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Check out Kobo’s picks for the best books of 2023

By Kobo • December 03, 2023Kobo Staff Picks

Among the books published in 2023, these are the ones we loved the best.

And because there’s always a lot more to read, we’ll keep updating this list as we work through our towering TBRs to uncover more gems that came out this year.


Crime & Mystery

The Whispers by Ashley Audrain

"This one is a can't-put-down kind of book. The perfect summer read to pick up over a weekend and finish in one sitting."—Deandra

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All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham

"All the Dangerous Things is a twisty psychological thriller, filled with suspicious characters and layered timelines that kept me guessing until the very end. While more of a slow-burn story than the author's first book, the main character's unreliability builds up enough palpable tension that you don't want to put it down."—Chenise

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A Death at the Party by Amy Stuart

“We recently interviewed Amy Stuart on the KWL podcast and this book was so much fun to read! It opens with a woman standing over a man as he dies—you don't know who he is, what happened to him, or why she's not helping—then cuts to that morning and we follow her as she prepares to host her mother's birthday party. The author described it as a thriller retelling of Mrs. Dalloway, which isn't something I thought I needed until reading this book.”—Rachel

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Midnight is the Darkest Hour by Ashley Winstead

“Ashley Winstead writes some of the best thrillers (and amazingly, also fantastic romances). Midnight Is the Darkest Hour is so, so good! —Chenise

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The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff

The Bandit Queens grabbed me from the first chapter, and any time I had to put the book down I was wondering what the fierce women I was reading about were up to. Geeta and the other characters were all so complex and fully formed, they had me laughing with them and rooting for them from the first chapter to the last page.”—Deandra

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Literary Fiction

River Mumma by Zalika Reid-Benta

“This new book (from Kobo Emerging Writer's Prize winner Zalika Reid-Benta!) completely swept me away. It takes place in Toronto while weaving in Jamaican storytelling. There is a fantasy element and it had me on the edge of my seat until I finished it. The writing is absolutely phenomenal and it's definitely one of the best books I've read this year. Add it to your wishlists!”—Deandra

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Yellowface by R. F. Kuang

“R.F Kuang has done it (again). Yellowface is so good I wish I could wipe my memory to read it for the first time. It's such an accurate portrayal of the publishing industry, while also deftly handling tough questions about who gets to tell what stories. A masterpiece!”—Wendy

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My Nemesis by Charmaine Craig

My Nemesis is the perfect mix of interpersonal drama and critical exploration, a page-turning and compelling novel about the limits of the self. Easily one of the most memorable books I've read this year."—Fatma

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Ghost Music by An Yu

“I loved this one. The beautiful cover of this one drew me in! I really enjoyed this character-driven, atmospheric and poetically written novel. It was very compelling and one of the best books I've read this year so far.”—Terrence

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Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson

Pineapple Street is a fun, engaging, and easy-to-sink-into read. Set in Brooklyn Heights, Pineapple Street follows Darley, Georgianna, and Sasha, three of the women who make up the Stockton family, a family of old money who are part of New York's one-percenters, as they navigate family, life, and love. This book is witty, funny, and colourful, making it a great escapist novel for the summer.”—Kristain

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Maame by Jessica George

"I enjoyed this debut so, so much. Maame poignantly portrays the emotional turbulence of finding your way in your twenties. I found it to be a tender, funny, and devastating read. I recommend it to readers who enjoy character-driven contemporary fiction and stories built around the female experience. It's SUCH a joy."—Alanna

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Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld

"This one was a fun, light, romance. A quick and enjoyable springtime read."—Deandra

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Rouge by Mona Awad

“The new Mona Awad is fantastic. I’m a huge fan of hers, so I was bound to like it - but the fairytale elements? The creepy, satirical depiction of the beauty industry? Slay.” —Natasha

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Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune

