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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Jefferson chapter.

We are officially ten months into 2023, which means it’s crunch time for those of us who set reading goals for the end of the year. Even though I have enough on my plate with just classes, I like to set high reading goals for myself every year. It definitely doesn’t help that I work at a bookstore and can get books for a considerable discount. I compiled a hefty TBR (to be read list, for anyone who is not well versed in book lingo) of at least 30 books at home, but only have read 15 this year. I read some good ones, a few not so good, and a few absolutely amazing novels. I am mostly a romance and fantasy reader (romantasy if you will), so if you don’t like those two genres, you might not agree with everything on my list. Here are my five star reads of 2023 so far, in no particular order:

  1. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

This book sold out at my store a couple days after it was released. Every time we ordered more in, the same thing would happen and the publisher ran out of printed copies! This book took the world by storm, so I just had to get my hands on a copy. I was skeptical at first, but I finished it in two days. I love a strong female lead, and Violet Sorrengail is just that. She’s a feisty woman who won’t let any man (or her own mother) stand in her way of becoming a dragon rider. She has to go through perilous Divergent-esque trials to graduate from the war college and get selected by a dragon, which is arguably the coolest part in the book. Xaden Riorson, a man who hates Violet and everything she stands for, is the broody, dark haired male lead almost every girl falls for. Not only is the romance sweet and steamy, but the world building and magical plot will keep you on your toes until the very end. This is a great introduction to fantasy if you’re someone who likes romance. 

  1. Icebreaker by Hannah Grace

Anastasia Allen wants to become an olympic figure skater. The only thing that’s stopping her is the fact that she has to share a rink with the hockey team, whose captain can’t seem to stay away… you can probably tell where this is going. Stassie and Nate’s romance is adorable, and Grace depicts a multitude of mental health disorders beautifully. I went into this book thinking it would be a cheesy sports romance, but it showed the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people and finding ways that you can support yourself. If you enjoy some spicy romance but like there to be a deeper plot to it, this one is great. This book taught me that it’s okay to ask for help and stand up for myself, even when I’m scared to do so.

  1. The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave: 

Now an Apple TV series, this fast-paced thriller will leave you guessing until the very end. I tried to figure out what was going on as I was reading, but at every guess the story took a turn I was never expecting. Owen Michaels left a pile of cash with his wife, Hannah, and daughter from a previous marriage, Bailey, and disappeared without a trace. Hannah has to pick up the pieces and try to develop a very rocky relationship with her stepdaughter while going on her own hunt to discover what he’s truly hiding. Each chapter is short and full of action, and it tells a beautiful story about building relationships in tragedy. I don’t read many thrillers, but this one captivated me from start to finish.

  1. Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood: 

Any time Hazelwood comes out with a new book, I automatically buy it without even knowing anything about it. She writes STEM romances with a smart and strong female lead every time. Elsie is a theoretical physicist by day, fake girlfriend by night. Things get interesting when her newest fake boyfriend’s brother turns out to be the one interviewing her for a tenure-track teaching position at an esteemed university. Ensue jealousy, secrets, self-reflection, and a slow burn. This one’s a deep dive into people’s pleasing tendencies and how we use assumptions about others to feed into our own insecurities. Don’t worry, there’s a happy ending!

  1. Alias Emma by Ava Glass: 

Another fast-paced thriller. Emma is a secret intelligence agent in London, and her mission is to get an important man across the city without anybody seeing – not the cameras, not the police, and definitely not the scary Russian men who will do anything to get their hands on him. Emma’s character is beautifully written and is a great tribute to female empowerment in male-dominated settings. This one made me want to laugh and cry at parts with the contrast of witty banter and the sheer gravity of the operation.

Emily Philippi

Jefferson '26

My name is Emily and I'm currently a pre-med student at Thomas Jefferson University. In my free time I love to read, work out, go on hikes, and spend time with my two cats!