In this post, I’ve gathered together the best new books for young women to read in 2023 for unputdownable, memorable, and often award-winning stories. Some are popular bestsellers, others are under-the-radar hidden gems.
Choose these as your beach reads and vacation books this summer, pack them for weekend trips, or grab a few to enjoy at home or on your commute. Enjoy escaping into a whole new world – I hope you find a few new favourites along the way.
The best books for young women to read in 2023
Tom Lake by Ann Patchett
Read this for a hazy evocation of slow, dreamy sunny days under cherry trees while the wonderfully self-assured narrator (who reminded me of Elizabeth Strout’s Lucy Barton) describes to her three daughters her time as an actress in her twenties.
I’ve loved escaping into this peaceful book that, in the novel’s present, offers a totally different perspective of Spring 2020 than anything else I’ve read.
Patchett creates a world that’s hopeful, cozy, and reassuring, painting a masterful picture of motherhood, family, and the moments that make us.
Did You Hear About Kitty Karr? by Crystal Smith Paul
This stunning debut by Crystal Smith Paul for 2023 is brimming with glamour, mystery, and the allure of showbiz as one of the best books for young women to read this summer.
When Kitty Karr Tate, an icon of the silver screen, passes away and leaves her multimillion-dollar estate to the St. John sisters, three young, wealthy Black women, it prompts questions. A lot of questions.
The Bird Hotel by Joyce Maynard
If you like the sound of a sweeping story that spans four decades, penned with beautiful touches of magical realism, I’d wholeheartedly recommend The Bird Hotel.
This new novel for 2023 is the story of Irene, a talented artist who, after a heartbreaking childhood, finds herself in a small Central American village checking into a beautiful but decaying lakefront hotel at the base of a volcano.
With years of restoration ahead, the hotel, called La Llorona, will become Irene’s home and livelihood, as well as the setting for so much joy and companionship.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Following a 16-year-old girl through unimaginable events that hit far too close to home during the Black Lives Matter movement, this bestseller by Angie Thomas will give you all of the emotions.
But above all, Thomas brings warmth, love, and truth to tragedy with her cast of memorable characters, each on a journey of their own.
American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin
While sitting in one of my favourite bookshops on the outskirts of Copenhagen this week, I was sipping tea, browsing books, and half-listening to conversations between the staff and customers.
Everyone seemed to want to know about this non-fiction book (that had sold out, unfortunately for the bookshop). American Prometheus isn’t a new book (it was first published in 2006), but it’s the book behind Oppenheimer, the less pink movie that everyone’s talking about.
In this gripping non-fiction book that reads like a thriller, the authors reveal the story of a brilliant, complex, and flawed man: physicist and polymath J. Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb.
The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
Published in 2022, The Marriage Portrait is one of the best historical fiction books to read this year – and honestly, one of the best books I’ve read recently in any genre. It’s a fascinating story about a strong woman in a confined world, set in Florence in the 1550s.
Right from the start of the book, we know that less than a year after fifteen-year-old Lucrezia de’ Medici marries Alfonso II d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, her life will be over.
Although the official cause was ‘putrid fever’, rumours suggested something very different: that her husband was to blame.
Darling by India Knight
I recently discovered this gem of a book and fell utterly, hopelessly in love with it. Darling is India Knight’s modern-day retelling of Nancy Mitford’s classic The Pursuit of Love. It’s a delightfully charming, funny, and witty comfort read.
Teenage Linda Radlett feels herself destined for greater things – and a love story that she absolutely won’t find in her family’s sprawling farmhouse in Norfolk.
When she moves to London to become a model, Linda achieves a fresh start: but life is unromantic, dark, and complicated.
But one day, feeling at her lowest, she spontaneously boards the Eurostar train to Paris where love and transformation await. The novel isn’t without its tragedy (there’s one page you might want to rip out), but overall, I adored it.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
If you follow the world of books, you’ve probably seen the cover of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow everywhere since last year. And personally, I think the hype is 100% worth it.
This gripping bestseller weaves the story of two nerdy kids who meet in a hospital, bond over video games, and years later start their own game company. This brings them money and fame, but also tragedy.
For more like this Goodreads Fiction Book of the Year 2022, here are 10 books to read next if you loved Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow.
Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See
A compelling story about medicine and women in 15th-century China, Lady Tan’s Circle of Women is the new historical novel from Lisa See, the bestselling author of The Island of Sea Women.
According to Confucius, “an educated woman is a worthless woman.” But in this gorgeous book (that I loved listening to as an audiobook), Tan Yunxian is raised by her grandmother, one of only a handful of female doctors in China.
In her early years, Yunxian unlocks more freedom and knowledge than she thought possible, but when she’s sent into an arranged marriage, she finds herself isolated, powerless, and forced to act like a proper wife.
This captivating book about community, knowledge, and Chinese medicine asks: how might a woman like Yunxian break free of these traditions and treat women and girls from every level of society?
The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther
If you’re looking for a light summer read, pick up The Summer of Broken Rules for a romance novel inspired by Taylor Swift songs.
In this book that’s perfect for fans of Emily Henry, Meredith Fox is finally rebuilding her life after she lost her sister, Claire, eighteen months ago.
Since then, she’s shut everyone out, but this summer she’s ready to join the world again – and the annual family vacation to Martha’s Vineyard seems like the perfect place for it.
With the traditional Fox family game of assassin, Meredith is determined to honour Claire’s legacy. But when she forms an assassin alliance with a cute groomsman, she’s more than a little distracted.
For more of the best books for young women to read now, you might also like these collections…
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