“I loved Every Summer After and couldn’t wait to read this. It’s similar to Fortune’s debut in all the best ways; it’s emotional, the dynamic between the characters sucks you right in, and the lakeside Muskoka vibes are unmatched.”—Alanna

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In the Upper Country by Kai Thomas

“I think when historical fiction is at its best, it’s exploring the inner lives of people living through events and having them shape their attitudes and beliefs in ways that don’t fit neatly into the conversations we’re having today. The way Kai Thomas positions the poles of good and evil in this book about the Underground Railroad really pushed me to read closely and judge tentatively.”—Nathan

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The Mythmakers by Keziah Weir

“I really enjoyed this one, it’s an interesting and captivating story.” —Kristain

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Happy Place by Emily Henry

“Emily Henry always gives me exactly what I’m looking for in a RomCom and Happy Place was no exception. This was a perfect, fun summer read. The TENSION between Harriet and Wyn had me flying through pages.” —Alanna

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Speculative Fiction

Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

"Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries is an enthralling, transportive tale of faeries and folklore. It manages to be cozy - think drinking tea under a blanket cozy - while also being just the right side of dark and unsettling. And if you're anything like me, that's the dream combo for a compelling read."—Natasha

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Godkiller by Hannah Kaner

“This is a more fantasy-focused title and I loved it.” —Terrence

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Chlorine by Jade Song

"I absolutely loved Chlorine. It has some body horror in it, so beware of that, but it's beautiful and haunting and cruel and so, so good." —May

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The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

"I loved Garth Nix's The Left-Handed Booksellers of London, which is an urban fantasy set in the 1980s. It's a treat for book nerds, 80s punk fashion nerds, and those who like their fantasy with a side of new-age-y mythology."—Jen

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Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

“If you loved the 00’s dystopian YA fantasy trend and have been waiting for a book to fulfill that missing need, Fourth Wing is for you! It’s more new adult/adult than YA, has dragons, magic powers, and a college that sees more students meet a terrible end than graduate.”—Elyse

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The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi

"The Last Tale of the Flower Bride was enthralling, magical, and completely transported me to a haunting fantasy world."—Harleigh

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Boys in the Valley by Philip Fracassi

"Every so often I like a creepy horror novel like when I read Stephen King in my teens. I’m halfway through this book and *scream* — the description of “The Exorcist meets Lord of the Flies by way of Midnight Mass” is 100% accurate should that be your cup of tea!" —Jacques

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A Study in Drowning by Ava Reid

“Autumn is the time for gothics and fantasy in my opinion, and this book delivers both.”—Terrence

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A Queen of Thieves & Chaos by K. A. Tucker

“I’ve devoured this whole series and I can’t believe more people aren’t talking about it! Great world-building and characters with a romance on top of that. Plus it’s a KWL book! Highly recommend for anyone who loves fantasy.” —Laura

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Biography, memoir, and other true stories

Love, Pamela by Pamela Anderson

“I don't usually read a celebrity memoir but Pam is a Canadian icon and, for better or for worse, was the image of sexuality and idealized womanhood for my generation growing up. For all her complexities, we stan. I love this book. It was beautifully written in a lyrical, confident way, with nods to eclectic and unexpected influences. I hope she writes more essays because her appreciation for art, culture, sex, activism and the environment is really exciting. Bonus points for her having a Jungian analyst and being into dream interpretation!”—Courtney

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The Woman in Me by Britney Spears

“As a kid, I used to dress up like Britney Spears and 'perform' her songs in my bedroom. She was, is, and forever will be an icon. Hearing Britney tell her story after a lifetime of people trying to tell it for her felt so powerful.”—Alanna

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Leslie F*cking Jones by Leslie Jones

“I’m listening to this now and it is the *best*, I legitimately LOL often (even at the book’s description). She narrates like she does a comedy set, with a lot of emotion, laughs, and tears during the sad moments. I’ve never heard an audiobook like it. Be warned, if you are sensitive to swearing there is a *lot*.” —Jacques

