Bookstr Team Dishes Best Albums and Novels in 2023

2024 is coming up close! But before we say goodbye to 2023, let’s look back on our top albums and novels.

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Image showing a cup of coffee on top of some books with headphones around the book.

2023 is wrapping up as we slowly approach the end of December. Though it can be difficult to accept another year is drawing its curtains, I love to look back at the year’s progression. What did I love doing? What did I hate? Did I finish my New Year’s resolutions, or will I add them to my 2024 to-do list? There is one thing I always look forward to…my Spotify Wrapped! Who doesn’t love seeing your top songs of the year? I especially love hearing my friend’s top songs and comparing my list to theirs. So, why not hear ours? Here are the Bookstr Teams 2023 top albums and books. Let us know if you see any of your top choices! Maybe you will see some of our music taste sounds like some of our top book choices…

Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid and Sonder by The Wrecks

My favorite book of the year was Carrie Soto Is Back. I enjoyed Carrie Soto Is Back because of the way I was able to connect with the main character, Carrie. This book took me through the whole spectrum of emotions, from happiness to devastation to anger, which is a sign of how immersed I was in the story. My favorite album of the year was Sonder. I loved this album because its punchy, angst-filled lyrics are perfect to belt out in the shower or on a long drive with your friends.

Covers of Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid, showing a woman looking up in the sky, and the second cover of The Wrecks album Sonder, showing a group of people staring away into a red light.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSTR / ERIN EWALD

There are quite a few thematic parallels between Carrie Soto Is Back and Sonder. For example, the tenth track on the album, entitled Normal, captures Carrie’s feeling of disconnect from the people around her. She doesn’t feel understood by others, and she finds it difficult to conform to society’s expectations of how she should behave and present herself. Likewise, the tracks Dystopia and Ugly Side are reminiscent of Carrie and Bowe’s rocky romance, and the track Unholy expresses Carrie’s vengeful energy as she fights to get her title back and prove the people who doubt her wrong. I didn’t expect these two to pair so well together, but listening to Sonder really enhanced my reading experience of Carrie Soto Is Back!

  • Lauren Nee, Editorial

No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai and Kiss of Life by Kiss of Life

My favorite book this year was No Longer Human. I have read it once before but decided to reread it so I could refresh my memory and remember what happened in the book. It is a really powerful yet dark book that explores the author’s life and all the hardships he encountered from an early age. This book really keeps you rooting for the main character and hoping that something will finally go right in his life. Once you finish the book it keeps you wondering what happened to the author and his family, and makes you think about culture and social norms in Japan.

Front covers of No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai, showing a faceless being, and the other cover, Kisses of life, showing four women with fabulous outfits posing for the camera.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSTR / ERIN EWALD

My favorite album this year was Kiss of Life by the kpop group Kiss of Life. It is their debut album, but is quite impressive. There are so many different vibes with each song, and gives two group songs as well as four different solo songs that offer a chance for each member to display their skills.

There are almost similarities between the two, unfortunately. No Longer Human displays the dark side of life and struggles with mental illness, while Kiss of Life is more of a celebration of life and just being yourself. I really do like the two different tones these pieces provide so I can jump between being sad and happy. Overall, both of these pieces are perfect if you need something serious to read with provocative feelings or if you want something fun and upbeat to listen to with different genres in one album.

  • Alya Giavis, Graphics

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo and Black Anima by Lacuna Coil

The thing about Six of Crows as a book is that it is quite dark and has somewhat of a gothic feel to it. Reading it for the first time this year, I got into it fairly quickly and easily. It has pretty much everything I love in a book, especially scenery and characterization. These are what grabbed me the most, along with the elements of magic, deceit, scheming, and misdirection. The aesthetics also really capture the mood of the book perfectly.

Two front covers, the first being Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, showing a Crow and its feathers meshing into a town, and the second cover being Black Anima by Lacuna Coil, showing a medieval looking coin with a dragon on the front.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSHOP/SPOTIFY/ERINONCANVA

This brings me to Black Anima by Lacuna Coil, which was released in 2019, but I still play the hell out of it currently. As a gothic metal band that has been around since the 90’s, they’re music is quite atmospheric in tone, and it’s darkly beautiful, especially in this album. The singers are a woman with clean vocals and a male with both clean and growling vocals. The tone of their music is somber and heartbreaking, and this, I think, makes both book and album seem similar. For all of the dark, mystical, weird metal lovers, Six of Crows is an amazing read, and Black Anima is an amazing album to get into.

  • Quiarah B/Vphan, Editorial

Golden by JungKook and Chalice of the Gods by Rick Riordan

One of my favorite artists, JungKook, released his debut album a few months ago. It’s upbeat, classy, and has many great dance breaks. I’ve always been a huge fan of JungKook, so when he released his solo album, I flipped and listened to it the moment it came out (which was at midnight). It definitely doesn’t disappoint, and people who enjoy upbeat pop music will probably enjoy this album!

Two front covers, the first being Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan, showing a trophy cup with birds and a snake coming out of the top. The second Cover being Golden by Jung Kook, showing a man dressed in a slick suit posing for the camera.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSTR / ERIN EWALD

As for Chalice of the Gods, I had been waiting for years for a new Percy Jackson and the Olympians title. The original trio, Annabeth, Percy, and Grover, were always my favorites out of all of Riordan’s series. It’s funny, witty, full of Greek mythology, and gives that taste of nostalgia I had been missing since I read the first series so long ago.

Other than touching on relationships, the two don’t have much in terms of similarities. They’re both upbeat, but honestly, outside of that, they aren’t all that close. They’re both great, though, and I would recommend them to anyone.

  • Alexandra Mellott, Editorial

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy, and No Thank You by Lil Simz

Jennette McCurdy’s I’m Glad My Mom Died was a big part of my 2023 reading list. Jennette was my child star icon growing up, so I was super excited when it was released. I never got around to reading it until January of this year, and it has stuck with me since. It was a very tear-jerking read. I rarely cry from books anymore, but hearing Jennette’s past struggles, all while she was my idol growing up, just broke me. It can be difficult to hear about people’s past troubles, but something about Jennette’s story has made a change in my everyday life.

Front cover of Jennette McCurdy's I'm Glad my Mom Died, showing a woman holding a pink columbarium and smiling at the camera. Second cover showing Lil Simz's NO THANK YOU album, showing a woman with speaker holes behind her, as she looks in the camera with a serious face.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSTR / ERIN EWALD

Lil Simz has been my favorite artist for years now, so when she released NO THANK YOU, I was beyond excited to obsess. Though I loved this album last year, it was especially important to me this year because I was lucky enough to see the NO THANK YOU tour in September! Lil Simz smashed her performance as always, and after the concert, I couldn’t stop listening to the album. I will never get enough of Lil Simz and her talent. If you haven’t given her music a listen, DO IT! She will change your life like she did mine!

  • Erin Ewald, Editorial

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