Scup's Favorites of 2023
We polled our staff for their favorite reads of the year.
The Blue Hour by Tiffany Clarke Harrison
Blue Hour’s almost stream of consciousness narrative navigates loss, violence, joy, and fear without a filter, while somehow managing hope. It broke my heart. And I couldn’t put it down.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
Tomorrow & Tomorrow & Tomorrow is fundamentally a book about love of video games and love for your friends, and even when I disagreed with Sam and Sadie, I was somehow still cheering for them. I keep returning mentally and in conversation to this book, so it has to be my top of 2023.
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
can't believe it took me so long to get around to reading this book, seeing as it was tailor-made to be my favorite. Robin Wall Kimmerer strikes the perfect balance between clear expertise in her field and writing with so much honesty and heart it brought tears to my eyes more than once. Braiding Sweetgrass is a unique blend of wonder and joy at the natural world, an intimate look at the modern Native American experience, and the messiness of being human. It left me changed.
Stay True by Hua Hsu
Stay True is a beautiful, nostalgic tribute to friendship. It’s the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for memoir and by the far the best book I read this year.
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
In the process of teaching fifth and sixth graders about the rewards of empathy through Jacqueline Woodson's 2018 novel Harbor Me, I've been reminded of the power of language to shape personal values. Woodson's story looks at six classmates who struggle with growing older in an America that will not harbor them, so they must become harbors for each other. Told through the emotionally driven flashbacks of an 11-year-old biracial girl, this novel is an important reminder that the politics of our society inevitably shape how the children in our society feel about themselves. Woodson also implies that it's not too late for policymakers to re-examine their decisions.
The Reformatory by Tananarive Due
The Reformatory is not only my favorite book of the year; it’s one of the most powerful and haunting works of historical fiction I’ve ever read. Go to Scuppernong’s YouTube for our recent reading and Q&A with Tananarive Due—and if (like me) you enjoy reading with your ears, be sure to support Scup when downloading your copy on Libro.FM!
The Invisible Dragon: Essays on Art and Other Matters by Dave Hickey
A real find in 2023. Dave Hickey writes about the joy an exhilaration of art--from Carvaggio to old Perry Mason episodes--with an eye to how art and beauty can unite us. His insights can be startling, and his enthusiasm is contagious.
Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Surprisingly humorous and throughly engaging Notes from Underground is a brilliant penetrating look into the psyche of an angry man. It stays with you after you’ve finished reading.
Roses in the Mouth of a Lion by Bushra Rehman
Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion by Bushra Rehman is my favorite book not only because of the beautiful writing and imagery, but because of the way this book pulls emotions out of me without my knowing. It’s one of those books that catches you off guard without having to do any fake shock factor, it feels genuine and good!
Wolf's Coming! by Joe Kulka
To be fair, this is my two-year old grandson's favorite book of 2023, but favorite isn't quite right. Liam was obsessed with it. And the lesson learned here is that passion and obsession is infectious. I had to buy two extra copies of the book for Liam's daycare because Liam's love for the book caused rancor as everyone argued over who got to hold the book because this book had the power of love. I assure you, I've read it more than any other book this year or maybe any year. And still, I love it.