement books for 2023.

If you adore books, need a bit of a boost, and would love some gentle comfort and guidance, check out The Sanctuary, a seven-day course from Tolstoy Therapy.