Best books of 2023 (so far!)

Published 6:33 am Tuesday, July 4, 2023

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We’re halfway through the year, and I’ve read 50 books, including 21 published in 2023! Here are five of my favorite new titles.


All the Sinners Bleed by S.A. Cosby

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Titus Crowne is the first Black sheriff in the history of Charon County. A year to the day after his election, a school shooting rocks the town. A beloved teacher is killed by a former student, and as Titus attempts to deescalate and get the boy to surrender, his deputies fire a fatal shot. In the investigation, it becomes clear that the student they shot had been abused by the dead teacher, as well as by unidentified perpetrators. The trail leads to buried bodies—and secrets. 


Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld

A comedy writer thinks she’s sworn off love, until a dreamily handsome pop star flips the script on all her assumptions. With her keen observations and trademark ability to bring complex women to life on the page, Sittenfeld explores the neurosis-inducing and heart-fluttering wonder of love, while slyly dissecting the social rituals of romance and gender relations in the modern age.


What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall

Naomi used to believe in magic. 22 years ago, she and her two best friends, Cassidy and Olivia, spent the summer roaming the woods, imagining a world of ceremony and wonder. The summer ended suddenly when Naomi was attacked. Miraculously, she survived her 17 stab wounds and lived to identify the man who had hurt her. The girls’ testimony put away a serial killer, wanted for murdering six women. They were heroes. And they were liars. For decades, the friends have kept a secret worth killing for. But now Olivia wants to tell, and Naomi sets out to find out what really happened in the woods―no matter how dangerous the truth turns out to be.


What’s Eating Us by Cole Kazdin

Women of all ages struggle with disordered eating, preoccupation with food, and body anxiety. Journalist Cole Kazdin was one such woman, and she set out to discover why her own full recovery from an eating disorder felt so impossible. Interviewing women across the country as well as the world’s most renowned researchers, she discovered that most people with eating disorders never receive treatment––the fact that she did made her one of the lucky ones. Kazdin takes us to the doorstep of the diet industry and research community, exposing the flawed systems that claim to be helping us, and revealing disordered eating for the crisis that it is: a mental illness with the second highest mortality rate (after opioid-related deaths) that no one wants to talk about. 


The Senator’s Wife by Liv Constantine

After a tragic chain of events led to the deaths of their spouses two years ago, D.C. philanthropist Sloane Chase and Senator Whit Montgomery are finally starting to move on. The horrifying ordeal drew them together, and now they’re ready to settle down again—with each other. Sloane is also preparing for an upcoming hip replacement—the latest reminder of the lupus diagnosis she’s managed since her 20s. With both of their hectic schedules, they decide that hiring Athena, a home health aide, will give Sloane the support and independence she needs post-surgery. But as weeks go by, Sloane becomes sicker, and her uncertainty quickly turns to paranoia as she begins to suspect the worst. 


Jen Pace Dickenson is the Youth Services Librarian for Polk County Public Libraries. For information about the library’s resources, programs, and other services, visit or call (828) 894-8721.