25 Best Fiction Books of 2023 (So Far)
Attention, book lovers! These new and coming-soon fiction books belong on your must-read list for 2023.
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Must-read new fiction books for 2023
We all have a few tried-and-true fiction faves, but there’s something special about cracking the spine on a brand-new, hot-off-the-press novel. Whether it’s your favorite author’s new release or a new writer’s debut, great fiction books make the perfect escape from ordinary life.
That’s why we’ve rounded up a list of the best new book releases (or soon-to-be releases) in 2023. This handpicked selection spans the gamut of book genres and includes book recommendations from Reader’s Digest editors. The list also includes highly anticipated releases from previous award-winning authors and a few debuts from new authors who have generated buzz among critics and early readers. So are you craving mystery books? Romance? Thrillers? No matter which you prefer, there are new books to read—and who knows, by next year, some might be on your list of the best books of all time.
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1. Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor
Release date: Jan. 3, 2023
Deepti Kapoor’s latest action-packed novel unfolds like a bingeworthy Netflix show. This thriller begins when a wealthy Indian man’s car swerves off the road in New Delhi, killing five innocent bystanders. But when the dust settles, the rich man is nowhere to be found. How and to where did he disappear, and what will become of the lowly staff member left at the scene? With a rollicking plot that will whisk you from old-money mansions to humble homes in small agricultural villages, Age of Vice will take you on an unforgettable ride through modern India. Find out what your famous book characters would look like in real life.
2. City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita
Release date: Jan. 10, 2023
This might be Iris Yamashita’s debut novel, but the author is no stranger to tightly woven plots and compelling characters: Yamashita is the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima. In City Under One Roof, she presents a crime story—the first of what will be a two-book mystery series—set in a small, claustrophobic Alaska town. Detective Cara Kennedy has been sent to investigate the origins of severed limbs found washed up on an icy shore. But soon after arriving in Point Mettier, Cara gets snowed in with the 205 townsfolk living in the same apartment building. Who is hiding the key to the crime? And is there anyone she can truly trust?
The gripping story, quirky characters and twisty plot are just a few of the reasons we picked City Under One Roof as our February Reader’s Digest Book Club selection.
3. The World and All That It Holds by Aleksandar Hemon
Release date: Jan. 24, 2023
If you love an unflinching historical fiction novel, you’ll love Bosnian American author Aleksandar Hemon’s The World and All That It Holds. This love story between two soldiers in the brutal trenches of World War I is one of the best LGBTQ books you’ll read this year. Rafael Pinto is built for poetry, not warfare. His compatriot, Osman, is fiercely protective. Religious and background differences melt away as the two fight for their lives. Hemon traces their relationship across time and continents with lyrical descriptions and philosophical musings.
4. Maame by Jessica George
Release date: Jan. 31, 2023
Maame is a refreshing, irresistible 2023 debut from Jessica George. The story of twentysomething Maddie’s fresh start at adulthood is shot through with themes of family, race and discrimination, womanhood and the immigrant reality of feeling torn between cultures. Maddie is a vibrant protagonist who feels stuck. Her job is a slog. Her mother is far away in Ghana—yet somehow still intimately critical. And her dad has Parkinson’s disease and needs Maddie’s daily help. So when her mother returns to London for a year, Maddie leaps at the chance to rent a new place and live like her friends and colleagues. Only sometimes stepping outside the constraints of home feels a lot like getting lost.
5. Essex Dogs by Dan Jones
Release date: Feb. 7, 2023
History buffs might already be familiar with Dan Jones’s nonfiction. This year, the author of Powers and Thrones and Crusaders tries his hand at fiction books with a deeply researched novel that takes place during the Hundred Years’ War. Set to be the first in a trilogy, Essex Dogs follows 10 medieval warriors heading deep into the battles and politics of mapping 14th- and 15th-century Europe.
