BookClub logo

How I met my reading goals for 2023 (plus: every book I read and my 10 favorite books of the year)

I read 81 books in 2023 and hope to read even more in 2024!

By Cheryl WrayPublished about a month ago 8 min read
How I met my reading goals for 2023 (plus: every book I read and my 10 favorite books of the year)
Photo by Matias North on Unsplash

Reading became so much more important to me during the pandemic.

I've always been a voracious reader. As a child, I read nonstop (and have the worn-thin copies of Judy Blume and Nancy Drew books to prove it) and I continued my love for reading through high school, college, and adulthood.

The last few years, though, pushed me to read more than ever before--and to keep track of my reading.

I read 83 books in 2021, after setting a goal of 60 for the year. In 2022, I "slumped" a little bit and read 76. (I'm always careful to not judge my success on what I did the year before; setting goals for something that is supposed to be enjoyable is always tricky, and it can be quickly become a task instead of a lovely activity.) I got back on track, and am already tackling 2024.

Note: I keep track of my reading on Goodreads, but there are other excellent apps to do so. And you can keep track the old-fashioned way--by writing them all down in a notebook.

Here's a list of every book I read last year in 2023:

Shatter Me by Taherah Mafi / Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney / The Villa by Rachel Hawkins / We are the Light by Matthew Quick / Circle of Venegance by Ramona Richards / Porch Music by Kathy Maresca / Are you There God, It's me Margaret by Judy Blume (reread) / If You Could see the Sun by Ann Liang / This Pen for Hire by Laura Levine / Denton's Little Death Date by Lance Rubin / Kindred by Octavia Butler / Storyteller by Dave Grohl / The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory / Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin / Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds / Seven Days in June by Tia Williams / Lavender House by Lev Rosen / Below Zero by Ali Hazelwood / Songteller by Dolly Parton / The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun / All My Knotted-up Life by Beth Moore / The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes / Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng / Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree / The Housemaid by Frieda McFadden / All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir / Educated by Tara Westover / Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn / The Appeal, by Janice Hallett / At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracey Chevalier / Happy Place by Emily Henry / It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne / Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid / Home Before Dark by Riley Sager / Dead Man's Folly by Agatha Christie / The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz / Ban this Book by Alan Gratz / Funny you Should Ask by Elissa Sussman / If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson / Know my Name by Chanel Miller / Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid / Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson / Writing Magic by Gail Levine / The House of Eve by Sadequa Johnson / Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon / Lock Every Door by Riley Sager / 4:50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie / Devil's Delight by M.C. Beaton / Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yaros / The Agathas by Kathleen Glasgow / Yellowface by R.F. Kuang / Take me With you When you Go by David Levithan / The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna / Brewed Awakening by Cleo Coyle / Weyward by Emilia Hart / Benath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire / The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey / The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James / A Little Bit of Spectacular by Gin Phillips / This is How you Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone / Dash and Lilly's Book of Dares by David Levithan / Things we Never Got Over by Lucy Score / Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid /If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio / The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson / The Greatest Gift by Phillip Stern / The Christmas Orphan's Club by Becca Freeman / First and Then by Emma Mills / Silent Night by Mary Higgins Clark / The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Expaury (reread) / I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston / The Adventure Begins by Gillian Rogerson / The Walls Came Tumbling Down by Babs Deal / Ten Poems to Change your Life by Roger Housden / The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill / A Winter in New York by Josie Silver

Whew, that's a lot of books. (Thanks for sticking around through that.)

As you can tell by perusing my list, I read a very wide variety of selections. Everything from mysteries and thrillers to young adult to romance to science fiction (brand new to me) to classics (although not as many as I'd like). I also tried to diversify my reading and include books with characters and settings from a variety of places, cultures, religions, genders, and communities. Books ultimately should both entertain and inform us; I want my mind to be stretched by the words I read.

Every time I look at my list from this past year, my idea of "favorites" change. Who likes to pick favorites, anyway? (I have three daughters; none of them are my favorites. I love them equally for different reasons. Although my two oldest would argue strongly that the baby in the family gets preferential treatment. But that's a different story.)

