What's Up in YA

Your Favorite YA Books of 2023: YA Book Talk, December 21, 2023

Hey YA Readers!

We’ll have one more non-deals newsletter before the end of the year, so this isn’t so much a “see you in the new year” send-off as it is a look back at all of the great reading we did this year. We’ll look ahead when we get to that final newsletter.

Are you looking for the perfect gift for that bookish special someone in your life this holiday season? Tailored Book Recommendations is here to help! Here at TBR, we pair our customers with a professional book nerd (aka bibliologist) who just gets them. They fill out a survey and then sit back and relax as we pick books just for them. We’ve got three levels — recs-only, paperback, and hardcover — and you can gift a full year or one time, so there are options for every budget! Get all the details at

Today, I’ve got your picks for favorite YA reads of the year, as well as the books you wish had gotten a little bit more love. Let’s dive right on in.

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Your Favorite 2023 YA Books

Thanks to everyone who submitted picks for their favorite YA book of 2023 and/or their pick for one they wished to get a little more attention. I’ve tallied everything up and present to you two fun, diverse lists.

Let’s begin with your favorite 2023 YA. There’s something here for every kind of reader and more; I don’t think we’ve seen these books replicated on every other best of list (to be fair, I think this year’s best of lists have been more wide-ranging than in the past, too. That’s a good thing!).

In descending order from most nominations to least, here are your top 10 favorite YA books published in 2020. Note that there were a lot of different books nominated, so “least” nominations and “most” nominations for this list do not differ much. Again, that’s a good thing and an interesting one. Lots of favorites to enjoy!

favorite books cover collage.

Check and Mate by Ali Hazelwood

Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross

Imogen, Obviously by Becky Albertalli

favorite ya books of 2023 cover collage

Throwback by Maurene Goo

Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley

Going Bicoastal by Dahlia Adler

top books 2023 ya cover collage

Manslaughter Park by Tirzah Price

Something Close to Magic by Emma Mills

cover collage of top ya books for 2023

Spell Bound by F.T. Lukens

The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White

Shouting Out “Under The Radar” 2023 YA

Sometimes, people leave comments or thoughts with their votes. It’s not required, but when it’s in there, I do read it (shout out to those of you who said your favorite read of 2023 wasn’t published in 2023—I see you!). One of the comments that stood out to me came from someone who nominated their own book. In most cases, I don’t like self-nominations since they can and have been abused in the past. But in this case, the nominator brought up that thanks to the HarperCollins strike, their book and many others, which were published early in 2023, didn’t get the social love they may have otherwise received. This isn’t a complaint about the strike but rather that the response to hold off on reviews, etc., worked, but it might have meant some of the mid-list titles may have been missed a little more this year.

Of course, that writer’s book has been popped in here and for an additional reason: they alone weren’t the only nominators of it.

I don’t want to limit this list to 10. Y’all nominated so many good books, and there’s no reason to stop there. Here are 15 of the books you read and hoped would get a little more love this year. I did remove the titles that hit The New York Times Bestseller list and/or major book awards this year, but otherwise, it’s all you!

This list is alphabetized rather than in any ranking order. There were several books nominated for this list, which landed on the favorites list, too.

underrated books cover collage

All That Shines by Ellen Hagan

An Appetite for Miracles by Laekan Zea Kemp

Bianca Torre is Afraid of Everything by Justine Pucella Winans

The Blood Years by Elana K. Arnold

Dear Medusa by Olivia A. Cole

Forty Words for Love by Aisha Saeed 

2023 underrated ya books cover collage.

My Dear Henry: a Jekyll & Hyde Remix by Kalynn Bayron

One Last Shot by Kip Wilson

Only This Beautiful Moment by Abdi Nazemian

Something More by Jackie Khalilieh 

Thieves’ Gambit by Kayvion Lewis

Unholy Terrors by Lyndall Clipstone

ya books deserving of more attention cover collage

What Stalks Among Us by Sarah Hollowell

Wolfwood by Marianna Baer

Your Plantation Prom is Not Okay by Kelly McWilliams

Yay! I hope you’ve added some books to your TBR. Even as someone who lives and breathes YA books, some of these were a surprise to me (or a reminder of how 2023 has had a LOT of good books).

As always, thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you again for deals on Saturday.

There will be no newsletter on Monday for the holiday.

Until later, happy reading!

–Kelly Jensen, currently reading and loving A Suffragist’s Guide to the Antarctic by Yi Shun Lai