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6. What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jiménez
Release date: March 7, 2023
When Ruthy Ramirez was 13, she disappeared. The red-headed Puerto Rican girl with a beauty mark under her left eye went to track practice and never returned. The Ramirez family hasn’t been the same since. Fast-forward 12 years to 2008, when the two remaining Ramirez sisters sit down to veg out in front of a trashy reality-TV show. They can’t help but notice that one of the contestants looks an awful lot like an older version of their long-lost sister—beauty mark and all. Part mystery, part family drama, What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez is a wonderful exploration of family bonds. If you’re trying to read more books this year, What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez is a good place to start—the humor, heart and compelling mystery will propel you right along.
7. A Death at the Party by Amy Stuart
Release date: March 7, 2023
Amy Stuart’s domestic whodunit A Death at the Party is like a contemporary Agatha Christie novel with a sprinkle of White Lotus. Nadine is throwing a neighborhood garden party when she discovers a body in the basement. Got that? Now quickly rewind to the beginning of the day, before the killing, and try to guess both murderer and victim as the plot unfolds. The entire book takes place in a day, which makes this a deliciously taut, fast-paced thriller.
8. The God of Endings by Jacqueline Holland
Release date: March 7, 2023
This atmospheric debut novel from Jacqueline Holland is poised to make a mark on the dark fantasy genre. Collette LeSange is reluctantly immortal. Hundreds of years ago, her life was saved by a grandfather figure who granted her everlasting life—but with a catch. Collette is now a vampire, and keeping the world safe from her growing hunger has made her sad and lonely. Advance readers have compared The God of Endings to the New York Times bestseller The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, but why not pick up a copy of this vampire novel and draw your own conclusions?
9. Now You See Us by Balli Kaur Jaswal
Release date: March 7, 2023
If you loved reading a housekeeper’s perspective in The Maid, Nina Prose’s cozy mystery, pick up a copy of Balli Kaur Jaswal’s Now You See Us. Corazon, Donita and Angel are Filipina domestic workers in Singapore. They are housekeepers and caregivers—the invisible women who witness the comings and goings of the filthy rich. When the three get wind that another domestic worker has been charged with murdering her employer, they commit to solving the crime and unmasking the actual perpetrator.
10. Dust Child by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
Release date: March 14, 2023
What happens in wartime doesn’t always stay in wartime. That’s the case in Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s Dust Child. Take Phong, for instance. He had as much say as a speck of dust in his conception—the coming together of a Black American soldier and Vietnamese woman in the late 1960s. And then there’s Linda. She knew when she married Dan that he was a military veteran with PTSD from his combat years, but he never divulged all that happened. And then there are Trang and Quỳnh, two young women who became “bar girls” for the GIs, showing their pretty, friendly faces (and more) for money. When Linda and Dan plan a trip to Việt Nam, past and present come together in unexpected ways. If you loved Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, you’re going to want to carve out uninterrupted reading time for this historical fiction title.
11. The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise by Colleen Oakley
Release date: March 28, 2023
A 21-year-old gamer named Tanner who is, admittedly, in a bit of a slump. An 83-year-old woman named Louise who doesn’t need a caregiver, thank you very much. Thrown together as employee and employer by the octogenarian’s daughter, this unlikely pair can make it through their days just fine on opposite sides of the room. But then Tanner sees a news story about a past jewelry heist with a suspect who looks an awful lot like Louise. Next thing she knows, Louise is suggesting a middle-of-the-night road trip to California. Let the comedic getaway begin! Fans of Thelma and Louise, prepare yourselves. The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise is the twist on the classic flick you didn’t know you needed.
12. Homecoming by Kate Morton
Release date: April 4, 2023
Remember The Clockmaker’s Daughter? The Lake House? How about The Secret Keeper? Yes, those. To date, all Kate Morton’s fiction books have been bestsellers. Like The Lake House, Homecoming builds a plot and characters centered around a crime. On Dec. 24, 1959, a brutal crime occurred at the Turners’ house. The mystery was never solved. Almost 60 years later, when journalist Jess Turner-Bridges returns to the house to visit her fragile grandmother, she starts making connections she’d never made before. Has the key to the crime been there all along?
