The year is nearly over already! But what were the best books that came out this year?
We asked everyone at all three Third Place Books locations for their 10 favorite books of 2023, and from the hundreds of fantastic books, compiled the ten that appeared on the most lists.
Our Top Ten Favorite Books of 2023
Family Meal by Bryan Washington
Audiobook at Libro.fm
Washington's Family Meal builds on the intimacy of his previous work while dialing into a new level of warmth that makes for an inviting, wholly satisfying reading experience. – Bookseller Wes (Lake Forest Park)
The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride
Audiobook at Libro.fm
If you're a sucker for setting: this book is for you. If you love history: this book is for you. If you love a family epic — if you love characters — if you love dialogue — this book is for you. The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store reminds the reader that we can be awful and let greed and fear get the best of us, but softens the blow with the sweet medicine we need: the lesson that community can and will save us, if we let it. – Bookseller Kitri (Seward Park)
An unpretentious, deeply engaged and thoughtful book about how "we" (the fans) have struggled with the work of monstrous artists—filmmakers, painters, writers, critics. Dederer adds to the discourse, much of which has occurred online, and solidifies many of the good and nuanced opinions founded since the start of #MeToo. What I loved most about Dederer's approach is that it's not prescriptive. It's about those of us who love the work, and feel devastated, betrayed, saddened by the horrible acts of the artist. In one of her more stunning lines, that I would like to have printed and framed: "The way you consume art doesn't make you a bad person, or a good one. You'll have to find some other way to accomplish that. – Bookseller Spencer (Lake Forest Park)
The characters, the dialogue, the setting all go down as smooth as butter. The topic, however—the intersection of sports entertainment, slavery, and incarceration—is more like swallowing a bundle of sharp rocks, dynamite and knives. It is a testament to Adjei-Brenyah's unparalleled ability as a storyteller that this book is as compulsively readable as it is—and to his talent for nuanced, razor sharp writing, that enjoying this book means you're taking part in the very systems that he absolutely destroys with this book. – bookseller Kitri (Seward Park)
I picked up Rouge because it's Mona Awad and that alone is enough. If you read Bunny or All's Well and loved either for their surreal storytelling, dark and sometimes sick sense of humor, and the spiraling, obsessive women at their centers, Rouge is a must-read. It's an upside-down fairy tale about beauty cults and a fixation on vanity passed from mother to daughter. This book will play with you, so prepare to be disoriented until you are thoroughly comfortable with the feeling. — bookseller Jess (Ravenna)
This black hole of a book, I say with the most tenderness, absorbed me. Cassie is a witness to her own life as much as she is witness to people lighting themselves on fire, shitting in the street, our impending virus, California wildfires, Silicon Valley toxic work hustle, and the black hole that expands and contracts above her head. I typically don't like office place narratives or how writers have been writing the pandemic narrative but Etter does so beautifully and devastatingly. — bookseller Emily (Lake Forest Park)
The absurd idea of continuing to commute to work and pay bills and host dinner parties while the world is falling apart and people are suffering is made into book form with Ripe. Even the comedic beats are as black as the void that has followed Cassie since her birth, growing bigger and more enticing as an escape during her hellish complicity in tech-gentrified San Francisco. — bookseller Sarah C (Lake Forest Park)
Pageboy is a beautiful exploration and declaration of what it means to love. It's a moving and tender memoir about the actor's childhood, experience in the film industry and trans journey. After reading I became an even bigger fan and I can't wait to see what he does next. – Bookseller Rosa (Lake Forest Park)
To call this collection of essays a challenge to the status quo wouldn't get my full point across - Myriam Gurba actively kicks back with an unforgiving ferocity, delivering blows to rape culture, colonialism, familial machismo, and the deifying of Joan Didion as the queen of a (stolen) California. — bookseller Sarah C (Lake Forest Park)
Just try to stop thinking about this book. I can't. Gurba is an astonishing writer, and I am in love with every word. Repulsive, shocking, real, compelling, sharp—this has everything I want in nonfiction. – bookseller Kitri (Seward Park)
We've had the privilege of seeing a self-righteous, unlikable, scammer main characters across media of all kinds recently, and Yellowface's June Hayward is a perfect addition to that roster. R. F. Kuang clearly has a knack for writing horrible people who think that they're the one true victim of life, and there's nothing better than seeing someone like that having the life they deserve. — bookseller Kathryn (Seward Park)
To me this is the perfect kids book.
Beautifully illustrated: check
Gazes into a vast, human loneliness and dares to reach out a hand: check — bookseller Allie (Lake Forest Park)