In 2023, 144,666 adult books and e-Books circulated at the Howell Carnegie Library. Back in March, we narrowed that list to the top 16 books of 2023 for our annual March Book Madness competition. The winning book was Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. Explore the list below for the full list of the top 16 books of 2023!

Lessons in Chemistry : a Novel by Bonnie Garmus

Call# Fiction Garmus

"Set in 1960s California, this blockbuster debut is the hilarious, idiosyncratic and uplifting story of a female scientist whose career is constantly derailed by the idea that a woman's place is in the home, only to find herself starring as the host of America's most beloved TV cooking show. Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it's the 1960s and despite the fact that she is a scientist, her peers are very unscientific when it comes to equality. The only good thing to happen to her on the road to professional fulfillment is a run-in with her super-star colleague Calvin Evans (well, she stole his beakers.) The only man who ever treated her-and her ideas-as equal, Calvin is already a legend and Nobel nominee. He's also awkward, kind and tenacious. Theirs is true chemistry. But as events are never as predictable as chemical reactions, three years later Elizabeth Zott is an unwed, single mother (did we mention it's the early 60s??) and the star of America's most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth's singular approach to cooking ('take one pint of H2O and add a pinch of sodium chloride') and independent example are proving revolutionary. Because Elizabeth isn't just teaching women how to cook, she's teaching them how to change the status quo. Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist"--

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

Call# Fantasy Yarros

"Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail was supposed to enter the Scribe Quadrant, living a quiet life among books and history. Now, the commanding general--also known as her tough-as-talons mother--has ordered Violet to join the hundreds of candidates striving to become the elite of Navarre: dragon riders. But when you're smaller than everyone else and your body is brittle, death is only a heartbeat away...because dragons don't bond to "fragile" humans. They incinerate them. With fewer dragons willing to bond than cadets, most would kill Violet to better their own chances of success. The rest would kill her just for being her mother's daughter--like Xaden Riorson, the most powerful and ruthless wingleader in the Riders Quadrant. She'll need every edge her wits can give her just to see the next sunrise"--

Demon Copperhead : a Novel by Barbara Kingsolver

Call# Fiction Kingsolver

Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, this is the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father's good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. In a plot that never pauses for breath, relayed in his own unsparing voice, he braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities. Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. Dickens is not a prerequisite for readers of this novel, but he provided its inspiration. In transposing a Victorian epic novel to the contemporary American South, Barbara Kingsolver enlists Dickens' anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Demon Copperhead speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can't imagine leaving behind.

Remarkably Bright Creatures : a Novel by Shelby Van Pelt

Call# Fiction Vanpelt

"For fans of A Man Called Ove, a luminous debut novel about a widow's unlikely friendship with a giant Pacific octopus reluctantly residing at the local aquarium--and the truths she finally uncovers about her son's disappearance 30 years ago"--

Mad Honey : a Novel by Jodi Picoult

Call# Fiction Picoult

"Olivia McAfee knows what it feels like to start over. Her picture-perfect life-living in Boston, married to a brilliant cardiothoracic surgeon, raising a beautiful son, Asher-was upended when her husband revealed a darker side. She never imagined she would end up back in her sleepy New Hampshire hometown, living in the house she grew up in, and taking over her father's beekeeping business. Lily Campanello is familiar with do-overs, too. When she and her mom relocate to Adams, New Hampshire, for her final year of high school, they both hope it will be a fresh start. And for just a short while, these new beginnings are exactly what Olivia and Lily need. Their paths cross when Asher falls for the new girl in school, and Lily can't help but fall for him, too. With Ash, she feels happy for the first time. Yet at times, she wonders if she can she trust him completely . . . Then one day, Olivia receives a phone call: Lily is dead, and Asher is being questioned by the police. Olivia is adamant that her son is innocent. But she would be lying if she didn't acknowledge the flashes of his father's temper in him, and as the case against him unfolds, she realizes he's hidden more than he's shared with her"--

The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride

Call# Fiction Mcbride

"In 1972, when workers in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, were digging the foundations for a new development, the last thing they expected to find was a skeleton at the bottom of a well. Who the skeleton was and how it got there were two of the long-held secrets kept by the residents of Chicken Hill, the dilapidated neighborhood where immigrant Jews and African Americans lived side by side and shared ambitions and sorrows. Chicken Hill was where Moshe and Chona Ludlow lived when Moshe integrated his theater and where Chona ran the Heaven & Earth Grocery Store. When the state came looking for a deaf boy to institutionalize him, it was Chona and Nate Timblin, the Black janitor at Moshe's theater and the unofficial leader of the Black community on Chicken Hill, who worked together to keep the boy safe. As these characters' stories overlap and deepen, it becomes clear how much the people who live on the margins of white, Christian America struggle and what they must do to survive. When the truth is finally revealed about what happened on Chicken Hill and the part the town's white establishment played in it, McBride shows us that even in dark times, it is love and community--heaven and earth--that sustain us."--

