The Best Books of 2023 (So Far)—According to Real Simple Editors

Here are the page-turners we can't seem to put down.

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From thrillers to romance novels to historical fiction to memoirs, here are the best books of 2023, all vetted by Real Simple editors. Every month, we'll add more of our favorite page-turners we can't seem to put down. These are the books to add to your reading list this year. 

01 of 20

The Sweet Spot

The Sweet Spot cover


The Greenwich Village brownstone where Lauren has moved with her young family is crumbling and cluttered, but it’s nothing compared to the drama that’s about to explode around her. Through a series of chaotic (and, in author Amy Poeppel’s hands, absolutely hilarious) circumstances, she ends up with a baby on her doorstep, and bands together with two other women to care for it. The Sweet Spot is a celebration of the ways we find community when we need it most.

02 of 20


Sam cover


National Book Award finalist Allegra Goodman’s Sam details the life of a girl grappling with challenging family circumstances and poverty in New England. Organized in short, vignette-style chapters, the novel starts when Sam is 7 and moves through her teen years, deftly examining the angst that comes with growing up female in modern-day America.

03 of 20

River Sing Me Home

River Sing Me Home cover


Eleanor Shearer’s River Sing Me Home opens in Barbados in 1834, when a plantation owner announces emancipation via the Slavery Abolition Act. However, by law, his slaves must continue to work for him as unpaid “apprentices,” making their so-called freedom irrelevant. But Rachel can’t wait any longer: She’s had five children taken from her and sold away. Her tireless journey to find them is a testament to how hard a mother will fight for her kids.

04 of 20

Age of Vice

Age of Vice cover


Set in India, Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor features Ajay, a servant striving to pull his family out of destitution; Sunny, a hard-partying heir to a corrupt fortune; and Neda, the earnest journalist who slips into a relationship that may threaten her life. As their worlds collide, a crime story, a romance, a family saga, and a societal study emerge—making for a truly unputdownable novel.

05 of 20


Maame cover


Maddie, the main character in Maame by Jessica George, feels the weight of the world on her shoulders. The 20-something Londoner is caring for her ailing father while her self-absorbed mother spends most of her time in Ghana. At work, Maddie is dealing with a boss who isn’t open to her ideas, and her social life—not to mention her love life—is nonexistent. When she finally gets to live a little, what unfolds is a funny, poignant, and relatable tale about self-discovery.

06 of 20

Go as a River

Go as a River cover


Shelley Read’s debut novel centers on Victoria Nash, a tough-as-nails teenager who runs the household on her family’s peach farm in 1940s Colorado. She instantly connects with a young Native man passing through town, but when their relationship is brutally cut short, she’s forced to escape to a small shack in the mountains. With gorgeous descriptions of the great outdoors, an illicit love story, and an unforgettable protagonist, Go as a River offers something for everyone.

07 of 20

Stash: My Life in Hiding

Stash: My Life in Hiding cover


In the early 2000s, Laura Cathcart Robbins was a budding author, had two young kids, and was married to one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. She was also severely addicted to pills. When she decided to get sober, she couldn’t find any “quit lit” books that reflected her experience as a Black woman. Her remarkably candid memoir, Stash: My Life in Hiding, fills that void, revealing how her race, self-image, and privilege influenced her addiction and eventual triumph over it.

08 of 20

I Have Some Questions for You

I Have Some Questions For You cover


In I Have Some Questions for You, the new novel by Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist Rebecca Makkai, Bodie Kane is an accomplished film professor and podcaster who returns to her New England boarding school after 20-plus years to teach a two-week class. Once on campus, she can’t stop thinking about the 1995 murder of a former classmate. Delving into the case and the (perhaps wrongful) conviction of the school’s athletic trainer, she wonders if she actually knows something that could help solve the mystery. 

09 of 20

Pineapple Street

Pineapple Street cover


When Sasha, a middle class Rhode Islander, marries Cord Stockton, the only son of old money New Yorkers, they move into the Brooklyn Heights brownstone where he was raised. She quickly discovers she can’t change anything: not the furniture, not the ugly drapes, and—most of all—not her in-laws, who are contending with plenty of drama of their own. (Every single character bursts off the page. Seriously.) Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson is just the right witty, entertaining story to usher in spring.

10 of 20

The House of Eve

The House of Eve cover


The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson, set in the 1950s, features two women whose lives are on vastly different trajectories. Eleanor is determined to succeed at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she’s fallen for a member of one of the city’s elite Black families. Ruby is a brilliant 15-year-old in Philadelphia, desperate to escape her upbringing and become the first in her family to go to college. As both women navigate tough choices and sacrifices, their paths unexpectedly cross, making for a riveting and relatable read.