On New Year's Day, as I looked at my list, I had a visceral reaction to the books and came up with a list of my ten favorites. A little over three months later, I've thought about them some more and adjusted my list a bit. (It took a while for me to post this list, because I've mostly been working and reading...I'm off to a really good start for 2024.)

The important thing? I didn't hate any of them and, I'd recommend any of the books above from my full 2023 list above. And, my advice always is: read anything you like! Like graphic novels? read them. Like dense historical nonfiction? read it. Like romance? read it.

You do you.

Read whatever you want to read.

That being said, my favorites from last year were:

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin: A quirky love and life-growth story about two friends who met while working in the video gaming business. (I don't play video games, and yet I loved it.)

The Storyteller, by Dave Grohl: Even if you're not a Nirvana fan, do yourself a favor and pick up this stellar memoir. Even better, listen to it on audiobook.

Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds: A book from a few years back that I just discovered, but is worth going into the backlist to find. A powerhouse book in verse about how a teenager grieves the loss of his brother to gun violence (all taking place on an elevator ride down a building).

All My Knotted-Up Life, by Beth Moore: Another memoir (and I don't even really read many of them), this is an eye-opening story of Christian leader Moore and her battle to be heard as a woman in religion.

Legends & Lattes, by Travis Baldree: Fantasy is not my genre of choice, and yet I fell in love with this "cozy fantasy" about an orc who's done with her battle days and is opening up a coffee shop. It sounds weird; it is, and lovely.

All My Rage, by Sabaa Tahir: If I had to choose, this would be my top pick of all my reads from 2023. This young adult novel tells the story of teenagers Salahudin and Noor, while also telling the backstory of Salahudin's family in Pakistan. Salahudin is trying to save his family's motel after his grandmother's death (while also dealing with his father's alcoholism), while Noor is running from her own demons and abuse at home. Simply amazing.

Home Before Dark, by Riley Sager: This book may not be prize-winning like All My Rage, but boy is it entertaining. A haunted house story that's really more of a thriller, this one had me up at night with my eyes and ears open. Riley Sager's thrillers are new favorites of mine.

Weyward, by Emilia Hart: This one battled with All My Rage for my favorite book of the year, and it's simply wonderful. The story of generations of witches, Weyward is really about the power of women and the magic they hold inside them. I'm not always a fan of books told from different time periods, but this one works big-time.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson: How did I never read this book as a child or middle grader? This short book, about the unruly Herdman children, will tug at your heartstrings and make you laugh out loud (very loudly).

The Walls Came Tumbling Down, by Babs Deal: I randomly happened upon this book on Amazon, and couldn't resist it because it's setting is a fictional version of the University of Alabama (my alma mater). A thriller written in 1968, it tells of what happens among sorority sisters from decades earlier after a baby's skeleton is found inside the sorority house's walls.

There were many other books from this past year that I wholeheartedly recommend; and just a few that I'd say to steer away from. But, again, ANY reading is good reading; in the words of Nike, just do it.

If you want to increase your reading over the next year, there are some simple things you can do.

My quick advice is to:

* Set a goal, but don't be upset if you don't meet it.

* Don't read something just because it's trendy or you think you "have to" read it. Read what you want.

* Carve out time in your schedule just for reading.

* Make reading friends. Start a book club. Talk about books with other people.

* Carry a book with you wherever you go.

* Visit a bookstore and/or library often. You won't be able to keep from reading.

Here's to a fantastic 2024 of reading. (I already highly recommend the phenomenal Greek retelling Circe by Madeline Miller, the super-fun thriller In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead, the spot-on young adult romance Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan, and a reread that was just as good this time around The Awakening by Kate Chopin. And I anticipate more to come.)

Want to join me on Goodreads? I'd love to see what you're reading and recommending. Friend me ("Cheryl Wray")!

Want to read a more detailed article on how to fit more reading into your life? Read my article on this topic here on Vocal.

RecommendationReading ListBook of the Year

About the Creator

Cheryl Wray

I'm a trained journalist who now dreams of writing fiction.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.