Bookish Things

My Top 3 Favorite Books of 2023 So Far (Plus 1 That Was 1000% Dumpster Fire)

It’s been an interesting year of books for me so far.

I won’t lie, I have been doing a lot more DNF-ing this year than I feel like is usual for me. I don’t know if that’s because the books I’m picking up are truly meh or if it’s just that, as I get older, I have less of a desire to push through things I’m not enjoying.

In either case, there have definitely been a few amazing, stand-out novels in the first quarter of 2023. Here are my top three:

The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff

This novel, centered on a woman being ostracized in her village because she’s thought to have killed her husband, seemed really out ofleft field for my usual taste. However, it is hilarious. The characters are simply just very good. The pacing of the book also keeps you entertained and reading.

A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon

If you read and enjoyed The Priory of the Orange Tree, this one was probably already on your list. However, I don’t think you have to have read Priory to “get” or enjoy this prequel. I actually thought the story and writing in this book were better than Priory. If you like reading high fantasy but want aspects of queer relationships and feminism, this is a great series to jump into.

How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

This horror/drama/comedy surprised me a lot. It’s really rare to find a book that can weave horror and comedy together in a way that doesn’t come across as odd. There are some really awful, freaky parts to this book, but it’s laced with a sense of humor that doesn’t make the book too dark. I also really enjoyed the characters, their backstories, and how the book uses the plot to discuss family ties.

And now, one dumpster fire I feel obligated to tell the world to avoid:

Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh

I remember reading My Year of Rest and Relaxation and thinking that it was weird but palatable. This book, which shares the story of a poor sheep herder’s son turned wealthy lord’s court jester essentially, was beyond weird. It was disgusting. Think overly graphic depictions of violence, sexual assault, abuse by forcing servants to put various fruits in various orifices, etc.

I didn’t end up finishing the book because at halfway through, I couldn’t see the plot getting any better. It was the literary equivalent of finding yourself in a muddy pit filled with garbage. If there was a point to this book, I assume most people won’t stick around long enough to find it.

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