13. Symphony of Secrets by Brendan Slocumb
Release date: April 18, 2023
The author of The Violin Conspiracy (one of our favorite fiction books of 2022) is at it again! This time, Brendan Slocumb’s self-described musical thriller centers on a music-history expert named Bern Hendricks, who has uncovered a terrible secret: a renowned 20th-century American composer didn’t compose his own music. The compositions were stolen from a neurodivergent Black composer named Josephine Reed. The news will shock the music establishment, but that doesn’t stop Bern from doing everything he can to uncover the truth and right an old wrong.
14. Silver Alert by Lee Smith
Release date: April 18, 2023
With themes of living life to the fullest and second chances, Lee Smith’s Silver Alert would make a perfect 2023 beach read. It’s a road-trip novel set in the Florida Keys, after all! Octogenarian Herb isn’t ready to grow old. But his wife has succumbed to dementia, and his adult children have arrived at his doorstep to tell him it’s time to move into a senior care facility. So Herb does what anyone in his place would do: He suggests a penultimate joyride with his wife’s manicurist for company. Readers are lucky to be invited along as an unlikely friendship forms and the two open up about their fears—his for the future, hers about the past.
15. Only Love Can Hurt Like This by Paige Toon
Release date: April 25, 2023
If you prefer fiction books with a heaping helping of romance (or love anything from Colleen Hoover or Laura Jane Williams), Only Love Can Hurt Like This belongs on your must-read list. After finding out her fiancé is cheating on her, Wren wants to get out of the U.K. So she heads to the United States to spend a few months in Indiana with her dad and stepmom. There, surrounded by cornfields, she meets a man named Anders, and the two have an instant connection. It would be the perfect summer love story if it weren’t for Anders’s secrets.
16. Paper Names by Susie Luo
Release date: May 2, 2023
Susie Luo’s debut novel, Paper Names, explores what it means to grow up in a family straddling two countries—in this case, China and the United States. It’s the story of Tony, a Chinese man who moved to America for a better life. It’s also the story of his Chinese American daughter, Tammy, who grapples with meeting her dad’s expectations while also following her dreams. Then there’s Oliver, a wealthy white neighbor who, at first glance, seems to have nothing in common with them. But their lives are about to collide in a way that changes them forever. If you love this one, pick up even more must-read books by Asian American authors.
17. The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer
Release date: May 9, 2023
Death doula Clover Brooks spends her days helping the dying come to terms with their lives and doing her best to grant last wishes. The trouble is that Clover is better at giving others a fulfilling death than giving herself a fulfilling life. Outside her working hours, she’s lonely, anxious and socially awkward. When one elderly woman’s last wish sends Clover on the hunt for an old flame from the woman’s youth, Clover must face her fears and ask, “Am I brave enough to live a life with no regrets?” For all its talk of death, The Collected Regrets of Clover is never dark or grim. The feel-good story is beautiful, heartwarming and ultimately hopeful.
18. Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
Release date: May 16, 2023
Fair warning: Yellowface is bound to be polarizing. R.F. Kuang—you might recognize her name from the Poppy War fantasy book series—has written it to raise hackles. This self-aware dark satire tackles current issues like cultural appropriation, the lack of diversity in publishing and structural racism. The plot centers on a bestselling author named Juniper Song. The trouble is that Juniper isn’t really Juniper. Her name is June, and her novel is a stolen manuscript from a deceased Asian American classmate. But June’s deception goes deeper. To sell the story, she professed to be an Asian American author. How many layers of lies will she tell to save face?