11 of 20

The Do-Over

The Do-Over cover


Lily Lee is about to start her dream job when an HR background check reveals that because of a glitch with a pass/fail class, she didn’t actually earn her undergrad degree a decade earlier. Forced to go back and get her missing credits, she discovers that her new TA is her old college boyfriend, Jake Cho. Suzanne Park’s The Do-Over is a delight—hilarious and smart, with insightful commentary about second chances, self-doubt, and what it really means to have a successful life.

12 of 20


Homecoming cover


Jess is an unemployed journalist who returns to Sydney from London to care for her ailing grandmother. There, she finds an old book detailing the police investigation into a horrifying 1959 murder that was never resolved. As the storyline in Kate Morton’s Homecoming shifts between past and present, Jess learns her own family might be involved in the notorious case. Her search for answers results in a captivating mystery—exactly the kind of escape we could all use during our downtime.

13 of 20

Life and Other Love Songs

Life and Other Love Songs cover


On his 37th birthday, a father never shows up for his surprise party at home, seeming to disappear into thin air. Over the ensuing years, as his wife and daughter try to discover what happened to him, the story zigzags through the family’s history, from the Great Migration to 1990s New York, and long-held secrets come to light. Be prepared to read Anissa Gray’s totally absorbing and tender tale, Life and Other Love Songs, in one sitting.

14 of 20

Camp Zero

Camp Zero cover


Camp Zero by Michelle Min Sterling is set in a dystopian future, after climate disaster has ravaged the world. Only the wealthiest are safe, living in settlements of floating cities. Rose, a sex worker, is sent by a VIP client to spy on a secretive camp in the far north of Canada in exchange for secure housing for her mother. What follows is a gripping story about survival, with compelling characters and frightening plot twists that will keep you riveted. 

15 of 20

American Mermaid

American Mermaid cover


In Julia Langbein’s American Mermaid, a high school English teacher seems to hit the jackpot: Her novel becomes a bestseller and she moves to L.A. to write the screenplay. When her Hollywood hack cowriters try to turn the feminist masterpiece into a bigbudget action movie, her novel’s main character (a mermaid!) appears to come to life to protest. Wildly inventive, this book will get you thinking about artistic integrity as it elicits plenty of laughs.

16 of 20

The Three of Us

The Three of Us cover


How would you cope if the two people you loved most—your spouse and your best friend—despised each other? That’s the question posed in Ore Agbaje-Williams’s debut novel. A woman’s best friend comes over for a relaxing wine-and-snacks hang that goes off the rails when the host’s husband comes home from work. Cleverly told in three parts, from each character’s point of view, The Three of Us will give its readers lots to talk about over brunch.

17 of 20

The Secret Book of Flora Lea

The Secret Book of Flora Lea cover


The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry is a heart-pounding page-turner about the enduring power of love. In 1939, World War II is under way, and a pair of sisters flee London for the countryside. Hazel, 14, comforts Flora, 5, with stories about a land called Whisperwood. Tragically, Flora disappears while playing outdoors one day, and Hazel never forgives herself. But 20 years later, she receives a book—titled Whisperwood and the River of Stars—and discovers her sister’s story might not be over after all. 

18 of 20

The Last Animal

The Last Animal cover


Ramona Ausubel’s The Last Animal begins with a widowed mother taking her two teenage daughters on a summer vacation to…Siberia, where she’s a scientist on a team hoping to bring woolly mammoths back from extinction. The girls stumble upon a fully preserved 4,000-year-old baby mammoth, and the ensuing journey in this warm, whimsical story takes the trio to Italy, Iceland, and ultimately back to one another. 

19 of 20

Romantic Comedy

Romantic Comedy cover


Sally Milz, the main character in Curtis Sittenfeld’s Romantic Comedy, is a divorced writer for an SNL-like comedy show. One of her best sketches asks why run-of-the-mill men so often end up with incredible women and the reverse never seems to be true. But when she starts emailing with Noah Brewster, a heartthrob pop star she met when he hosted the show, let’s just say the script gets flipped. With a title that truly delivers, this book is pitch-perfect and surprisingly relatable.

20 of 20

The Covenant of Water

The Covenant of Water cover


Author Abraham Verghese returns, 14 years after the release of his blockbuster Cutting for Stone, with The Covenant of Water, a breathtaking novel set in Kerala on the South Indian coast. Spanning most of the 20th century, the story follows one family’s heartbreaking misfortune: In every generation, somebody drowns. As those left behind grapple with grief, the book beautifully explores the lessons we learn from our ancestors in an always-changing world.

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