Deseret News reporters read more than news articles in 2023. They also read books.

And among the more than 70 titles sent in when I asked my colleagues to share their favorite books of 2023, there were only four repeats: “Romney: A Reckoning” (four times), “Atomic Habits” (twice), “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” (twice) and “The Midnight Library” (twice).

A majority of those who submitted their favorite book said they read nearly every day for a variety of reasons.

For example, Kelsey Dallas, an assistant managing editor, reads almost daily because it helps her “escape from my busy life and relax.”

Church News reporter Kaitlyn Bancroft also reads almost daily “to feel a broad spectrum of emotions, to stretch my mind and to explore the human condition.”

Sorted by genre, here are Deseret News staff members’ favorite books they read in the past year:

Fiction

About half of reporters’ favorite books this year were fiction, and they fell into a wide range of subgenres.

Narrative

1. “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow”

Author: Gabrielle Zevin.

Publication date: 2022.

Brittany McCready said, “The author expands the reader’s understanding of the creative process behind the making of video games while developing beautifully human characters and masterfully interweaving their stories to create an emotional ride through complex emotions and relationships.”

2. “Kitchen”

Author: Banana Yoshimoto.

Publication date: 1988.

Asia Bown described this book’s influence on her. She wrote, “Though the book is short, Yoshimoto managed to annihilate me emotionally and capture the beauty in the little parts of everyday life and relationships. Even more impressive? There are two different stories crammed into, what, 110 pages?”

3. “Les Miserables”

Author: Victor Hugo.

Publication date: 1862.

Sarah Todd reread this masterpiece for the first time since being assigned to read it in college. “It’s such a true piece of art,” she said. “There are times when the length and some of the descriptions were daunting, but the pay off for everything is so incredible.”

4. “Shark Heart”

Author: Emily Habeck.

Publication date: 2023.

Valerie Jones said, “I liked the way that (this novel) used a strange and fantastical premise — a man turning into a shark — to tackle serious, real-life issues in a really unique and beautiful way.”

Fantasy

1. “The Starless Sea”

Author: Erin Morgenstern.

Publication date: 2019.

Brooklyn Hughes Roemer said this is “a book that brings magic back to life for adults.” She continued, “Stories within stories surround the reader with tales of bees, keys, cats and ornate doors, all bound up within the revolving love story between Fate and Time.”

2. “The Midnight Library”

Author: Matt Haig.

Publication date: 2020.

Sarah Gambles described this novel as “captivating and interesting.” She continued, “The themes in the story make you ponder life and feel gratitude for your own in a way that is profound but also not preachy.”

3. “The Chalice of the Gods”

Author: Rick Riordan.

Publication date: 2023.

Ariel Harmer said this book was the perfect combination of nostalgia and new adventure. She said, “I grew up obsessed with the Percy Jackson series, and I still love rereading them from time to time. This book is a low-stakes, fun adventure with some of my favorite characters of all time, set right before they head to college. It’s not groundbreaking, but it sure is fun, especially with the original series set to be adapted into a TV show this month.”

4. “Hell Bent”

Author: Leigh Bardugo.

Publication date: 2023.

“I’m becoming convinced that Leigh Bardugo is incapable of disappointing me,” Kaitlyn Bancroft said. “Every time I think she’s reached new heights of storytelling, she outdoes herself with incredibly complex plots, tangibly complicated and thorny characters, and writing that cuts right through me with lovely, evocative imagery. I relished every page of this book and resented every time I had to put it down.”

Content warning: Strong language and exploration of difficult themes including violence and sexual assault.

Historical Fiction

1. “A Game of Hearts”

Author: Joanna L. Barker.

Publication date: 2022.

Mary Richards said, “‘A Game of Hearts’ was fun from beginning to end.” She described the plot: “Two competitive archery rivals end up falling for each other in the sweetest way as they work through a challenge together. They supported each other and their hearts changed — a wonderful message for anyone.”

2. “A Gentleman in Moscow”

Author: Amor Towles.

Publication date: 2016.

Tyler Nelson explained his enjoyment while reading this book. He said, “I’m a big Russia buff — I lived there for a while — but even I thought a book where the entire story takes place in a single hotel would be boring. Boy, was I wrong. I was enthralled by the marvelous character work from page 1.”

3. “Alias Grace”

Author: Margaret Atwood.

Publication date: 1996.

Asia Bown wrote, “Maybe I should have known this was based on a true story when I started reading it, but I didn’t realize it was until a few chapters in. Atwood really tests readers’ sense of belief and trust through her retelling of this story. By the end I felt like I had a good idea of ‘who did it,’ but nobody knows to this day, so there’s no true resolution for readers.”

“Alias Grace” was made into a Netflix series in 2017.

Science Fiction

1. “Project Hail Mary”

Author: Andy Weir.

Publication date: 2021.

Sarah Todd said this sci-fi novel pleasantly surprised her, writing, “I don’t usually read sci-fi but was so pleased with how much I cared about the characters.”