19. The Second Ending by Michelle Hoffman
Release date: May 30, 2023
If you love music, you’ll enjoy Michelle Hoffman’s The Second Ending. And if you don’t have a musical bone in your body? You’ll still get swept up in a story that stresses it’s never too late for a second chance. At first glance, Prudence Childs and Alexei Petrov have nothing in common. She was a child prodigy who is now squandering her talent on commercial jingles. He is a trending internet sensation with no life or friends outside the cutthroat classical music industry. Both get a second go at a better life when they’re pitted against each other on a dueling-piano reality-TV show.
20. The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer
Release date: May 30, 2023
Our list of must-read fiction books wouldn’t be complete without a novel that reminds readers of the power books hold between their pages. Meg Shaffer’s The Wishing Game may not contain any magic—this is a whimsical tale, but it’s grounded in reality—yet there’s something magical about the book. With a story reminiscent of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and as puzzle-filled as The Westing Game, it’s an entertaining escape. In it, a reclusive children’s book author invites four true fans to his private island to compete for a chance to secure the only copy of his new manuscript. Lucy Hart, a teacher’s aide who remembers how the books brought her joy and comfort as a child, is delighted to receive an invitation. Of course, she and the others have no idea what games and plot twists the author has waiting for her on Clock Island.
21. Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan
Release date: June 6, 2023
We’re calling it: Same Time Next Summer might be the ultimate summer read of 2023. No one ever forgets her first love. Sam remembers the magic of high school summers on the beach with Wyatt. The way he made her heart and stomach flutter. The stolen kisses and treehouse rendezvous. These days, Sam is older, wiser and over him, with the buttoned-up personality to prove it. Or so she thinks. But when Sam takes her fiancé, Jack, to the old beach house to check out nearby wedding venues, a chance encounter with Wyatt sends her mind and heart into a tailspin.
22. Banyan Moon by Thao Thai
Release date: June 27, 2023
Thao Thai’s debut novel traces three generations of Vietnamese American women from wartime Vietnam to the swamps of Florida. Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, author of The Mountains Sing and Dust Child (another of our favorite fiction books of 2023!), has called Banyan Moon “heart-shatteringly beautiful” and “a love letter to keepers of secrets, to motherhood, family and survival.” This powerful historical fiction novel is one of the most-anticipated books of the year.
23. Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead
Release date: July 18, 2023
Pulitzer Prize–winning author Colson Whitehead whisks readers back to 1970s New York City in Crook Manifesto, the sequel to 2021’s bestselling Harlem Shuffle. Between the seedy politicians, Hollywood debutantes and powerful mobsters, Harlem is teeming with all walks and seasons of life. Ray Carney is a man caught in the fray. As the story by one of today’s greatest Black authors moves through the ’70s, Ray swerves between being a criminal and a hero, all while staying dedicated to what matters most: keeping his business open and his family close.
24. Everyone Here Is Lying by Shari Lapena
Release date: July 25, 2023
Say hello to another twisty domestic thriller from Shari Lapena, author of The Couple Next Door. The tight-knit neighbors of Stanhope all say it’s a wonderful town, the ideal place to raise a family. Of course, no one is perfect, and, well, everyone here is lying. One of the liars? William Wooler, whose tempestuous affair ends the same day his 9-year-old daughter goes missing. You’ll be clinging to every page as neighbors step forward to share what they know, all while harboring their own dark secrets.
25. Gone Tonight by Sarah Pekkanen
Release date: Aug. 1, 2023
How far would you go to keep a loved one safe from potential danger? Would you lie to her? Would you undermine her blossoming friendships? Would you control every detail of her life so she’d never have to know the pain you’ve known? Sarah Pekkanen’s startling, breathtaking tale of a mother and daughter will plunge you into a plot layered by lies and trauma but still infused with love. Through deft writing and thoughtful character development, she’s created a fast-paced thriller in Gone Tonight, daring to ask deep questions about love versus fear, and control versus protection.
Next, here are some great books for men to check out.