Books of the Year 2023

Blog · Posted November 11, 2023

Our choice of the best books from throughout 2023.

Each year our booksellers share their favourite books of the year. If you are in need of inspiration for gifting season, then this list is a good place to start. There is something for everyone here, from family and friends to godchildren and grandparents.


The Bee Sting by Paul Murray – BUY ONLINETold in four voices, a brilliant, funny, dark Irish family saga that grips like a vice. (chosen by Rosamund)

The Fraud by Zadie Smith – BUY ONLINEA fascinating and often witty novel that looks at how the world defined truth during an incredibly volatile period in history. (chosen by Sarah)

Kennedy 35 by Charles Cumming  – BUY ONLINEAbsorbing spy thriller from a master of the genre. Set in the grim aftermath of the Rawandan genocide and contemporary Britain. Tense, thrilling and vivid. (chosen by Rosamund)

The Turnglass by Gareth Rubin – BUY ONLINETwo books within one cover. An addictive and elusive mystery. When you finish, you’ll want to start it all over again. (chosen by Vicky)

Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano – BUY ONLINEMeet the Padavano sisters – glorious best friends, living and loving in 20th-century Chicago. A beautiful homage to Little Women(chosen by Rosamund)

The Witches of Vardø by Anya Bergman – BUY ONLINEAnya Bergman numbed my heart and set it aflame with the tenacity of her characters. This book will haunt me. (chosen by Jack)

When I Sing, Mountains Dance by Irene Solà – BUY ONLINEWith lyrical storytelling and magical realism, Sola has written an incredibly evocative polyphonic novel. A work of beauty. (chosen by Sarah)

The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho by Paterson Joseph – BUY ONLINEInfectious, insightful, and important. If you read just one book this year, make it this one. (chosen by Vicky)

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver – BUY ONLINEKingsolver makes us think and, more importantly, care about what leads people down a path too steep to return from. (chosen by Vivian, ex-Mainstreet bookseller)


Papyrus by Irene Vallejo – BUY ONLINEA history of endless fascination and a love letter to books. Every word is gold dust. (chosen by Vicky)

Stay True by Hua Hsu – BUY ONLINEPoetic and tender observations on friendship that may break your heart but will also manage to mend it. (chosen by Sarah)

The Golden Mole by Katherine Rundell – BUY ONLINEIf you missed this in hardback last year, do read (or give) this glorious celebration of the animal kingdom in all its fragility and eccentric beauty. (chosen by Rosamund)

The Wager by David Grann – BUY ONLINEShipwreck, disaster, and murder. A jaw-dropping account of how far humans can descend to survive. What a yarn, what a writer! (chosen by Vicky)

The Savage Storm by James Holland – BUY ONLINEA visceral examination of the brutal battle for Italy, told in an immediate narrative style using first-hand sources from all points of view. (chosen by Rosamund)

Unruly: A History of England’s Kings and Queens by David Mitchell – BUY ONLINEAn addictively educational and hilariously-grounded study of England’s monarchs and their failings. (chosen by Jack)

O Brother by John Niven – BUY ONLINEDon’t let the tough subject matter put you off, this is a stunning memoir that is both very sad and very funny. Perfect for fans of Billy Connolly and Janice Galloway. (chosen by Rosamund)

Normal Women by Philippa Gregory – BUY ONLINEBringing women out of the margins of history into the spotlight, this incredible tome celebrates all that women do and have done across the centuries. (chosen by Sarah)

Politics on the Edge by Rory Stewart – BUY ONLINEBrutally honest account of Stewart’s time in government for good and ill. Fascinating, worrying. (chosen by Rosamund)


Falafel by Dunja Gulin – BUY ONLINEBaked, fried or raw – recipes for all occasions. The humble falafel looks great in the spotlight. Every page will make you hungry. (chosen by Vicky)

Simple Noodles by Pippa Middlehurst – BUY ONLINEA book that celebrates easy, simple cooking, without sacrificing flavour or variety. And celebrates noodles, lots and lots of noodles. (chosen by Nina)

Roast Figs, Sugar Snow by Diana Henry – BUY ONLINEA winter classic, brought back to life in a stunning new edition, plus bonus recipes. If you haven’t discovered Diana Henry, what are you waiting for? (chosen by Rosamund)

Scottish Celebrations by Gary Maclean – BUY ONLINEFrom Christmas top tips, to the Orkney Broonie and Cranachan Cheesecake, each page is a treat. (chosen by Rosamund)


Mythos: The Illustrated Story by Stephen Fry – BUY ONLINEFans of myths and Stephen Fry will be delighted by this new edition, stunningly illustrated by Jesus Sotes. (chosen by Rosamund)

