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It can be a challenge to find new books, and so we often look to friends, colleagues, bestseller lists, and other sources for ideas when we need a good read. Librarians see more books over the course of the year than most people and so the Library of Virginia reached out to the Virginia library community and asked library staff to let us know what their favorite reads were in 2023. These could be new titles or old, and in any genre of fiction or nonfiction. We had a great response to the call for titles, and over 120 library staffers shared their best reads of 2023, comprising nearly 300 titles. The overwhelming top choice, selected by 13 respondents, was Demon Copperfield by Virginia’s Barbara Kingsolver, followed by Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (8 respondents). Over 30 titles got at least two mentions, and 10 titles got three or more mentions. The most frequently mentioned titles were:

Library staff read widely in 2023, with titles covering over 30 genres, both fiction and nonfiction. The titles reflected a preference for fiction among library staff, with 73% falling into that category and 27% falling into the nonfiction category. The list ranges from classics from Willa Cather, Shirley Jackson, and Truman Capote among others, to titles from well-known contemporary authors such as Geraldine Brooks, Jeff Shaara, Louise Penny, and Wendell Berry. There are lots of less-well-known writers here too, making it a great list to use for exploring new reading in 2024. The top 10 genres in the list were:

  • Literary Fiction (59)
  • Thriller (28)
  • Mystery (25)
  • Fantasy (23)
  • Historical Fiction (20)
  • Science Fiction (17)
  • History (15)
  • Contemporary Romance (14)
  • Horror (13)
  • Autobiography (11)

The complete list of titles, authors, and genres is available on Google Drive.

Barry Trott

Adult Services Consultant

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