A person holds up a stack of books with the words "What books did WPL staff enjoy reading in 2023?" overlaying the photo
Thursday, December 21, 2023

The end of the year brings "best of" lists for everything you could think of. We asked the Waukee Public Library staff what books they enjoyed reading in 2023. Some of them also shared books they're looking forward to reading in the new year!

What was your favorite book of 2023?







Alex, Adult Services Librarian

"Two of my favorite books this year are The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna and Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah. The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is a warm hug in book form. It's a comfort read through and through with a grumpy/sunshine romance, found family, and plenty of magic. In contrast, Chain-Gang All-Stars is an absolute gut-punch of a book. It's the type of book I know will stick with me for years to come. The audiobook is fantastic, one of the best I've ever listened to, and I highly recommend listening to this book rather than reading for the full experience."

"I'm looking forward to reading Sangu Mandanna's next book, A Witch's Guide to Magical Innkeeping, and T.J. Klune's upcoming release, Somewhere Beyond the Sea."


Amina, Public Services Assistant

"I really enjoyed The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom because it was a quick read, but included so many deep messages that made you really think about your life and the world around you. Mitch Albom always does an exceptional job of relating the story to a deeper meaning and I felt this book was especially captivating and transformative."

"When reading One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid, I felt a sort of nostalgia that's often hard to come by in some Adult Fiction. I liked that Reid utilized the intertwined storylines of the main characters to allow the reader to really get to know them personally, which made it very hard to determine who to choose as the "favorite" by the end."

"I'm looking forward to reading The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (I loved the movie!) and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara."


Eliza, Children's Librarian

"I loved the cozy language and meandering pacing of the Before the Coffee Gets Cold series by Toshikazu Kawaguchi. They keep you engaged in the intertwined stories without rushing you past nuances of scene-setting. You get time to breathe and feel like you're part of this magical environment while following a unique time-travel narrative."

"I know it's a good graphic novel when I can't decide which character will be my favorite! Clementine Fox by Leigh Luna is a great quick-read adventure story about quirky animal friends who end up on a mysterious adventure. Exciting but without veering too heavy or high-stakes, it's the graphic novel equivalent of a cozy video game."

"In 2024, I'm looking forward to reading Wandering Stars by Tommy Orange (a follow-up to his 2019 debut There, There). It's another sweeping multigenerational novel about the history and contemporary realities of Native communities. His writing is fresh, powerful, and beautiful."

Jeni, Public Services Assistant

"I chose When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill as my favorite book of 2023. In this book, thousands of women spontaneously transform into dragons in this book set in 1950s America. This strange premise sets the stage for a fascinating exploration of what happens after women in a pervasively sexist and intolerant society gain massive power and stop doing what society expects of them."

"I'm looking forward to reading Somewhere Beyond the Sea by T.J. Klune."




Judy, Public Services Associate

"The book I'm recommending to friends this year is Horse by Geraldine Brooks. It's Historical Fiction based on the record-breaking thoroughbred, Lexington. The writing moves between different time periods, and the story is told through art, science, racism, and love. I really enjoyed it because the author was able to write in a way that allowed me to form pictures in my mind of the events and locations. I'm a lover of any books about animals, especially when it accentuates people's passion for them."





Keri, Youth Services Manager

"My pick for 2023 would have to be The Lost Year by Katherine Marsh. It flashes between realistic fiction present day and historical fiction. I enjoyed it because there are family secrets revealed suspensefully and a full range of feelings and growth among members of three generations of characters."






Laura, Technical Services Manager

"Set at a snowed-in family reunion, Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson easily could've felt cliche, but it was far from it. The story is told directly from a snarky, intelligent, and playful narrator who taunts the reader with things like dead body count. The twists and turns in this Mystery book are well thought out, logical, and not easily guessed. The audiobook is a great listen."

"The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston is a love story about a ghostwriter who sees ghosts — yes, please! I expected to really like this book based on the premise alone, but the story ended up delivering so much more heart and emotion than I expected. When her beloved father dies, Florance (the main character) must return home for the first time in a decade. The way the author writes about death, family, and returning home had me thinking about this book for weeks."

"Summers at the Saint by Mary Kay Andrews is a book I'm looking forward to reading in 2024."

Lisa, Public Services Assistant

"I was intrigued by how the characters in Ling Ma's Bliss Montage handled complicated relationships in each story and loved how the author created situations that were bizarre but not unfathomable. The book is Fiction but blurs the line with elements of Magical Realism, Science Fiction, and Horror. It was enthralling!"

"I'm looking forward to reading Of Time and Turtles by Sy Montgomery next year."





Melanie, Public Services Assistant

"The contribution of women in the fight against the Axis during World War II is often overlooked or unknown. A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell tells the story of Virginia Hall, the first female spy deployed by the Allies, which was eye-opening and astonishing. Listen to the audiobook read by the talented Juliet Stevenson to enhance the riveting experience of learning how Virginia's life was definitely important."