• The Ultimate Best Books of 2023 List

    Reading All the Lists So You Don’t Have To Since 2017

    The end of the year is approaching, the universe is expanding, and the internet is updating—right now, it is mostly updating its Best Of lists. Therefore, per Literary Hub tradition, I will now present to you the Ultimate List, otherwise known as the List of Lists—in which I read all the Best Of lists and count which books are recommended most.

    This year, I sorted through 62 lists from 48 publications, which yielded a total of 1,132 books. (I can only say: yikes.) 94 of those books made it onto 5 or more lists, and I have collated these for you here, in descending order of frequency.


    20 lists:
    James McBride, The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store

    19 lists:
    Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Chain-Gang All-Stars
    David Grann, The Wager
    Zadie Smith, The Fraud

    16 lists:
    Jonathan Eig, King: A Life

    15 lists:
    Eleanor Catton, Birnam Wood
    R.F. Kuang, Yellowface
    Rebecca Makkai, I Have Some Questions For You
    Ann Patchett, Tom Lake
    Safiya Sinclair, How to Say Babylon
    Jesmyn Ward, Let Us Descend

    14 lists:
    Mariana Enriquez, tr. Megan McDowell, Our Share of Night
    Paul Murray, The Bee Sting

    13 lists:
    S.A. Cosby, All the Sinners Bleed
    Naomi Klein, Doppelganger: A Trip Into the Mirror World
    Catherine Lacey, Biography of X

    12 lists:
    Claire Dederer, Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma
    Deepti Kapoor, Age of Vice
    Victor LaValle, Lone Women

    11 lists:
    Emma Cline, The Guest
    Daniel Mason, North Woods
    Justin Torres, Blackouts
    Abraham Verghese, The Covenant of Water
    Colson Whitehead, Crook Manifesto

    10 lists:
    Matthew Desmond, Poverty, By America
    Lauren Groff, The Vaster Wilds
    Kelly Link, White Cat, Black Dog: Stories
    Jonathan Rosen, The Best Minds: A Story of Friendship, Madness, and the Tragedy of Good Intentions
    C Pam Zhang, Land of Milk and Honey

    9 lists:
    Darrin Bell, The Talk
    Timothy Egan, A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan’s Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them
    Alice McDermott, Absolution
    Ann Napolitano, Hello Beautiful
    John Valliant, Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World

    8 lists:
    Jen Beagin, Big Swiss
    Jamel Brinkley, Witness
    Nicole Chung, A Living Remedy: A Memoir
    Anne Enright, The Wren, The Wren
    Jenny Erpenbeck, tr. Michael Hofmann, Kairos
    Tania James, Loot
    Jessica Knoll, Bright Young Women
    Hilary Leichter, Terrace Story
    Christina Sharpe, Ordinary Notes
    Maggie Smith, You Could Make This Place Beautiful
    Héctor Tobar, Our Migrant Souls: A Meditation on Race and the Meanings and Myths of “Latino”
    Ilyon Woo, Master Slave Husband Wife: An Epic Journey from Slavery to Freedom

    7 lists:
    Daniel Clowes, Monica
    Michael Finkel, The Art Thief: A True Story of Love, Crime, and a Dangerous Obsession
    Homer, tr. Emily Wilson, The Iliad
    Benjamin Labatut, The MANIAC
    Dennis Lehane, Small Mercies
    Elliot Page, Pageboy: A Memoir

    6 lists:
    Sebastian Barry, Old God’s Time
    Gary J. Bass, Judgment at Tokyo: World War II on Trial and the Making of Modern Asia
    Ned Blackhawk, The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History
    Tania Branigan, Red Memory: The Afterlives of China’s Cultural Revolution
    Tananarive Due, The Reformatory
    Teju Cole, Tremor
    Tessa Hadley, After the Funeral and Other Stories
    Isabella Hammad, Enter Ghost
    Rachel Heng, The Great Reclamation
    Tahir Hamut Izgil, Waiting to Be Arrested at Night: A Uyghur Poet’s Memoir of China’s Genocide
    Angie Kim, Happiness Falls
    Deborah Levy, August Blue
    Yiyun Li, Wednesday’s Child: Stories
    Lorrie Moore, I Am Homeless If This is Not My Home
    Donovan X. Ramsey, When Crack Was King: A People’s History of a Misunderstood Era
    Britney Spears, The Woman in Me
    Barbra Streisand, My Name is Barbra
    Alice Winn, In Memoriam
    Yepoka Yeebo, Anansi’s Gold: The Man Who Looted the West, Outfoxed Washington, and Swindled the World

