2023 Wrap Up

Welcome to my second ever annual wrap up– the 2023 wrap up! I’ll be breaking down the stats, favorites, and least favorites of my reading year in 2023. I hope you find some good recommendations, because I had a TON of 5 star reads in 2023!  

I read 64 books in 2022, and my goal for the year was 50. The second half of my senior year combined with a pretty chill first semester of college made for a lot of books read. In 2023 I also discovered an *illegal* epub website where I could download practically any book I wanted into my Apple Books app and read on my phone. Now that I can read on my phone, I read whenever and wherever I have time– during breakfast, before my lectures start, waiting for the bus, etc. This really helped me finish books faster.

Just like in 2022, I recorded my reading in both Goodreads and Storygraph. Storygraph released a 2023 wrap-up at the end of the year, which was fun to see.

My top 5 genres: Romance, Fantasy, Contemporary, Young Adult, and Historical. Not surprising, for the most part- my favorite genres are YA, fantasy, and romance. The only reason Historical was one of my top genres in 2023 was because apparently Storygraph counts historical romance as just historical and is inaccurate with classifying some fantasy books as historical as well. 

Number of rereads: 2. I’m so proud of this number, because I have to physically restrain myself from rereading my favorite books. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? But cutting down on rereads really helped me get through my TBR list, so now it’s not too huge and intimidating. I found so many new 5 star reads! I hope to keep this habit up in 2024. Disclaimer: I don’t count rereads in my best/worst books of the year because that wouldn’t be fair. 

My 2023 Ratings: 5 books with no ratings (my AP Lit books), two 2 stars, eleven 3 stars, twenty-four 4 stars, twenty-two 5 stars. I feel like this year I’ve gotten really good at knowing myself and choosing books I know I’ll love. I’ve never had so many 4 and 5 star reads before! My average rating in 2023 was 4.12 stars, which is my highest yet. 

Number of DNFs: 1. The Plight Before Christmas by Kate Stewart. The only characters that I liked in this book were the babies and little kids. The adults acted immature and annoying, and lots of the dialogue was stilted and cringey. I powered through 80% of the book before I just couldn’t go on.

These authors were all new to me, and I loved their books!

Ava Reid- I read A Study in Drowning by Reid very recently, and I love the way she crafts gothic fantasy! Her settings are rich, expansive, and dark. Her characters are relatable and lovable. She writes so well, and I can’t wait to read her other gothic fantasies!

Rebecca Ross- I’m sure this author is a new favorite for many others. She has written Divine Rivals, a book that I thoroughly adored. Her writing is impeccable and her romances are filled with so much angst, tension, and yearning. I’m going to read Ruthless Vows very soon and might start on her backlist. 

Jessica Joyce- I always love finding new romance authors! Jessica Joyce is extremely new, with only one full-length novel released and another one coming this summer. You, with a View was the perfect road trip romance with plenty of poignant discussions on family, grief, and careers as well. I’m looking forward to reading her upcoming second-chance romance.

I define a “disappointing” read as one that I had thought would definitely be a 5 star read but was just mediocre. The honorable mentions: A Curse for True Love, Do I Know you?, and The Atlas Paradox. However, the single most disappointing read I had this year (brace yourselves for the most unpopular of opinions) was Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. I don’t want to yuck half the world’s yum but I truly do not understand what people see in this book. The characters, who were young adults, spoke like freshmen in high school– extremely juvenile and immature. I really disliked the writing. It was plain and unpolished at best and cringey at worst. Where was the editing for this book? The plot was a direct ripoff of Divergent, so the book was unoriginal in that manner. The romance was rushed. The premise was so promising but the writing and characters annoyed me. Good for you if you liked this, though! (I’m jealous)

I only had two 2 star reads in 2023, so I’m counting those as my worst reads of the year. 

Number 2 goes to The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake. I’m always down for a pretentious dark academia story with morally gray characters, but this was just too pretentious. I hated all the pages and pages of psychoanalysis and internal monologues. There was an attempt made for dimensional characters, but they became convoluted and confusing. There was barely a plot. Worst of all,  NONE of the romantic pairings that I wanted to happen ever came into fruition. I would best describe this book as convoluted to the core. 

And, for the second year in a row, my worst book of the year is written by Lynn Painter. I tried to give her a second chance with her adult novel, Mr. Wrong Number. Wrong idea. The writing style was so irritating and cheesy. The adult characters all acted ten years younger than their actual age. The main character was literally the ultimate clumsy, quirky, not like other girls girl. The romance was terrible as well, as the love interest spent ¾ of the book questioning why he even liked the girl (which we both had in common). I am finally done with this author. 

I had so many 5 star reads this past year that it was so hard to choose my favorite books of 2023, so I’m going to be listing my top 5.  The first 4 are in no particular order, but the last one is my favorite book of the year. 

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: I chose to read this for my AP Lit class, but I knew I would love it. This book was so emotional and character driven. The author writes about friendship and family in the most heart-wrenching way. It’s one of the saddest books I’ve ever read but ends on a bright note. I cried a million times. I would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross: A unique take on the fantasy genre, this book was deeply romantic and emotional. I enjoyed the setting/late 1800s time period that the story was inspired by. The old-timey-ness of the trains, typewriters, and newspapers juxtaposed well to a magical war between the gods. The rivals to lovers romance had me in a chokehold, it was so well written and beautiful.

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas: Chaol is my favorite character in Throne of Glass, so of course I would die for this book. In my opinion it’s one of the best character studies I’ve ever read. Chaol grappling with his disability as well as his guilt, anger, and self-hatred was heartbreaking but worth it in the end when he comes to terms with all of it. Yrene is another character who I adored getting to know, and her and Chaol’s slow burn hate-to-love romance was impeccably written. Seeing Chaol finally satisfied and truly happy with himself was lowkey emotional for me. 

Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood: I loved this book because of how relatable the main character was, and how her love interest is able to completely see through her “pathological people pleaser” tendencies and help her become comfortable with her true self. The two were so well matched, and their romance was so achingly sweet and adorable.

Drum roll, please… The best book I read in 2023 was Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo. This masterpiece is a new favorite of all time for me. Although I found Ninth House to be quite slow-moving, I not-so-patiently waited 3 years for the sequel because I knew this series had great potential– and I was right. Hell Bent was dark academia at its best with a truly imaginative setting of Yale and its secret societies. It was so intelligently written, with cleverly planned plot twists and a huge cast of untrustworthy side characters. Its rich combination of Yale history, religion, and fantasy culminated in a delightfully twisted story about a descent into Hell. Though the plot was fantastic, there was no lack of good character building. The found family was so special to me, and we got a deep dive into each of the characters’ backstories and motivations. This book served up intense emotions alongside a high stakes adventure.

All these books are releasing in 2024, and I am looking forward to diving into them!

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