Isaac’s Top Reads of 2023
Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Chain-Gang All-Stars is a kaleidoscopic, excoriating look at the American prison system’s unholy alliance of systemic racism, unchecked capitalism, and mass incarceration, and a clear-eyed reckoning with what freedom in this country really means.
Symphony of Secrets by Brendan Slocumb
When he is asked to authenticate a newly discovered piece from famed 20th-century composer Frederick Delaney, Bern Hendricks uncovers clues that indicate Delaney may have had help composing his most successful work, which makes him a target of a powerful organization that will stop at nothing to keep its secret hidden.
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
The Sympathizer is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal. The narrator, a communist double agent, is a “man of two minds,” a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who arranges to come to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles is secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam. The Sympathizer is a blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping espionage novel, and a powerful story of love and friendship.
The Kingdom of Sweets by Erika Johansen
Cursed to live in her sister Clara’s shadow, Natasha gets her chance at revenge when an enchanted Nutcracker offers entry into a deceptively beautiful world where she uncovers her dark destiny and, reckoning with forces both earthly and magical, must decide to which world she truly belongs.
Alice Sadie Celine by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright
Agreeing to see her adult daughter’s best friend in a community theatre production, a professor of women’s and gender studies becomes entranced with her in the new novel by the New York Times best-selling author of Red Riding Hood.
The Mystery Guest by Nita Prose
When a world-renowned mystery author drops dead, Molly Gray, the esteemed Head Maid of the 5-star Regency Grand Hotel, must solve the case, which not only threatens the hotel’s pristine reputation but may be linked to her own past.
A 1930s professor uncovers the story of a young woman who disguised herself as a cabin boy in the crew of a notorious 18th century pirate to hunt down a treasure and decides to continue her quest.
There Should Have Been Eight by Nalini Singh
Gathering at their late friend Bea’s family estate in New Zealand’s Southern Alps for a reunion, a group of friends are plagued by long-buried grief, bitterness and rage, revealing that Bea’s shocking death wasn’t what it was claimed to be—and that the truth will finally be unleashed no matter the cost.
Sailing the Graveyard Sea: The Deathly Voyage of the Somers, the U.S. Navy’s Only Mutiny, and the Trial That Gripped the Nation by Richard Snow
Part murder mystery, part courtroom drama, this gripping true account of the only mutiny in U.S. Navy history follows Commander Alexander Slidell Mackenzie who, while leading a training cruise, ended the lives of three innocent young men and was put on trial for his own life.
So Late in the Day: Stories of Women and Men by Claire Keegan
Collects three of the Booker Prize Finalist’s exquisite storeis, newly revised and expanded, that each explore the dynamics that corrupt what could be between women and men: a lack of generosity, the weight of expectation and the looming threat of violence.
Day by Michael Cunningham
An already-troubled married couple, Isabel and Dan, both become obsessed within Isabel’s younger brother and must deal with the challenges and changes wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic, in a new novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours.
The New Naturals by Gabriel Bump
After losing their child, a husband and wife construct a separate society, where everyone can feel loved and wanted, but when others hear about the place and want in, it doesn’t take long for problems to develop, for conflicts to surface, and for the children to crave life beyond this place.