Within My Branches by Nicolas Michel  BUY ONLINEThe life story of a tree told through the visitors to its branches. Moving and utterly exquisite, this is one to treasure. (chosen by Vicky)

Yoga for Stiff Birds by Marion Deuchars – BUY ONLINENeeds no explanation – a joy. (chosen by Rosamund)


The Great Storm Whale by Benji Davies – BUY ONLINEHeartwarming as always, the poignant new entry to the series with a focus on legacy. Benji Davies never misses. (chosen by Jack)

How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? by Mac Barnett, illus. Jon Klassen – BUY ONLINEBarnett and Klassen always create magic together. So many questions and so much fun. Will keep the children guessing… (chosen by Sarah)

The Duck with No Luck by Gemma Merino – BUY ONLINECan the wise Owl help Duck find his luck? The secret to contentment can be found in this adorable story. (chosen by Vicky)

The Escape by Ximo Abadía  BUY ONLINEImagine if Banksy painted fourteen monkeys driving a doubledecker bus. That’s it. Simple brilliance. (chosen by Jack)

Madame Badobedah & the Old Bones by Sophie Dahl, illus. Lauren O’Hara – BUY ONLINEDarlink! This book is a delight – a modern classic about the importance of curiosity and adventure. (chosen by Rosamund)

D is for Dog by Em Lynas, illus. Sara Ogilvie – BUY ONLINEEssential for owners of dogs and young children – an expressive delight on every page. (chosen by Rosamund)

The Squirrel and the Lost Treasure by Coralie Bickford-Smith – BUY ONLINEA stunningly presented tale of nature and growth that honours the woodlands and the beauty surrounding us. (chosen by Sarah)


Godfather Death by Sally Nicholls, illus. Júlia Sardà – BUY ONLINE

A Grimm Brothers fairy tale in an immaculately illustrated retelling. Delightfully archaic and stylised. (chosen by Jack)

The Skull by Jon Klassen – BUY ONLINESumptuously dark, with a surprising warmth on such a frostbitten night. Equal parts funny, creepy, and ominous. (chosen by Vicky)

Bear and Bird: The Stars and Other Stories by Jarvis – BUY ONLINEBear and Bird’s friendship is a delightful discovery for new readers. Simple yet utterly charming. (chosen by Sarah)


Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell – BUY ONLINEFull of wonder, magic and what it means to be human, this is a phenomonal read for both children and adults alike. (chosen by Sarah)

Safiyyah’s War by Hiba Noor Khan – BUY ONLINEBased on true events in WWII Paris, a gripping read that sheds light on the extraordinary bravery of one community in defence of another. (chosen by Rosamund)

The Final Year by Matt Goodfellow, illus. Joe Todd-Stanton – BUY ONLINEAn unputdownable emotional rollercoaster written in blank verse. I laughed, cried and consumed this all too quickly. (chosen by Vicky)

The Dark and Dangerous Gifts of Delores Mackenzie by Yvonne Banham – BUY ONLINEA gothic mystery that dives into the labyrinths buried beneath Edinburgh. Perfect for Harry Potter fans. (chosen by Jack)

The Ice Children by M. G. Leonard, illus. Penny Neville-Lee – BUY ONLINEAn essential message for the modern day wrapped up in all the magic of a fairy tale – let’s all try to save Winter. (chosen by Vicky)

In the Shadow of the Wolf Queen by Kiran Millwood Hargrave – BUY ONLINEExcitement in every chapter with redeemable villians that keep things interesting. A story of resilience and sisterhood. (chosen by Sarah)


Yours From The Tower by Sally Nicholls – BUY ONLINEA friendship so vivid you’ll want to write back. A beautiful book that made my heart happy. (chosen by Vicky)

Finding Phoebe by Gavin Extence – BUY ONLINEThe charming coming-of-age story of a Holy Island girl with autism as she begins to test her boundaries. It’s a joy. (chosen by Jack)

Unraveller by Frances Hardinge – BUY ONLINEHardinge’s unique gothic style creates a bewitching tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat. (chosen by Sarah)


Storyland by Amy Jeffs  – BUY ONLINEA medieval world awaits you in this immersive introduction to the magical legends of Britain. Forgotten and fascinating stories. Move over Greece! (chosen by Vicky)

Spies by David Long, illus. Terri Po – BUY ONLINETwenty-seven of the most courageous and daring spies of WWII. Many of these stories remain little-known to this day. (chosen by Rosamund)

How to be Your Dog’s Best Friend by Elena Bulay – BUY ONLINEPart guidebook, part memoir. Lovely illustrations, simple tips, and clear, mature messages for dog lovers of all ages. (chosen by Jack)


We will have stock of all these selections in the shop and you can order them online via our online partner If you need any more book recommendations over the festive period, do not hesitate to get in touch by emailing us or giving us a ring during opening hours (contact us). 



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