#14 TRENDING IN Books & Writing 🔥

I Read Over 35 Books in 2023, Here Are My 5 Favorites

Books & Writing

December 18, 2023

Reading has always been one of my favorite hobbies. There is something mesmerizing about getting lost in a book, whether it's a thriller or a romance. Plus, reading has the power to transport us to different worlds, give us unique perspectives, and help us escape reality for a little while.

In 2023, I set myself a goal of reading over 30 books and I am proud to say that I achieved it. While I enjoyed practically every book I read, some stood out more than others. In this article, I'll be sharing (in no particular order) my five favorite books I read in 2023, so grab a cup of a warm beverage, settle in, and get ready to hear about some of the best Young Adult books I read this year. And don't worry there are no spoilers ahead!

#1 You Will Know Me By Megan Abbott

Page Count: 352

Genres: Mystery, Thriller

If you enjoy mysteries or thrillers, you have to check out You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott. Megan Abbott's murder mystery novel, You Will Know Me, was published on July 26, 2016. The story follows the Knox family as they grapple with the aftermath of a fatal hit-and-run car crash involving a family friend, just before their daughter's big gymnastics competition.

The Knox family is a seemingly perfect family with a teenage daughter who is an up-and-coming star in gymnastics. But as the novel progresses, secrets and lies begin to emerge, and you'll be left guessing until the very end about who is responsible for the tragic events that unfold. The story deals with themes relating to family, sports, ambition, parental sacrifice, and guilt.

You Will Know Me is an incredibly suspenseful and thrilling novel with plenty of plot twists and turns. Megan Abbott's writing is truly captivating and will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire novel. Plus, Abbott is great at crafting characters.

The characters in You Will Know Me are complex and multi-layered, while still being realistic and engaging. Overall, You Will Know Me is an exciting and unpredictable story that you won't want to put down. Kirkus Reviews wrote, "Abbott proves herself a master of fingernails-digging-into-your-palms suspense."

Image Credit: Nitin Arya

#2 We Deserve Monuments By Jas Hammonds

Page Count: 384

Genres: Realistic Fiction

The debut novel of Jas Hammonds, We Deserve Monuments was another great read this year. Buzzfeed described it as being, “An absolute must-read.” We Deserve Monuments is a powerful story of a group of teens living in a small town in the American South. The book focuses on Avery Anderson, a biracial seventeen-year-old, who was uprooted from DC to live in Bardell, Georgia with her family and her terminally ill grandmother, Mama Letty.

The book watches Avery adjust to her new life in the South, and find friendship with Simone Cole, her next-door neighbor, and Jade Oliver, the daughter of the town's most prominent family. As the story progresses, Avery soon begins to notice the undertones of racism all over Bardell. Avery must then decide if she should continue to uncover the secrets of her family's past or accept her new home and leave the truth buried.

We Deserve Monuments is a story of racism, family, identity, and love. By exploring the harsh realities of racism and the power of friendship and familial connections, Hammonds takes you on a journey over Avery's senior year. In general, We Deserve Monuments is a relatable and thought-provoking read that dives deep into family and the human experience.

Image Credit: Gaman Alice

#3 Ever Since By Alena Bruzas

TW: Abuse, Trauma

Page Count: 288

Genres: Realistic Fiction

Apart from having a gorgeous cover Ever Since by Alena Bruzas is an emotional and captivating story and full of vivid imagery. It follows the life of seventeen-year-old Virginia who is known as the kind of girl who makes bad choices. But despite the whispers of gossip, she has a tight group of best friends who support her.

But when she unexpectedly finds herself spending time with her friend's boyfriend, Rumi, Virginia finds herself falling in love with him. As they spend more time together, Virginia discovers that Rumi's sister, Lyra, is being groomed and abused by a prominent member of the community. Virginia is the only one who knows the truth, and she must decide whether to stay silent and let Lyra become a victim, or come forward and risk everything!

While Ever Since tackles some dark themes, such as child abuse, trauma, sexual assault, and neglect, it's an essential read. If you're looking to explore the complexities of these topics, Ever Since is an excellent book to pick up.

Image Credit: Sincerely Media

#4 We Are All So Good At Smiling By Amber McBride

TW: Depression

Page Count: 304

Genres: Magical Realism, Fantasy

We Are All So Good At Smiling by Amber McBride is a truly creative and one-of-a-kind story. This magical realism story is centered on Whimsy, an African-American teen who struggles with clinical depression. While in a hospital for treatment, Whimsy meets a boy named Faerry, who struggles with self-harm.

As she encounters Faerry in other locations, she quickly realizes how they can relate to each other in a lot of ways. Both “have magic in the marrow of their bones.” Also, both characters are scared of the forest at the end of their street, Marsh Creek Lane. But throughout the book, both characters find out the truth about Marsh Creek Lane, and how its secrets and stories can help give them the courage and confidence to face their fears and heal their pasts.

We Are All So Good At Smiling is a beautiful and lyrical story that's written completely in verse. It focuses on themes such as mental health, family/siblings, friendship, fairy tales, and trauma. It also contains plot twists that will engage you until the final page.

Plus, We Are All So Good At Smiling is special in the sense that it references fairy tales from all over the world. Overall, We Are All So Good At Smiling is a creative and inspiring story that will remind you of the power of friendship and hope during dark times.

Image Credit: Pixabay

#5 Chlorine Sky By Mahogany L. Browne

Page Count: 192

Genres: Realistic Fiction, Coming-of-age

Last but not least is Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne. Chlorine Sky is a short, but “bold” and powerful coming-of-age story about an African-American teenager named Sky, who is used to standing in the shadow of her best friend, Lay Li. She says,

Because Lay Li the sun

now I know she just said them lies

to keep my shadow

all up & around her sunshine smile."

When high school starts, Lay Li begins to attract more attention, leaving Sky left out. Sky also doesn't get along well with her older sister---Essa---making her feel even more isolated. The only place Sky really feels comfortable is swimming in the community pool or on the basketball court, where she begins to find her rhythm. Here she discovers that she can shine in her own way.

Chlorine Sky is another novel written in verse and a perfect read if you're looking for a relatable but quick book. New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds states that Chlorine Sky is “a story about heart and backbone, and one only Mahogany L. Browne could bring forth."

Image Credit: Olga Tutunaru

Each book in the list above has its own unique story and style, making all of them worth reading. So whether you're planning to read on a beach vacation, during a snowy day indoors, or in school, there's a book among the five listed above that is perfect for you. Happy reading!

Cove Johnson Rabidoux
20k+ pageviews

Cove Johnson Rabidoux is a writer whose work can be found on Teen Ink, The Teen Magazine, The Spearhead Magazine, the Hot Pot Magazine, Leaders Across the World, and on her blog "Blue Pencil Writing." She serves as an editor for the Trailblazer Literary Magazine, Hot Pot Magazine, Cathartic Youth Magazine, and more. When she is not writing her novel, Cove enjoys reading, traveling, and baking.