The King County Library System’s (KCLS) highly anticipated annual Best Books of 2023 list has arrived! Here are a few of KCLS’ favorite titles from 2023, chosen by staff from across the Library System. Find your Best Book at kcls.org/bestbooks.
Best books: Adult fiction
Biography of X by Catherine Lacey
Staff: Benjamin, operations manager
Catherine Lacey’s fictional biography is exceptionally crafted with rich layers and deep, complex themes. In it, a widow sets out to write a biography of her recently deceased wife, who was a legendary artist, author and enigma. Her research uncovers a cascade of dark secrets, haunting betrayals and thrilling twists in this literary hall of mirrors.
What You Are Looking For Is in the Library by Michiko Aoyama
Staff: Jenna, adult services librarian
Michiko Aoyama’s gentle, contemplative and hopeful read follows a group of interconnected characters and a unique librarian who gives each person a reading recommendation and the gift of new perspective. Patrons use her good advice to find the strength within themselves to move forward and realize their full potential.
Best books: adult nonfiction
Poverty, by America by Matthew Desmond
Staff: Heather, assistant operations manager
This thought provoking and informative look at poverty in America asks why one of the richest countries in the world has more poverty than any other advanced democracy. Pulitzer Prize-winning author and sociologist Matthew Desmond offers answers and solutions, and calls for all of us to become “poverty abolitionists.”
Baking Yesteryear by B. Dylan Hollis
Staff: Angie, director of library outreach, programs and services
B. Dylan Hollis, the popular social media personality, showcases forgotten baking recipes from the 1900s to the 1980s in this delightful cookbook. Part history and part culinary dare, I thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining look at food history.
Best books: children
Once Upon a Book by Grace Lin and Kate Messner
Staff: Angie, interim executive director
Celebrate the joy of reading and the power of imagination in this inviting and enchanting collaboration between award-winning authors Lin and Messner. Readers follow Alice as she is swept away to an immersive world of wonder and adventure in the pages of her favorite book.
Woo Hoo! You’re Doing Great! By Sandra Boynton
Staff: Nancy, collection development manager
The overenthusiastic chicken in this charming and amusing book about self-esteem will cheer you on through life’s ups and downs. Children and adults alike can learn to celebrate themselves and find joy in trying their best.
Best books: teen
Darkhearts by James L. Sutter
Staff: Chad, public services assistant
David quit his high school rock band — then they became famous. After a former bandmate dies, David reconnects with one of the remaining bandmates. As the two frenemies work through their loss and old wounds, they realize they have feelings for each other. Kudos to local author and former KCLS library page James L. Sutter for this hilarious enemies-to-lovers rom-com with lots of “boy” humor.
The Stolen Heir by Holly Black
Staff: Jennifer, cataloging librarian
“The Stolen Heir” is a perfect example of what I think of as the “scary fairy” genre. I love how bestselling author Holly Black combines gritty world-building and complex character relationships with ruthless violence and terrifying magic. Don’t miss this page-turner!
Best books: audiobook
Murder Your Employer by Rupert Holmes
Staff: Tracey, director of collection management services
This fiendishly funny book is read by actors Neil Patrick Harris and Simon Vance. It takes the act of homicide and elevates it to an academic art form. Let’s just say that failure at The McMasters Conservatory has dire consequences.
The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass
Staff: Teresa, division administrative assistant
“The Lost Library” is a charming middle-grade adventure starring a variety of fantastical characters, like Mortimer, a polydactyl orange cat, Al, a ghost librarian and Evan, a very inquisitive fifth-grader. Evan stumbles upon a Little Free Library that appears overnight in his small town and selects two books, not at all aware of the escapades they would send him on. The audiobook has a cast of narrators that rotates throughout the story, making this a fun and easy-to-follow tale for the whole family!