At LoveReading we read a LOT of books. Day in, day out, week in, week out, all year round, it's our job, no it's our honour to curate a list of highly recommended reads for you. For the avid readers out there, and for the individuals who don't class themselves as a regular reader yet.
Out of the thousands of books we read every year, these are the cream of the crop, the best of the rest, a collection of books that have really stood out from the crowd for us.
If you are only going to buy a few books this year, pick from this list as they are all stars! If you're looking for a little special something for a Christmas stocking near you, scroll to your heart's desire below.
2023 has been our first full year of being an online bookstore, and we are absolutely loving it. And so are our thousands of customers and happy schools who partner with us to get free books. So now shouting about books is even more important than ever. You get to gift extra with us; every time you buy a book, you are making a difference.
We continue to be by your side, selecting a steady stream of book recommendations to sate the most voracious reader. We select, read and review to bring you curated, highly recommended titles across format and across the genres so that you can find the perfect next read for you.
As we read, our Star Books selection grows and this list becomes our Books of the Year. So now we are here, in November of 2023, to again share with you the books that have been the stars this year. The twinkliest and brightest of all of the books we've consumed.
If you love humorous fiction, then look no further than Monica Heisey's Really Good, Actually, a simply fabulous howling banshee of a novel that whips into thoughts inducing snorts of laughter, many a raised eyebrow, and also waves of empathy. Smart, bold, and absolutely blimmin wonderful, it's out now in paperback so grab your copy! Hotel 21 is another fabulously funny read: this beautiful, funny page-turner explores life-affirming friendship through a kleptomaniac hotel cleaner whose sense of self-preservation has seen her cut off connections to other people.
If you love full-on pump-action reading entertainment in the form of a spy thriller then step this way to Zero Kill by M.K. Hill. Also, as fascinating as it is entertaining, we have to shout about Robert Peston's The Crash which is an absolutely cracking thriller sitting in the 2007 financial crisis, it’s punchy, provocative, and readable as heck according to our Liz Robinson.
Looking for your next Modern and Contemporary Fiction read? Radiant with superb characterisation, pertinent issues around sexist double standards and political corruption, themes of identity, and a brilliant evocation of Trinidad’s Port of Spain, we relished Breanne Mc Ivor’s The God of Good Looks from start to finish.
If speculative fiction is your genre of choice, there have been plenty to pick from this year. Some of our absolute faves include Carole Hailey’s The Silence Project which is a sizzling, thought-provoking tour de force. How can we not mention The Seventh Son by Sebastian Faulks which was described by Joanne Owen: "arguably Faulks’ finest novel to date (which is really saying something), this is one of the most profoundly human and emotionally engaging works of speculative fiction you could hope to read. It explores what it means to be human through a thought-provoking, pacey story of genetic manipulation, and the sacrifice of individuals in the name of science."
We love diving into a book consumed with family drama here at LoveReading. Eva Verde's In Bloom is a vibrantly colourful and eloquently told contemporary tale detailing the resilience and strength of three women; grandmother, mother, and daughter.
If you adore a love story, then we have two here that are totally different but absolutely compelling all the same. The Applicant by Nazli Koca is wry and raw as it shares the gripping story of a twenty-something Turkish writer who’s living on borrowed visa time in Berlin. Hope, the longing to belong, the plight of migrants and love make this book a stunner. Emily Henry is up there with the best romantic comedy authors Happy Place is a true escapist romcom from those of you who love to read characters you can't help but fall for and adore off-the-charts chemistry.
Crime? Big Fan? There are absolutely tons that we loved this year.
The Pit by Peter Papathanasiou: a bloody brilliant page-turner, with a radiant ending that’ll leave your soul basking in a bittersweet glow, it paints a vivid picture of Australia across five decades with the deft touch and profound power of a master artist.
Mick Herron of Slough House fame does it again with his most masterly of pens. The Secret Hours is to be savoured and to be delighted in as it transports you into the murky world of the secret service. Highly recommended.
Historical crime? You will find absolutely top notch historical crime fiction set in York during the 1660’s as Royalist supporters hunt down Cromwellian traitors in S.G. MacLean's The Winter List.
If you like feminist-minded fiction, then Weyward by Emilia Hart is an absolute must. It's a beautifully powerful debut novel celebrating the strength and resilience of three women in three different time-frames as witchcraft weaves its way through their lives.
If you like to dabble in a bit of erotic fiction, then take a look at the audacious and mesmerising, Cursed Bread by Sophie Mackintosh. An intoxicating read, set in a small town in France, that loses itself in the layered labyrinth of one woman’s mind during the 1950’s. It's a darkly gleaming tale of a town gripped by hysteria, envy like poison in the blood, and desire that burns and consumes.
For a YA read: inspired by the Great Japan Earthquake of 2011, and Japanese folklore about a giant catfish that lives under Japan and causes the ground to shake when it rolls, Clara Kumagai’s Catfish Rolling is a remarkable debut. Interlaced with Japanese myth and magic realist wonder, it explores trauma, grief, identity, science and nature, with unique concepts and characters that linger like the shadows of the liminal spaces of this beautiful book. The storytelling is sublime and the whole package is a joy to behold, right to every gold-edged page.
If you want a hug in a book we give a heartfelt round of applause as Jenny Colgan has once again written a beautifully compelling and rewarding relationship story in The Summer Skies.
Now let's talk Catriona Ward a second. Fast becoming one of our most anticipated authors as she has this incredible ability to take you on the most beautiful writing journey, where somehow you completely trust her but not your own thoughts as you read. Looking Glass Sound is no different. As usual it is hard to pigeon-hole the genre here, it’s an enigmatic mix of gothic psychological thriller/horror, but then again, it’s also something else entirely. Liz Robinson loved it just a little bit: "A gossamer web of deception and subterfuge spins through the pages, each new revelation creating further strands that send out reaching tendrils of turmoil...it’s complex, provocative, intimate, and absolutely wonderful."
If you have been stuck under a rock you might have missed Yellowface by Rebecca F. Kuang this year? Love books about writers and the world of publishing? Love smart fiction that unlocks contemporary culture with fresh eyes? If so, you need to read it right now.
Fantasy your obsession? Well it's no surprise then that Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros features on this list. You'll be hooked from the first page, so do swoop into this all-consuming fantasy read and hold on as the characters face two options: graduate or die.
On the non-fiction side, we highly recommend Decolonising My Body by Afua Hirsch. Illuminating and liberating as it blends scholarship, reportage and personal experience, this trailblazing work charts the author’s year-long analysis of body politics, with no colonial or patriarchal stone left unturned.
Sea Bean by Sally Huband is an eloquent and special book about a beachcomber’s search for a sea bean is a profoundly moving insight into the author and our natural world.
Take time out to explore Atlas of Imagined Cities: this beautifully informative atlas featuring the imaginary locations from fiction, games, and films, set within 14 world cities."
So keep scrolling to explore our favourite reads of the year, we're certain you'll love these books as much as we do, and if you haven't already, dive in and enjoy!
Don't forget you can buy them, at the click of a button, from our online store, with 10% off RRPs and make a difference to schools across the UK. If there's a book here that you'd love to see in your own Christmas stocking, add it to your wishlist by clicking the heart on the book jacket and share your wishlist with your family and friends.
Did your favourite book of the year make our list? Which ones do you think deserve to be on here? So many to choose from, but we hope you enjoy our faves.