Best Books of 2023

With unnerving rapidity, books are on their way to becoming a countercultural medium—one whose insistence on focus and complexity, on the slow building of story and argument, stands against so much else that daily assaults our eyes and ears. At The Atlantic, we hold on tight to books because of the unique space they offer for ideas to roam. When we established the Atlantic 10 last year, our aim was to recognize titles that compelled us to keep reading at the same time that they made us pause and consider unexpected thoughts. Once again, we’ve sought out work that allows us to stand at arm’s length from the world, seeing its patterns—its wonders and its horrors—and giving us the distance to imagine new possibilities.
This year’s selections include a narratively ingenious novel about the human cost of colonialism, a collection of inventive couplets about what it means to be a couple, a probing history of the American dream, and two radically different memoirs of growing up, one a vivid story of encroaching mental illness, the other of intensifying religious zealotry. We were drawn to ambitious projects, and looked for writing that was clear and beautiful. Most important, we searched for books that you won’t be able to put down.
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