Legends & Lattes : a Novel of High Fantasy and Low Stakes by Travis Baldree

Call# Fantasy Baldree

"Worn out after decades of packing steel and raising hell, Viv, the orc barbarian, cashes out of the warrior's life with one final score. A forgotten legend, a fabled artifact, and an unreasonable amount of hope lead her to the streets of Thune, where she plans to open the first coffee shop the city has ever seen. However, her dreams of a fresh start filling mugs instead of swinging swords are hardly a sure bet. Old frenemies and Thune's shady underbelly may just upset her plans. To finally build something that will last, Viv will need some new partners, and a different kind of resolve"--

The Housemaid by Freida McFadden

Call# Fiction Mcfadden

Every day I clean the Winchesters' beautiful house top to bottom. I collect their daughter from school. And I cook a delicious meal for the whole family before heading up to eat alone in my tiny room on the top floor. I try to ignore how Nina makes a mess just to watch me clean it up. How she tells strange lies about her own daughter. And how her husband Andrew seems more broken every day. But as I look into Andrew's handsome brown eyes, so full of pain, it's hard not to imagine what it would be like to live Nina's life. I only try on one of Nina's pristine white dresses once. Just to see what it's like. But soon she finds out - and by the time I realize my attic bedroom door only locks from the outside, it's far too late. But I reassure myself that the Winchesters don't know who I really am. And they don't know what I'm capable of.

Never Never by Colleen Hoover

Call# Fiction Hoover

"Colleen Hoover, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of It Starts with Us joins forces with Tarryn Fisher, the New York Times bestselling author of The Wives. Together, they have created a gripping, twisty, romantic mystery unlike any other. Charlie Wynwood and Silas Nash have been best friends since they could walk. They've been in love since the age of fourteen. But as of this morning...they are complete strangers. Their first kiss, their first fight, the moment they fell in love...every memory has vanished. Now Charlie and Silas must work together to uncover the truth about what happened to them and why. But the more they learn about the couple they used to be...the more they question why they were ever together to begin with. Forgetting is terrifying, but remembering may be worse. Heart-stopping and utterly captivating, the complete Never Never series, now available in one volume, will leave readers breathless and believing in the power of love."--Publisher's description.

Hello Beautiful : a Novel by Ann Napolitano

Call# Fiction Napolitano

"William Waters grew up in a house silenced by tragedy, where his parents could hardly bear to look at him, much less love him. So it's a relief when his skill on the basketball court earns him a scholarship to college, far away from his childhood home. He soon meets Julia Padavano, a spirited and ambitious young woman who surprises William with her appreciation of his quiet steadiness. With Julia comes her family; she is inseparable from her three younger sisters: Sylvie, the dreamer, is happiest with her nose in a book and imagines a future different from the expected path of wife and mother; Cecelia, the family's artist; and Emeline, who patiently takes care of all of them. Happily, the Padavanos fold Julia's new boyfriend into their loving, chaotic household. But then darkness from William's past surfaces, jeopardizing not only Julia's carefully orchestrated plans for their future, but the sisters' unshakeable loyalty to one another. The result is a catastrophic family rift that changes their lives for generations. Will the loyalty that once rooted them be strong enough to draw them back together when it matters most?"--

Tom Lake : a Novel by Ann Patchett

Call# Fiction Patchett

"In the spring of 2020, Lara's three daughters return to the family's orchard in Northern Michigan. While picking cherries, they beg their mother to tell them the story of Peter Duke, a famous actor with whom she shared both a stage and a romance years before at a theater company called Tom Lake. As Lara recalls the past, her daughters examine their own lives and relationship with their mother, and are forced to reconsider the world and everything they thought they knew. Tom Lake is a meditation on youthful love, married love, and the lives parents have led before their children were born. Both hopeful and elegiac, it explores what it means to be happy even when the world is falling apart. As in all of her novels, Ann Patchett combines compelling narrative artistry with piercing insights into family dynamics. The result is a rich and luminous story, told with profound intelligence and emotional acuity, that demonstrates once again why she is one of the most acclaimed literary talents working today" --

