Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

January 22, 2024

The Best Books I Read in 2023.

      I read 42 books in 2023, and it's time to recap my absolute favorite reads. For several years now, I have done a recap post sharing only the very best books of the year. I give out five-star book ratings on Goodreads pretty sparingly, so you know that if one of these books is featured in today's post that I truly loved it. I had four novels, and three non-fiction books make the cut this year! One book was a re-read from a few years ago, the rest were all new to me. 

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Best Fiction Books of 2023:

  • Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfield - My favorite book of the year! While I don't buy a lot of novels, I know that will have to purchase this one sometime soon so I can read it again and again in years to come. This novel takes place between the years 2018-2020. It's about a female comedy writer who works for a fictional version of a Saturday Night Live type show in NYC, and the chance meeting she has at work with a male pop artist who is hosting the show one week. They lose touch after the chance meeting, and then reconnect later on in a unique way. I thought this book was absolutely brilliantly written, and I was heartbroken when I finished it! Romantic Comedy managed to be both sexy, sweet and funny (I laughed out loud in parts!). It got a lot of mid-range ratings on Goodreads because other readers said they really didn't like that a lot of the book took place during the height of the Covid pandemic in 2020. Personally, I loved the 2020 parts! I thought the author did such a genius job capturing how difficult and different life was during that weird year. I thought it made the storyline that much more interesting. I also love the fact that so much of the book was told over long-distance emails, because it reminded me so much of getting to know my fiancé Ryan long-distance for a few months (with tons of texts and calls) before he moved to Virginia, when he was still living in the Midwest.
  • The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand - One of Elin Hilderbrand's best works, I think! I absolutely loved this Nantucket summer novel. It's all about the staff of a recently re-opened luxury hotel in Nantucket. A lot of the staff members have secrets and drama going on in their personal lives, and it's so interesting to learn the backstories of all of the characters. The staff is working hard all summer towards hopefully attracting and impressing a very popular anonymous travel blogger to stay there. I enjoy all of Elin's Nantucket books, but this one especially kept my attention, and there were a few plot twists I didn't guess ahead of time! 
  • Adelaide by Genevieve Wheeler - This novel hit me so deeply. It perfectly summarized two things: 1) the highs and lows of being in your mid 20s, and 2) the realities of falling in love with someone who will never feel mutually about you. What a plotline!! The story hit me so deeply that it made me tear up a couple times while reading. It's about an American named Adelaide who is living and working abroad in the UK post college. She falls hard and fast for a British guy named Rory, but their romance soon has complications. This was the debut novel from the author, and I cannot wait to see what she writes next.
  • The Idea of You by Robinne Lee - I originally gave this book four stars, but I truly could not stop thinking about it a few weeks after I read it, and realized I needed to bump up my rating to five stars! This book is about a 40-year-old divorcee named Solange, who has a chance meeting with the 24-year-old heartthrob star of the world's most popular boyband. (It's clearly based on One Direction!) They end up having a messy, intense and passionate love affair, until Solange is forced to make a really tough decision about their future. Heads up: this book is spicy. There is a ton of adult content in it! But I still loved the storyline so much. There is a movie coming out about the book on Amazon Prime later this year, and I can't wait to watch! 

Best Non-Fiction Books of 2023:

  • Swipe Up for More! Inside the Unfiltered Lives of Influencers by Stephanie McNeal - It's about due time that there is a book written about blogger and influencer culture, right?! This was such a fun and insightful read, especially since I am a blogger of 10+ years myself. The author followed three massively popular influencers and interviewed them in depth about their careers. One of the influencers featured was OG fashion blogger Caitlin Covington from Southern Curls and Pearls! I've followed Caitlin almost as long as I have been blogging, so I loved her parts of the book especially. If you've ever blogged yourself, or hvae enjoyed following bloggers and influencers (which I assume you do if you're reading my blog!), I think you'd really enjoy this read. 
  • The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series by Jessica Radloff - This book is long, but absolutely incredible. It was written for a niche audience though- fans of the hit comedy The Big Bang Theory! I was a huge Big Bang Theory fan when it was on, so as soon as I heard about this book being written I was excited to read it. Jessica Radloff did an incredible job. She spent lengthy amounts of time interviewing all seven of the lead cast members, and the show's creator and producers. The book goes through all 12 seasons of the show in great depth and detail! This book is very lengthy, and it did take me a few weeks to get through, but I loved it. Before this book, I've really enjoyed reading Jessica Radloff's TV articles for Glamour Magazine. She's clearly a great book author as well, and now I want her to write a similar type of book for all of my other favorite TV shows!
  • Open Book by Jessica Simpson - This was a re-read from 2020! With my most favorite five star reads, I like to do re-reads a few years later to see if I still love them just as much. Spoiler alert for this book: I think I loved it even more this time! This time I read alongside my best friend Ciera, as she read it for the first time. It was so fun to discuss it with a friend. This book remains my favorite celebrity memoir of all time! Jessica Simpson is an incredibly talented author, and her life story is wild. This book is deep, impactful, funny, sweet, and sad all in one. It's also incredibly easy to read- can Jessica Simpson please write more books?! If you're a big fan of early 2000s pop culture like I am, this is especially a must-read for you!

     These were the seven best of the best books that I read this year!! I'd love to hear about your favorite reads from last year in the comments.

Past Best Books Of The Year posts:

2018 // 2019 // 2020 // 2021 // 2022

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese


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