Barnes & Noble Announces 12 Finalists for Their 2023 Book of the Year

Press Release

The list includes debut authors and literary darlings from a range of genres

 New York, NY – November 3, 2023 – Barnes & Noble is pleased to announce the 12 finalists for their 2023 Book of the Year. The program, now in its fifth year, asks B&N booksellers across the country to nominate a title they find truly outstanding and in which they have felt the most pride in recommending to readers over the previous year. This year, the list features six novels, four nonfiction books, one middle-grade title and one picture book. The Barnes & Noble Book of the Year will be voted on by all booksellers and announced the week of November 17th.

“From a wealth of excellent new books published this year, our booksellers have again voted for an impressive spread of finalists for the 2023 Barnes & Noble Book of the Year,” said James Daunt, CEO, Barnes & Noble. “It is an exciting time to be a bookseller, with bookstore sales never stronger, buoyed by a reading renaissance. Our annual Book of the Year is a particularly happy celebration of this wonderful year of publishing.”

The first Barnes & Noble Book of the Year was awarded to Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, where bookseller enthusiasm propelled it onto bestseller lists. In 2020, booksellers were in awe of the axolotls featured in World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments and shone a much-deserved literary spotlight onto Aimee Nezhukumatathil. The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present  by Paul McCartney, went on to be a holiday bestseller after being announced as the 2021 Barnes & Noble Book of the Year. The 2022 Book of the Year, Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, continues to top sales charts and has recently been adapted as an Apple Original Series.

“Our booksellers have nominated a shortlist that is thoughtful, exciting and eclectic in nature,” said Shannon DeVito, Senior Director of Books, Barnes & Noble.  “The final 12 that comprise this year’s collection reflect the reading habits we have seen in bookselling throughout the country — from gorgeous novels and history deep dives to romantasy catnip and award-winning authors. These stories are a wonderfully varied mix deserving of the enthusiasm of readers everywhere.”

The 2023 Book of the Year Finalists, as selected by Barnes & Noble booksellers are:

  • The Puppets of Spelhorst by Kate DiCamillo, Julie Morstad (Illustrator) – “It’s not often that I consider a new release to be an instant classic, but Kate DiCamillo’s latest modern fairytale is totally worthy of that distinction. The Puppets of Spelhorst is deserving of a cherished spot on bookshelves for years to come.” Steph P., Baltimore, MD

  • The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder by David Grann– “Once again David Grann’s exquisite storytelling truly kept me hooked from start to finish, reading well beyond any reasonable bedtime! A finely detailed, ferociously raucous tale of high seas, murder, madness, intrigue and treachery bursting forth with a passionate and irresistible exuberance.” — Sallye L., New York, NY

  • The Story of Art Without Men by Katy Hessel – “This book literally blew my mind. I’ve read a lot of art history but never have encountered a text that made me laugh and cry countless times. Katy Hessel did a phenomenal job with this.” — Allie L., Aliso Viejo, CA

  • Yellowface by R.F. Kuang– “Proving she can do it all, R.F. Kuang has written a bracing satire that interrogates the rampant white privilege and cultural appropriation within the publishing industry. Immersive and biting, this is not for the faint of heart.” — Josh S., St. Louis, MO

  • The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride – “James McBride has written a gorgeous story, a murder mystery laced into a community of such grit and heroism that you live this novel rather than just read it, every last page of it.” — Ashleigh D., Cleveland, OH

  • Zilot & Other Important Rhymes by Bob Odenkirk, Erin Odenkirk (Illustrator) – “Who couldn’t benefit from some well-crafted, whimsical, chuckle-inducing rhymes? The Odenkirk Family has gifted us all some much needed laughs.” — Scott B., Denver, CO
  • Chili Crisp: 50+ Recipes to Satisfy Your Spicy, Crunchy, Garlicky Cravings by James Park – “This visually stunning cookbook is a love letter to all enthusiasts as well as the chili crisp curious. James Park's passion and joy for this versatile condiment is infused into every recipe. It's the perfect foodie cookbook.” Kathleen C., Brooklyn, NY 

  • The Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters – “A debut that knocked my socks off. What starts as a narrative about a missing indigenous girl becomes an unforgettable meditation on how trauma ripples throughout families, and how maintaining hope in the face of devastation is ultimately an act of love.” – Lexie S., Alexandria, VA 

  • Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross – “This sweeping enemies-to-lovers, historical-fiction-meets-fantasy tale is as immersive as it is original. You’ve Got Mail set against the backdrop of a war among the gods? Sign me up.” — Alex H., Charlotte, NC

  • The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin – “The Creative Act houses Rick Rubin’s considerable wisdom in a beautifully designed package. It has all the magic ingredients to make an instant self-help classic.” Alisa S., Pennsburg, PA

  • Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward – “Let’s just say that there is a reason Jesmyn Ward is a two-time National Book Award winner. With echoes of Dante’s Inferno, Let Us Descend weaves a narrative of beauty and resilience in the face of the worst humanity has to offer.” Brenda A., Bentonville, AR

  • Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros – “This spellbinding fantasy has everything — dark academia vibes, epic world-building, enemies to lovers, heart-racing action and dragons! This is a book you devour; one you stay up all night reading and spend all day thinking about.” Kimmy K., Long Island, NY


The booksellers of Barnes & Noble went beyond the standard year-end round-up, creating dozens of 3-book lists containing the bests books published in 2023. Categories range from the expected — Best Literary Novels, Favorite Historical Fiction; to the decidedly unexpected — The Best Fantasy for Botany Enthusiasts, The Best Books to Live Long and Prosper, and Best Books for Sad Girl Fall among many more. Readers can find all these unique, wide-ranging and expertly curated lists on

The Book of the Year is the culmination of an incredible roster of programs that identify and elevate the best of the best. This annual celebration joins the bookseller’s Book Clubs, Discover Prize, Children’s & YA Book Awards, Monthly Picks, and Game of the Year.

Customers can find the Book of the Year Finalists at their local Barnes & Noble and at  They can also join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, using the hashtag #BNBoTY.

All Contacts

Shannon DeVito

Senior Director, Book Strategy & Customer Experience

Barnes & Noble, Inc.

About Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble, Inc. is the largest retail bookseller in the United States. The Company has approximately 600 bookstores across the United States, as well as its online bookstore at, the Nook Digital business which offers both e-books and an audio book subscriptions service, the SparkNotes educational service, stationery and gift retailer Paper Source, and the publisher Union Square & Co. General information on Barnes & Noble, Inc. can be found on the Company's website at