My favorite books of 2023

It’s that time of year when book enthusiasts everywhere humblebrag about the books we enjoyed! I am, of course, no exception to this, with this being my thirteenth annual compilation.

As always, my reading spans genres and mediums, so this list does not represent a single focus. Some were published before 2023. Even so, I think they’re pretty rad. So, without further ado, here are my favorite books of 2023—or at least the ones that most stuck with me.

Faith, Formation, & Spiritual Memoirs

Faith, Hope, and Carnage by Nick Cave and Sean O’Hagan

This might seem like an odd book to include in this category since it is by no means a Christian book, nor is it reflecting on a Christian’s experiences. But it is a spiritual memoir nonetheless—an exploration of grief, faith, hope, and a man genuinely fascinated by Jesus, the Scriptures, and the value of belief. (You can get all my thoughts on this book on Your Next Favorite Book.)

All My Knotted-Up Life by Beth Moore

Having experienced so much heartbreak and hardship throughout her life—some of it unimaginably horrific—it’s a wonder Beth Moore is as joyful as she is. In this memoir, she candidly opens up about the trials and joys of her life and ministry, and invites us all to reflect on God’s faithfulness, not just in her life, but in ours.

Belong by Barnabas Piper

I’ve been friends with Barnabas for a long time now, so it’s always feels a bit awkward putting a book by a friend. But how could I not with this one? This is a book that is all about a topic that is extremely important to all of us in any kind of ministry: what does it mean to belong in the church—and how do we cultivate a culture where people really do feel like they belong. What this book reminds readers of is that this is not one-and-done work, as though you can develop a campaign or a mission statement and consider the mission accomplished. Instead, it is the day-in, day-out work of living as though the gospel is true, working through hurt and finding hope in Jesus together.

Fiction and Books with Pictures

Love Everlasting by Tom King and Elsa Charretier.

This book was a surprise treat for me. King and Charretier have crafted a clever story playing on the tropes of the romance comics of the 1950s to do something unexpected, bizarre, and delightful. (I cannot say anymore than this lest I spoil the entire thing.) If you’re curious about graphic novels and aren’t into superheroes, this is a good one to try out.

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kruger

It’s not his latest book (which is still sitting in my to-be-read pile) but it’s one of his most beautifully written. Told from the perspective of Frank Drum, the lead character, reflecting on the events of a tragic summer forty years earlier, this is as much a coming-of-age tale for Frank as it is a murder mystery set in a small town in 1961. Throughout Kruger weaves questions about faith, doubt, and hope, as Frank’s life is torn apart and his family struggles pick up the pieces.

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens is easily in my all-time-top-five favorite writers. But David Copperfield is one that I hadn’t managed to get to until this year. This was Dickens’ personal favorite of his own work, a quasi-autobiographical tale that follows its young protagonist from his unhappy childhood to finally finding fulfillment as a successful novelist. Equal parts humorous, heartbreaking, and hopeful, it is one I look forward to returning to again in the years ahead.

Culture and Current Affairs

The Evangelical Imagination by Karen Swallow Prior

There have been a number of cultural critiques of evangelicalism released in 2023, and many more will follow in the months and years ahead. This is, largely, because evangelicalism as a movement is in crisis—theologically, philosophically, and practically. How did we get here, and what do we actually understand ourselves to be? In this book, Karen Swallow Prior examines evangelicalism and its values through the lens of its literature, art, and pop culture. Prior’s exploration helps us to see how much of what we value is distinctly Christian and how much of what we think is Christian is actually cultural. This is a challenging read, but it’s one that deserves all of our time and consideration.

Losing our Religion by Russell Moore.

Russell Moore’s latest offers a scathing indictment of evangelicalism for abandoning its first love (Revelation 2:4). For sacrificing integrity, credibility, and fidelity to Jesus on the altar of power. But this book isn’t merely an indictment. It is a call toward a healthier way forward, one that refuses to keep playing according to the world’s rules. That pursues the good of all and rejects the idea of having to choose between two evils. And, most importantly, that believes what the Bible says about the importance of character—especiallly when it’s inconvenient and costly.

The Great Dechurching by Jim Davis and Michael Graham

As there is with all societal shifts, there has been much handwringing about the so-called rise of the Nones, and the rapid decrease in church affiliation within the United States. This is the ever increasing group of individuals who report no religious affiliation on censuses. But we know surprisingly little about this group from a quantifiable perspective. So the authors of this book set out to change that, commissioning a first-of-its-kind study to understand this group, their beliefs, why they may have left organized Christianity, and what it might take to bring them back.

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

This is a book that probably shouldn’t exist, and if it weren’t written by Nick Hornby, almost certainly wouldn’t. But Hornby makes it work as he considers the parallels between two highly prolific creators separated by more than a century in order to explore creativity, discipline, and what it takes to make great art. (You can get more of my thoughts on this book in this episode of Your Next Favorite Book.)

My favorites from previous years



Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books for adults and children, as well as multiple documentaries and Bible studies. His latest book, I'm a Christian—Now What?: A Guide to Your New Life with Christ is available now.