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My Five Favorite Novels Read in 2023 (In No Particular Order)




As 2023 comes to a close and the new year is still beginning, it’s a great time to reflect on your favorite books of the year, so that you can find more books like that for the year to come. This list is just from a handful of books that I read in 2023.  Looking at this list, I’ll probably be reading more legal thrillers in the near future.


The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah


The Nightingale is a powerful story of two heroic sisters during France’s Nazi occupation who defy the invaders in their own way. But be warned, this historical novel is an incredibly moving and tragic. The trials and tribulations of Vianna and Isabelle will have you on the edge of your seat, and as far as endings go—it will not disappoint. Be sure to read this novel to the end, it will be worth it. Kristin Hannah is a master.


The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly


This is the first book of the Mickey Haller series where we meet a loveable but flawed protagonist who pays the price for taking the case of the wealthy real-estate agent, Louis Roulet. Complications arise quickly, and Haller becomes vulnerable to the sinister machinations of Roulet. Luckily, Haller knows people in low places that can help, but will it be enough? Read to find out! A great beginning to a fantastic series! (I’m currently on the fourth in the Mickey Haller series.)


The Shining by Stephen King


A masterfully written tale of insanity and isolation. Recovering alcoholic, Jack Torrence takes the job of caretaker at the Overlook Hotel in the treacherous and isolated Colorado mountains, and becomes a danger to his wife and child. This is not just a horror novel, but a psychological one as well.  King masterfully puts us in the mind of Jack Torrence as he slowly loses his mind.  And the fact that the Overlook is haunted doesn’t help either. Luckily, his son Danny has psychic powers, but will they be enough?  This is Stephen King at finest. The Shining is a gripping and suspenseful novel of the supernatural that you’ll find difficult to put down.


The Firm by John Grisham


If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Mitch McDeere learns that lesson the hard way. The Firm is John Grisham’s first blockbuster hit. In it, we meet Mitch McDeere who is about to graduate third in his class from Harvard Law. The law firm of Bandini, Lambert, & Locke entice him and his wife with a virtually interest-free mortgage, the use of a BMW, and the prospect of becoming a millionaire by the time he’s forty. What could possibly go wrong? Quite a bit, actually. Many say that this isn’t Grisham’s finest book, but I had a great time reading this fast-paced novel, and you will too!


Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters


Last but not least: Beautiful Ruins. Beautiful Ruins is a love story. Sort of. Walters’ novel spans Italy in the 1960s to Hollywood in 2010s, and introduces a panoply of quirky characters. From vulgar fishermen to unscrupulous Hollywood producers, Beautiful Ruins gives us a healthy portion of humor, pop culture, slapstick, and food for thought. The following excerpt is one my favorite pieces of prose that I’ve come across in 2023:


"And the robot loves his master, alien loves his saucer, Superman loves Lois, Lex, and Lana, Luke loves Leia (till he finds out she’s his sister), and the exorcist loves the demon even as he leaps out the window with it, in full soulful embrace, as Leo loves Kate and they both love the sinking ship, and the shark—God, the shark loves to eat, which is what the mafioso loves, too—eating and money and Paulie and omertà—the way the cowboy loves his horse, loves the corseted girl behind the piano bar, and sometimes loves the other cowboy, as the vampire loves night and neck, and the zombie—don’t even start with the zombie, sentimental fool; has anyone ever been more lovesick than a zombie, that pale, dull metaphor for love, all animal craving and lurching, outstretched arms, his very existence a sonnet about how much he wants those brains? This, too, is a love story."


Those are my top reads of 2023 as far as novels go. What are yours? Leave a comment, or email me at joe@poconolibrary.org to tell me yours. You can also email me if you want recommendations, or want to recommend any books to me.

 

 


 

 

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