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The Underworld: Journeys to the Depths of the Ocean by Susan Casey

“I just finished Susan Casey's new book, The Underworld, which follows her journey of deep sea exploring. If you're interested in nature listens, she's the best. Voices in the Ocean is one of my favourite non-fiction books ever.” —Tiana

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Congratulations, The Best Is Over! by R. Eric Thomas

“This book will make you laugh, cry, think, feel, everything. Reminded me of how a Samantha Irby book makes you laugh out loud, but he touches on some more serious matters, too. Officially a big, big fan.” —Deandra

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Fire Weather: The Making of a Beast by John Vaillant

“This is about the Fort McMurray fire, but really about wildfires, fossil fuels and climate change, and how forest fires that used to be a thing that happened 'out in the wilderness' are getting bigger, hotter and closer to cities.”—Michael

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Argument, explanation, and big ideas

Quietly Hostile: Essays by Samantha Irby

“It's not news that Samantha Irby is funny. It is news that she's still got stories to tell and got legit LOLs out of me on the topics of Dave Matthews, screenwriting choices in ahem 'adult' 'cinema', and of course bathroom stuff. Honestly, anybody who's ever struggled chronically with their tummy will feel not only seen, but dare I say celebrated? Irby's an audiobook-only author for me, and her performance here is spot-on, as ever.”—Nathan

Nathan had a chance to talk to Samantha on the Kobo in Conversation podcast.

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Slow AF Run Club: The Ultimate Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Run by Martinus Evans

“Am loving this. Body-positive, hilarious. As the Nike mission statement says 'If you have a body, you are an athlete.'”—Michael

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Dear Dolly: Collected Wisdom by Dolly Alderton

“I love Dolly Alderton and I would read her grocery lists. Every time I read something from Dolly, I feel like I’m hanging out with a cool older sister from whom I learn all of the important things in life - from embracing the messy parts of life, being gentle with yourself, and knowing when you deserve better from the people around you. You can pick up this book when you have a quick 5 minutes, or settle in for an hour, either way, it’s like Dolly is sitting there with you on the couch, or on the other end of the phone.”—Elizabeth

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Black Friend: Essays by Ziwe

An iconic book! If you are a fan of Ziwe (and if you're not... become one) you must read this book. I was laughing out loud throughout it (awkward on the Go Train but oh well!) and it made me ready to rewatch Ziwe's show because she is just so funny and smart. And on top of that, it's a quick read! —Deandra

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You Just Need to Lose Weight: And 19 Other Myths About Fat People by Aubrey Gordon

“This is an unusual book in that it's structured around 19 statements that fat people often hear, presenting factual and carefully-argued rebuttals to each one. The sequencing is so thoughtfully done that there's very little repetition, and each chapter builds on the last to chisel away some of the more stubborn myths from different angles. But what surprised me was the final chapter about a 20th myth, which Gordon dispels while stepping aside to put focus on hardships borne by others. It's a moving and graceful ending to a hard-nosed and rigorous book.”—Nathan

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Ultra-Processed People: Why We Can't Stop Eating Food That Isn't Food by Chris van Tulleken

“I have been doing the digital version of "yelling from the rooftops" about this book because I simply think everyone needs to read it. Basically, if you need food to live, this book should be required reading. As someone who feels fairly confident reading ingredient list and understanding why processed food is not good for us, this book opened my eyes to so much. Not just in respect to how our bodies react to these foods but the greater global consequences - on the environment, on vulnerable communities, on future generations and more. On top of that, he's a great writer! It genuinely made me laugh out loud a couple of times, and it's not written in a way that is hard to follow. All of this to say, please consider adding this to your TBR piles because it is something that impacts every one of us every single day.” —Deandra

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Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma by Claire Dederer

“This would make a perfect summer read! The author narrates the audiobook herself and the writing is smart, engaging, and really insightful. Altogether, it’s a delightful read despite the darker subject matter.”—Fatma

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