Best Books I Read in 2023

Every year, I join the reading challenge on Goodreads. More often than not, I don’t reach my goal of reading 100 books, but last year I exceeded it. I credit this to our nighttime reading switching from picture books to chapter books. We are deep into Who Would Win, Magic Tree House, and Junie B. Jones and my former reading teacher heart couldn’t be happier!

This year I really tried to read more fiction books because so much of my reading centers around trauma care, spiritual care, and spiritual abuse to prepare for the work I do as a pastor and spiritual director. I found myself adding fiction to my reading list more often, but still those stories often contain the hope of healing and wholeness. I revisited some of my favorite authors and found some news ones!

Here are my top 5 books I read in 2023:

Demon Copperhead: Barbara Kingsolver has been one of my favorite authors since my graduate school days and she does not disappoint with this powerful story of resilience, heartbreak, and systemic injustice. Truly she transports you into the world of Demon and all that he has to overcome in order to find his place in the world.

Full Catastrophe Living: This book might have taken me the longest to read this year and yet it was worth its weight in time! This book is an essential read for anyone who is looking to understand the impact trauma has on our bodies and the way meditation can mindful living can offer peace and restoration to our bodies. I find myself constantly using the techniques in this book as I encounter stress and am glad I read this to understand how to move stress through the body so that it doesn’t get stuck.

My Hygge Home: What a cozy read! I loved A Little Bit of Hygge and so this was a natural next read. Not only are the tips to create a sanctuary in your home useful, the idea that less is more is a good reminder of what is most important in life and how to create a home that reflects that intention.

Our Missing Hearts: I love Celeste Ng for the worlds she creates and the compelling characters she introduces. I knew there was going to be an element of mystery and intrigue, but I didn’t expect the twist the story took. She also calls into question the importance of reading and the impact access to books has on creating deep thinking. Perhaps there’s a little social commentary in this one!

Peace is a Practice: Morgan Harper Nichols is powerful in the way she recounts how she discovered the importance of peace and how quickly peace is stolen from us in the urge to hustle and keep working. Her words coupled with her beautiful artwork creates and experience of being at peace even as you read her reflections on finding peace. This is one that will stay on my bookshelf as a reference and reread.

Ok, most of the books aren’t fictions in the list, but I did include two fiction titles in my best of this year! I’ll count that as process and commit to getting lost in even more stories this year!