Favorite Books 2023

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I've done a lot of reading this year, and I won't list all the books I've read here, but I wanted to list a handful of favorites in both fiction and non-fiction. I've also shared some other titles I've read on Goodreads, so if you have an account there, please add and follow me there: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/29732821.Franklin_Taggart

Fiction Raves:
Top of my fiction list: 

Remarkably Bright Creatures, by Shelby Van Pelt, Narrators - Marin Ireland and Michael Urie

I've recommended this book to almost everyone I know. It's a bittersweet family drama with an octopus as the real protagonist. Marin Ireland and Michael Urie give an enchanting voice performance. 

The White Lady, by Jacqueline Winspear, Narrator - Orlagh Cassidy

Child spies bringing down Nazis in Belgium throughout two World War's and a family's sole survivor becoming a linchpin in the effort of a son of a London organized crime family to start a new life. Plenty of excitement.

The Collected Regrets of Clover: A Novel, by Mikki Brammer, Narrator - Jennifer Pickens

Clover is a death doula in New York City, helping people navigate their last hours and keeping a record of their last words and any memorable regrets. Her first experiences of death at very young ages give her a comfort level with death and dying that many would judge as potentially creepy. THe story is as much about Clover's coming to life as it is anything else. 

The Family, by Naomi Krupitsky, Narrator - Marin Ireland

OK, so you might see that Marin Ireland shows up as one of the narrators I listen to most on Audible. I have to confess that she has become one of my primary sources of author discovery just because I haven't heard a performance of hers I haven't liked. The Family is a spellbinding story of two young women from childhood into early adulthood and marriage who are both the children of mafia leaders. The messy complexity of having to balance family normalcy with daily moral compromise is prominent in the story.

Fiction Revisits:

A Prayer for Owen Meany, and The Hotel New Hampshire, by John Irving

I have been a fan of John Irving's books since reading The World According to Garp when I was in high school. I love the general human insecurities of his protagonists and his honest capture of family function and dysfunction. I had forgotten how much I had loved both of these books when I read them the first time. This time I was treated to narration. Joe Barrett was masterful and gave Owen Meany's VOICE the perfection it needed. Kirby Heybourne created a moving scene in my imagination of each of the Hotels New Hampshire that are indelible.

I also had a steady diet of Craig Johnson, C.J. Box, and Carlene O'Connor on my fiction list.

All of my fiction reading is on audiobooks. If I try to sit down and read an actual book, I'll be asleep in minutes. Audible allows me to read while I'm doing other things. Non-fiction I usually read on Kindle.

My Non-Fiction Favorites for 2023:

How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times, by Roy Peter Clark

I've been on a short message-writing kick for about two years. I added this book to my list over a year ago but finally read it this year. If you want to bump up the performance of your social media posts, emails, and even text messages, this book will give you so many ideas to choose from. I also enjoyed his writing style. So many of these how to write books are uninteresting to read. This one was captivating.

Dickens and Prince: A Particular Kind of Genius, by Nick Hornby

I mention this book not because it has any groundbreaking revelation in it but because I would have never in a million years put together a comparison of the lives and creative output of Charles Dickens and Prince. Leave it to Nick Hornby. If you need another reason to be creatively inspired by either or both of these subjects, I suspect you'll like this story.

Tough Titties: On Living Your Best Life When You're the F***ing Worst, by Laura Belgray

I was an early reviewer for this one and had a difficult time waiting for the actual release date to arrive so that I could tell everyone about it. I've been a Laura Belgray copywriting fan for a few years, and I was excited to hear when she started working on this memoir a few years ago. This is a Gen X hero's journey. This one is in the running for the Goodreads Humor Book of the Year. I thought it was both hilarious and surprisingly inspiring. Treat yourself to the author-read audiobook.

You can see more of my recent reading list on Goodreads. Fee free to share recommendations wherever you and I connect with each other.