A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

The Best Books of 2023 (According to SAL Staff & Board)

This holiday season, we asked our staff and board the real question: what’s the best book you read in 2023? If you’re looking for which to books to cozy up with this winter, look no further than this list! 

Jennifer Lobsenz, Youth Programs Director

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century by Kim Fu

Talk about not knowing what is coming next! Kim Fu’s stories are fascinating, wacky, beautiful. They punched me in the gut (in a glorious way) and gifted me so much to think about.

Emmy Newman, Public Programs Associate

Biography of X by Catherine Lacey

There were chapters where it felt like I stopped blinking I was so enthralled with this novel. The holographic blending of history and fiction feels achingly close to loving someone and still finding them unknowable, a constant questioning and a wonderment.

Alison Stagner, Director of Events & Outreach 

Crossings: How Road Ecology is Shaping the Future of Our Planet by Ben Goldfarb

I never dreamed I’d read a book about road kill, but here we are! I learned so much from Goldfarb about how roads are impacting nonhuman lives by disrupting habitats and migration patterns, and killing animals, and how we can build—and imagine—differently through road ecology.

Camille Hermida-Fuentes, Administrative Associate

The Guest by Emma Cline

The subversive beach read. I know it was a favorite this year and for good reason! I love Cline’s imagery–so unique, eerie, and exact. And she crafts the setting of the Hamptons in a way that at once draws you in but doesn’t let you get too comfortable, just as the unreliable narrator is an outsider in that world.

Rebecca Hoogs, Executive Director

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Every sentence offered me a new way to experience the possibilities of language, while the story offered me a a way to experience what it’s like to be from Appalachia, what it’s like inside the opioid crisis, and how rural communities perceive and are perceived. One of the best books I’ve ever had the privilege to read.

Indira Dahlstrom, Youth Programs Associate

Land of Milk and Honey by C Pam Zhang

I loved all the food writing in this near-apocalyptic novel that explores who has access to pleasure. Fun fact, C Pam Zhang wrote this book while living in the Seattle area.

Grace Rajendran, Marketing Manager

What an Owl Knows: The New Science of the World’s Most Enigmatic Birds by Jennifer Ackerman.

Letitia Cain, Patron Services Associate

How Far the Light Reaches by Sabrina Imbler

Loved the mix of memoir and science, deep-sea creatures mixed with family tales—Imbler weaves stories with sea creatures that educate, entertain, and illuminate. And any book that has an octopus is worth a read!

Chuck Stempler, Board Member

Conflict: The Evolution of Warfare from 1945 to Ukraine by Gen. David Petraeus and Andrew Roberts. The evolution of how conflicts (war) are prosecuted and a forecast of future developments.

Tabula Rasa by John McPhee. Brief pieces decribing projects never completed or ideas not started—from a living legend.

Karen Maeda Allman, Board Member

The Boy and the Dog by Seishu Hase, translated from the Japanese by Alison Watts

A dog searching for his original family connects with people rebuilding their lives after the 311 tsunami in Japan. We have limited understanding about dogs and their feelings toward their people, but I hope there’s some truth in what this author has imagined.

Posted in SAL Staff/Board2023/24 Season