Critics share their top book picks for 2023.

Fiction has hit its stride this year, with impactful novels like "Absolution" and "The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store" delving into history and race with depth and nuance. Nonfiction has captivated readers with gripping tales of survival and gripping memoirs, making 2023 an unforgettable year for book lovers. 📚

Fiction Favorites 📖

Maureen Corrigan: 🏙️📚

Maureen Corrigan, a book critic of NPR’s "Fresh Air," shared two of her favorite fiction reads of 2023. The first one is "Absolution" by Alice McDermott, where the characters are pulled into charitable work in Vietnam during 1963. Maureen praised the nuanced portrayal of race in "The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store" by James McBride, set in 1925 in a historically immigrant neighborhood.

Gilbert Cruz: 🖋️📖

Gilbert Cruz, books editor of The New York Times, recommended "The Bee Sting" by Paul Murray, a family saga set amidst the 2008 financial crisis. He also lauded "North Woods" by Daniel Mason, a captivating tale spanning three centuries in Western Massachusetts. All four books had a strong sense of history and family life.

Nonfiction Notables 📘

Maureen Corrigan: 📚🌎

In the nonfiction category, Maureen Corrigan’s notable picks included "The Wager" by David Grann, a traditional narrative history about a shipwreck and mutiny, and Safiya Sinclair’s memoir "How to Say Babylon," depicting a journey from a repressive childhood context into a wider world.

Gilbert Cruz: 📚🔍

Gilbert Cruz echoed Maureen’s praise for "The Wager" by David Grann and added "Master Slave Husband Wife" by Ilyon Woo into the mix. This historical narrative focused on a couple’s daring escape from Georgia in 1848. He also recommended "Fire Weather" by John Vaillant, a climate change book that masterfully wove together a wildfire account and the history of oil extraction.

Literary Trends and Observations 📚🔍

Maureen Corrigan noted a surge in social consciousness in literary fiction, with authors addressing reproductive rights issues in unexpected genres. On the other hand, Gilbert Cruz identified a growing trend in historical fiction novels and the emergence of the romantasy subgenre, featuring a blend of romance and fantasy.

In conclusion, these remarkable recommendations from esteemed critics provide a compelling invitation to explore a diverse array of captivating books. Happy reading!


Key Takeaways:

Here are the key takeaways from the critics’ favorite books of 2023:

  • Fiction and nonfiction picks offered rich explorations of history and societal issues.
  • Literary trends showcase a strong focus on social consciousness and the continued growth of historical fiction and romantasy subgenre.

Using their insightful reviews, book enthusiasts can embark on an exciting journey through the top literary treasures of the year.

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