    5 lists:
    Naomi Alderman, The Future
    Anne Berest, tr. Tina Kover, The Postcard
    Cat Bohannon, Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution
    Tom Crewe, The New Life
    Patricia Engel, The Faraway World
    Patricia Evangelista, Some People Need Killing: A Memoir of Murder in My Country
    Anna Funder, Wifedom: Mrs. Orwell’s Invisible Life
    Cristina Rivera Garza, Liliana’s Invincible Summer: A Sister’s Search for Justice
    Paul Harding, This Other Eden
    Mick Herron, The Secret Hours
    Nathan Hill, Wellness
    Lydia Kiesling, Mobility
    Jhumpa Lahiri, tr. Jhumpa Lahiri and Todd Portnowitz, Roman Stories
    Andrew Leland, The Country of the Blind: A Memoir at the End of Sight
    Ayana Mathis, The Unsettled
    Marie NDiaye, tr. Jordan Stump, Vengeance Is Mine
    Mark O’Connell, A Thread of Violence: A Story of Truth, Invention, and Murder
    Caroline O’Donoghue, The Rachel Incident
    Ed Park, Same Bed Different Dreams
    Salman Rushdie, Victory City
    Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki, Roaming
    Brandon Taylor, The Late Americans
    Paul Yoon, The Hive and the Honey

    List of Lists Surveyed:

    The New Yorker’s The Best Books of 2023 (The Essentials)The New York Times’s 100 Notable Books of 2023 and 10 Best Books of 2023TIME’s The 100 Must-Read Books of 2023The Atlantic’s The Books That Made Us Think the Most This YearPublishers Weekly’s Best Books 2023The Wall Street Journal’s The 10 Best Books of 2023 • The Los Angeles Times’s 13 Best Novels (And 2 Best Short Story Collections) of 2023 • The Washington Post‘s 50 Notable Works of Fiction and 50 Notable Works of Nonfiction and 10 Best Books of 2023 • Vulture’s The Best Books of 2023 • Slate’s The 10 Best Books of 2023 (Laura Miller) and The 10 Best Books of 2023 (Dan Kois) • Electric Literature’s Best Novels of 2023, Best Nonfiction of 2023, and Best Short Story Collections of 2023 • The Economist’s Best Books of 2023Vanity Fair’s 20 Favorite Books of 2023 • Esquire’s The 20 Best Books of 2023 • Oprah Daily’s The Best Books of 2023 • Den of Geek’s Best Books of 2023 • Amazon’s Top 20 Books of the Year • Book Riot’s Best Books of 2023 • Chicago Tribune’s 10 Best Books for 2023 • Inside Hook’s The 10 Best Books of 2023The Guardian’s Best Books of 2023 • Powell’s Books’ Best Books of 2023: Fiction and Best Books of 2023: Nonfiction • Real Simple’s 60 Best Books of 2023 • Good Housekeeping’s The Must-Read Books of 2023 • AIR MAIL’s 12 Best Books of 2023 • The New York Public Library’s Best Books for Adults 2023 • The Boston Globe’s 55 Books We Loved in 2023 • Book Soup’s Best Books of 2023 • The Chicago Review of Books’ Best Books We Read in 2023 • The California Review of Books’ 10 Best Books of 2023The Globe and Mail’s The Globe 100: The Best Books of 2023 • Tattered Cover’s Books of the Year 2023ELLE’s Editors Share the Books They Loved Best in 2023 • The New Statesman’s 20 Best Books of 2023 • Harper’s Bazaar’s The 45 Best New Books of 2023 You Won’t Put Down • The Chicago Public Library’s Favorite Books of 2023 and Top 10 Books of 2023 • BookPage’s Best Fiction of 2023 and Best Nonfiction of 2023 and Best Mystery & Suspense of 2023 and Best Romance of 2023 and Best SFF & Horror of 2023 and 10 Best Books of 2023 • Shelf Awareness’s Best Adult Books of 2023 • Kirkus Reviews’ Best Fiction Books of the Year and Best Nonfiction Books of the Year • Library Journal’s Best Books 2023 • The Telegraph’s 50 Best Books of 2023 • The Conversation’s Best Books of 2023 • The New York Post’s Best Books of 2023PEOPLE’s Top 10 Books of 2023Foreign Affairs’ The Best of Books 2023Town & Country’s The Best Books of 2023The Independent’s 25 Best Books of the Year • and of course, Literary Hub’s The 38 Best Books We Read in 2023.

    Emily Temple
    Emily Temple
    Emily Temple is the managing editor at Lit Hub. Her first novel, The Lightness, was published by William Morrow/HarperCollins in June 2020. You can buy it here.

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