2. “Sea of Tranquility”

Author: Emily St. John Mandel.

Publication date: 2022.

This novel “takes the reader from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a dark colony on the moon three hundred years later,” and will be adapted into an HBO Max and Paramount studies series soon, according to Deadline.

Nonfiction

Since Deseret News reporters write nonfiction stories all day, it makes sense that we read a lot of it in 2023.

As Utah Jazz reporter Sarah Todd said, “I feel like the best way to be a good writer is to read good writing.”

Here are some of the best nonfiction books we read in 2023.

Autobiography/Memoirs

1. “Zion Earth Zen Sky”

Author: Charles Shirō Inouye.

Publication date: 2021.

Samuel Benson described this book as “a beautiful memoir that intersperses haiku throughout.” He added that it helped him “reflect deeply on my faith, my connection to my natural surroundings, and my role in my communities.”

2. “Surrender”

Author: Bono.

Publication date: 2022.

3. “Save Me the Plums”

Author: Ruth Reichl.

Publication date: 2019.

Michelle Budge reviewed this memoir. She wrote, “I loved the way Ms. Reichl portrayed the contrast between her life as the editor in chief at Gourmet magazine and her previous life experiences. She illustrated a great fish-out-of-water observation on the inner-workings of Gourmet from 1999 until it closed in 2009. Her struggles and her triumphs were fascinating. She made me feel like I was in the intimidating executive meetings, the test kitchens, the photo shoots and the lavish parties. She writes like a good friend would tell a story. It’s a great read.”

She added, “Pro-tip: the audio version of the book is narrated by Ms. Reichl and is lovely.”

Biography

1. “Romney: A Reckoning”

Author: McKay Coppins.

Publication date: 2023.

Benson, who worked as the lead researcher for this project, said, “Everyone has heard about the unprecedented access Romney gave Coppins — 40-plus hours of interviews, hundreds of emails and texts, hundreds of pages from his personal journals. But any conversation about this book should also include Coppins’ ability to weave a narrative that moves crisply and lands the reader squarely in our present moment: as capable moral actors in an age of political dysfunction.”

Hanna Seariac also enjoyed Romney’s biography. She wrote, “‘Romney: A Reckoning’ offered a fascinating portrayal of how Mitt Romney tried to live up to his father George Romney’s legacy while also grappling with the times where he believes he fell short. McKay Coppins’ athletic prose danced across the pages, nudging the reader toward observing both Romney’s impending legacy and his ongoing introspection.”

2. “All But My Life”

Author: Gerda Weissmann Klein.

Publication date: 1957.

Richards compared this book to “The Hiding Place” and said she could barely put it down. She said, “Once I started reading, I just wanted to finish. This incredible true story about the author’s experience during World War II also shows a strength of faith, friendship and love during the darkness.”

3. “Dying To Be Me”

Author: Anita Moorjani.

Publication date: 2012.

Budge first read this memoir of a woman’s cancer journey for a book club and described it as a “great perspective shift.” She wrote, “I loved these themes the author focused on following her near-death and return-to-life experience: a strong feeling of love that surrounded and healed her, the magnificence of each human being, and the importance and interconnectedness of every person in our life.”

“These themes helped me see my life in a more expanded way,” Budge continued. “Seeing people, even frustrating people, through the lens of magnificence is a fantastic start. I also feel challenged to try to cultivate an environment of love in my current sphere.”

Religious writing

1. “Life to the Whole Being: The Spiritual Memoir of a Literature Professor”

Author: Matthew Wickman.

Publication date: 2022.

I nominated this book for the list because, as a lover of literature, it was beautiful to see Wickman relating concepts like metaphors and literary theory to the divine. Amid deep mourning, Wickman’s memoir showed deep faith and hope. It’s a must-read for anyone looking for a shoulder to lean on while grappling with the big questions.

2. “The Return of the Prodigal Son”

Author: Henri Nouwen.

Publication date: 1991.

3. “Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life”

Author: Richard Rohr.

Publication date: 2011.

Self-help

1. “Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results”

Author: James Clear.

Publication date: 2018.

2. “Atlas of the Heart”

Author: Brené Brown.

Publication date: 2021.

“I have never understood myself better than when I read this book. It’s a deep dive into emotions research, and I learned about feelings I didn’t know existed,” Nelson said.

Politics/journalism

1. “The Right: The Hundred-year War For American Conservatism”

Brigham Tomco said this book “perfectly satisfied” all his curiosities. He explained, “I wanted to understand why the Republican Party is the way it is, the principles and philosophies undergirding conservatism, and the history of populism on the American Right. This book delved into all of those topics and more!”

Tomco added, “Simply put: if you want to understand where Trump — his rhetoric and ideology — came from, you have to read this book.”

2. “She Said”

Authors: Megan Twohey, Jodi Kantor.

Publication date: 2019.

3. “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI”

Author: David Grann.

Publication date: 2017.