Shepherd’s Book Recommendations, 2023


Lost in a sea of words, looking for a good book?

How many times have I bought or borrowed a book I thought was going to be really good, but a few pages in, I find myself disappointed. Not worth the hype. Did not live up to its title and premise. I gave up on bestseller lists and publishers’ advertisements.

Each year the Big Publishers choose a handful to to push down our throats. They pick the titles they think will appeal to a large set of buyers, and then they promote them heavily. Authors in the same Big Houses pimp each others books while other titles remain undiscovered, buried in the back list.

How do I even hear about these other titles? Books from independent publishers and University presses. Gems buried in the graveyard of not-best-sellers but worthy reads. Or the “also ran” titles of the big publishers that I might have missed because they didn’t come across my social media feed.

I go into an indie brick-and-mortar bookstore and I am hit with these same touted chosen titles the Big Publishers are selling. Show me something you have read and recommend for me.

One resource I like is Foreword Reviews, a publication devoted to books published by independent and University presses. They’ve been around for 25 years and are a great, if underused, resource for librarians and booksellers.

Lately, I’m excited about the Book Shepherd.  Ben Shepherd’s website gives access to a large number of books recommended by writers and book lovers and cross-referenced by subject, author, and title. It keeps growing all the time. Browsing the unique, independent website is like browsing a bookstore with subjective recommendations from authors and super-readers.

Recently, authors writing in a wide variety of genres submitted their three favorite books they read this year (2023).  To be sure, many of their 2023 favorites are published by Big Pubs not small presses. Yet these are personal recommendations by people who love to read and write. People like me.

We aren’t paid to share our recommendations. What we gain by sharing our favorite books is an increased awareness of our own published titles.  And book recommendations from other writers and book lovers!

Here is the link to the list of our favorite books we read in 2023. I invite you to go down the rabbit hole and explore:

Shepherd – Browse the best books of 2023