As one would expect, our staff spends a lot of our free time reading. And we rounded up our favorite books we dove into this year for you to enjoy!
How dare you (me) ask me to pick a favorite book out of the many many great ones I read this year?! I will go with my gut feeling of Nettle and Bone, which surprised me, made me laugh, and felt familiar and new all at once. In this fairy-tale-esque story, Marra must go on a quest to save her sister from her husband, a prince. Joining her are a heartwarming cast of characters: a witch (and her possessed chicken), an ex-soldier, her fairy godmother, and of course a dog made of bones.
– Ellen Whitfield, vice president
This book reminded me why I fell in love with reading at such a young age! Imaginative and chock full of learning, this educationally entertaining middle grade novel is one that will be in classrooms everywhere for years to come! An instant classic!
– Elysse Wagner, campaign strategist
Somebody Feed Phil is hands down one of my favorite shows on Netflix, so I was so excited when I heard that Phil Rosenthal was coming out with a book in October. He has such a colorful, effervescent personality on his show, and that shines through in his book as well. I can’t wait to cook my way through the recipes — and hopefully use this book for travel inspiration in 2023!
– Angelle Barbazon, lead publicist
It’s kind of unfair to every other great book I’ve read this year, but when I read a new Backman book, it’s always five stars and it’s always one I’ll recommend to people for years to come. Continuing the story from where Beartown left off, Backman’s writing about the icy, troubled hockey town is — as always — beautiful and heartwrenching and funny and insightful. And yes, I am putting off reading The Winners until next year…so I think I can already see what my fav book of 2023 might be.
– Jenn Vance, publicist and digital marketing strategist
I recently moved from New Orleans back up north to be closer to my family, but I read Salvage the Bones while I was visiting New Orleans in April. The story details a Mississippi family’s experience with hurricane Katrina in which Jesmyn weaves a visceral, raw, and beautiful account of family, place, and heritage. If you’re looking for a book to punch you right in the gut, then you’re absolutely going to want to pick this one up.
– Layne Mandros, publicist
Have you ever seen a movie adaptation before reading the book it was based on? That’s what happened to me with CMBYN. I loved the movie and finally got around to reading André Aciman’s masterpiece of a novel, which had me in tears at the end. This is easily in the running for best love story ever written, and no I will not explain because my words won’t do it justice. You’ll have to read it and experience it for yourself.
– Jackie Karneth, publicist
This was my first time reading Klune’s work, and I adored his writing style. It was also my first time reading fantasy in awhile, so discovering the characters and their magical skills was so much fun. This book is so cozy and has a great message: “You can have the life you want, you just have to go out and find it!”
– Corrine Pritchett, publicist and digital marketing strategist
This is the incredible retelling of the famous Ramayana tale, but instead of focusing on the main character, Rama, it focuses on the tale’s villain, Kaikyei, the wicked stepmother. But in this tale, Kaikeyi is a woman of her circumstance, and with the use of her magic and willpower, Kaikeyi creates the future she’s always imagined as a diplomat, a queen, and a revolutionary. Of course, that future isn’t without its turmoils and Kaikeyi must fight to continue the great work she’s doing or face losing her family all together.
– Simone Jung, publicist
This book was a surprise for me in the best possible way. I knew nothing about this book going into it, (saw it on a bookshelf and liked the cover) but was immediately sucked in on the first page. A speculative literary fiction novel that weaves together the life of a man named Elliot Chance struggling with mental health and the meaning of life with the imaginings of the Before and After. As someone who has struggled with mental health myself, this book was relatable and moving. Heartwarming and heartwrenching in equal parts, this story and these characters will stick with you and may have you looking at life with a new perspective.
– Rachel Hutchings, publicist and digital marketing strategist
I’ve been a big fan of Emily Henry for awhile now, but this book became an instant favorite as soon as I started it. I saw such a large piece of myself in Nora and I couldn’t help falling in love with Charlie as well. This book also made me think about book publishing and press as a job, which introduced me to Books Forward! For that, it will always have a piece of my heart.
– Rachel Lachney, intern
Ellen Whitfield is senior publicist at Books Forward, an author publicity and book marketing firm committed to promoting voices from a diverse variety of communities. From book reviews and author events, to social media and digital marketing, we help authors find success and connect with readers.