Top 10 Books of 2023

A curated selection to suit all bookish preferences.

Top 10 Books of 2023

In the literary landscape of 2023, we've curated a top 10 list that embraces a spectrum of genres. Whether you seek the adrenaline of horror, the escapism of fantasy, the visual allure of graphic novels, the relatable tales of contemporary life, the echoes of historical eras, or the raw truths of non-fiction, this list has something for every reader.

Last Summer on State Street by Toya Wolfe 

Toya Wolfe's debut novel, Last Summer on State Street, is a poignant chronicle of girlhood and community in the backdrop of Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes. Following three girls from different backgrounds, Wolfe fearlessly explores the gritty reality of the 1999 Chicago housing projects. The author's firsthand experience of growing up here adds authenticity to the narrative, providing a realistic portrayal of the harsh realities within the story. Told through a child’s perspective, Wolfe illustrates how children are forced to prematurely mature in challenging circumstances. Despite the tough subject matter, the lyrical writing and heartwarming characters create a relatable and powerful narrative. 

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What Women Want by Maxine Mei-Fung Chung

In What Women Want, Maxine Mei-Fung Chung, a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, delves into female desire through the compelling stories of seven patients. Drawing from fifteen years of clinical experience, Chung challenges societal norms, from conventional expectations surrounding female desire to embracing single motherhood. The novel skillfully blends storytelling with emotional depth, transporting readers into therapy sessions. Chung's accessible explanations of psychological theories invite reflection on our personal lives. What Women Want is a captivating exploration of female experiences, encouraging self-ownership. Chung's narrative depth and insightful approach make this nonfiction work an engaging and enlightening read.

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Dust Child by Nguyễn Phan Quế Ma

Dust Child by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai is a compelling novel that skillfully illuminates the hidden scars and shared pain of those entangled in the horrors of the Việt Nam War. Set between 1969 and the present day, the narrative unfolds through multiple perspectives, revealing the enduring effects of war on both the directly involved soldiers and indirectly involved ordinary citizens. Through well-developed characters, the novel sheds light on the lesser-known aspect of Amerasian children, providing a moving and thought-provoking exploration of the atrocities of war and the way in which the effects of war prevail. Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai's storytelling resonates long after the final page is turned. 

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Babel by R.F Kuang

Babel by R.F. Kuang, a mesmerising blend of fantasy and historical fiction, explores an alternate Victorian Oxford University where language and translation hold magical power. Kuang, an Oxford graduate with expertise in linguistics, weaves a brilliant dark academia tale that delves into the captivating world of etymology. The ingenious magic system, rooted in the nuances of word pairs' translations, reflects the dance of colliding languages. Beyond magic, the novel powerfully delves into colonialism, following protagonist Robin's complex journey amid resistance and decolonization. With its vivid exploration of language, history, and magic, Babel is truly captivating. 

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Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor

In Deepti Kapoor's Age of Vice, a sweeping epic unravels within the opulent yet corrupt world of the Wadia family. Ajay, a loyal servant born into poverty, Sunny, the son of a notorious criminal, and Neda, a conflicted journalist, have their lives intricately woven amid lavish estates and ruthless business practices. Kapoor navigates sensitive issues such as human trafficking and poverty with respect, all the while exposing India’s social complexities that are rooted in greed and corruption. The novel's structure, seamlessly blending multiple perspectives and timelines, maintains suspense while gradually revealing the mystery. This addictive, engrossing read has become a sensation in the crime genre.

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The Girl from the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag

The Girl from the Sea, an exciting YA graphic novel by Molly Knox Ostertag, explores queer identity, family dynamics, and environmentalism. Fifteen-year-old Morgan's desire to escape her confined island home intertwines with her hidden attraction to girls. When mysterious Keltie enters her life, secrets unravel, forcing Morgan to confront her desires. Ostertag's exquisite illustrations blend beauty and vibrancy, reinforcing the novel's environmental message. The portrayal of family dynamics is genuine and heartwarming, depicting the challenges of divorce. Overall, this extraordinary graphic novel seamlessly combines stunning artwork with a thought-provoking narrative. 

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How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz

Angie Cruz's How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water offers an exploration of American societal inequalities, particularly within the Dominican community. Protagonist Cara Romero, facing sudden unemployment in her mid-50s, unravels her life story during job counselling sessions. Cruz's structural ingenuity, framing the narrative through Cara's dialogue with a counsellor, provides an intimate view of her struggles.  This unique approach humanises Cara, breaking stereotypes. Cruz fearlessly exposes the struggles of the neglected, tackling issues of unemployment, medical expenses, and gentrification. How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water stands as a beautifully written novel, shedding light on systemic challenges and demanding change.

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The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by S. A. Chakraborty

In The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi, Shannon Chakraborty crafts an enchanting feminist fantasy novel with spellbinding magic and exhilarating escapades. Amina al-Sirafi, a legendary pirate turned mother, embarks on a final expedition for fame and fortune. Chakraborty skillfully diverges from the ordinary, presenting a middle-aged, sexually empowered woman of colour as a protagonist. Amina's narrative voice, infused with wit, defies societal norms unapologetically. Chakraborty's gift for world-building immerses readers in an odyssey across seas, seamlessly blending historical fiction with the fantastical. The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi promises a spellbinding start to Chakraborty's latest fantasy series.

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Invisible Child by Andrea Elliott

Invisible Child by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Andrea Elliott is a non-fiction journey through the harsh realities of homelessness, poverty, and racism in New York City. Chronicling eight years in Dasani Coates' life, born into a homeless family with eight siblings, the narrative unveils the historical backdrop of Dasani's ancestors. Elliott powerfully illustrates how poverty is criminalised in America, exposing deep-seated inequality. Dasani's resilience, sibling bonds, and the impact of systemic oppression add a compelling human dimension. Invisible Child offers a lens into contemporary America, provoking thought on social issues and emphasising the toll of inequality. 

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How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

How To Sell A Haunted House by Grady Hendrix is a chilling horror novel delving into intergenerational trauma. Louise, facing her parents' death, reluctantly returns to a house filled with her mother's doll obsession. Collaborating with her brother Mark to ready the house for sale, they encounter supernatural disturbances. Hendrix, known for blending horror with humour, skillfully weaves witty dialogue with a chilling, claustrophobic atmosphere. The novel evolves beyond horror, exploring complex family dynamics and childhood traumas. Hendrix's masterful suspense and emotional depth make How To Sell A Haunted House unputdownable.

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