The Covenant of Water : a Novel by Abraham Verghese

Call# Fiction Verghese

"From the New York Times-bestselling author of Cutting for Stone comes a stunning and magisterial epic of love, faith, and medicine, set in Kerala, South India, following three generations of a family seeking the answers to a strange secret. The Covenant of Water is the long-awaited new novel by Abraham Verghese, the author of the major word-of-mouth bestseller Cutting for Stone, which has sold over 1.5 million copies in the United States alone and remained on the New York Times bestseller list for over two years. Spanning the years 1900 to 1977, The Covenant of Water is set in Kerala, on South India's Malabar Coast, and follows three generations of a family that suffers a peculiar affliction: in every generation, at least one person dies by drowning--and in Kerala, water is everywhere. At the turn of the century, a twelve-year-old girl from Kerala's long-existing Christian community, grieving the death of her father, is sent by boat to her wedding, where she will meet her forty-year-old husband for the first time. From this unforgettable new beginning, the young girl--and future matriarch, known as Big Ammachi--will witness unthinkable changes over the span of her extraordinary life, full of joy and triumph as well as hardship and loss, her faith and love the only constants. A shimmering evocation of a bygone India and of the passage of time itself, The Covenant of Water is a hymn to progress in medicine and to human understanding, and a humbling testament to the difficulties undergone by past generations for the sake of those alive today. Imbued with humor, deep emotion, and the essence of life, it is one of the most masterful literary novels published in recent years"--

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Call# Fiction Zevin

"A modern love story about two childhood friends, Sam, raised by an actress mother in LA's Koreatown, and Sadie, from the wealthy Jewish enclave of Beverly Hills, who reunite as adults to create video games, finding an intimacy in digital worlds that eludes them in their real lives, from the New York Times best-selling author of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry"--

The Measure : a Novel by Nikki Erlick

Call# Fiction Erlick

When every person, all over the globe, receives a small wooden box bearing the same inscription and a single piece of string inside, the world is thrown into a collective frenzy, in this novel told through multiple perspectives that introduces an unforgettable cast of characters.
It seems like any other day: You wake up, pour a cup of coffee, and head out. But today when you open your front door, waiting for you is a small wooden box. This box holds your fate inside: the answer to the exact number of years you will live. From suburban doorsteps to desert tents, every person on every continent receives the same box. In an instant, the world is thrust into a collective frenzy. Where did these boxes come from? What do they mean? Is there truth to what they promise? As society comes together and pulls apart, everyone faces the same shocking choice: Do they wish to know how long they'll live? And, if so, what will they do with that knowledge? The Measure charts the dawn of this new world through an unforgettable cast of characters whose decisions and fates interweave with one another: best friends whose dreams are forever entwined; pen pals finding refuge in the unknown; a couple who thought they didn't have to rush; a doctor who cannot save himself; and a politician whose box becomes the powder keg that ultimately changes everything.

The Reformatory : a Novel by Tananarive Due

Call# Fiction Due

Twelve-year-old Robbie Stephens, Jr., is sentenced to six months at the Gracetown School for Boys, a reformatory, for kicking the son of the largest landowner in town in defense of his older sister, Gloria. So begins Robbie’s journey further into the terrors of the Jim Crow South and the very real horror of the school they call The Reformatory. Robbie has a talent for seeing ghosts, or haints. But what was once a comfort to him after the loss of his mother has become a window to the truth of what happens at the reformatory. Boys forced to work to remediate their so-called crimes have gone missing, but the haints Robbie sees hint at worse things. Through his friends Redbone and Blue, Robbie is learning not just the rules but how to survive. Meanwhile, Gloria is rallying every family member and connection in Florida to find a way to get Robbie out before it’s too late. The Reformatory is a haunting work of historical fiction written as only American Book Award–winning author Tananarive Due could, by piecing together the life of the relative her family never spoke of and bringing his tragedy and those of so many others at the infamous Dozier School for Boys to the light in this riveting novel.

Happy Place by Emily Henry

Call# Fiction Henry

"A couple who broke up months ago make a pact to pretend to still be together for their annual weeklong vacation with their best friends in this glittering and wise new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Emily Henry. Harriet and Wyn have been the perfect couple since they met in college--they go together like salt and pepper, honey and tea, lobster and rolls. Except, now--for reasons they're still not discussing--they don't. They broke up six months ago. And still haven't told their best friends. Which is how they find themselves sharing a bedroom at the Maine cottage that has been their friend group's yearly getaway for the last decade. Their annual respite from the world, where for one vibrant, blue week they leave behind their daily lives; have copious amounts of cheese, wine, and seafood; and soak up the salty coastal air with the people who understand them most. Only this year, Harriet and Wyn are lying through their teeth while trying not to notice how desperately they still want each other. Because the cottage is for sale and this is the last week they'll all have together in this place. They can't stand to break their friends' hearts, and so they'll play their parts. Harriet will be the driven surgical resident who never starts a fight, and Wyn will be the laid-back charmer who never lets the cracks show. It's a flawless plan (if you look at it from a great distance and through a pair of sunscreen-smeared sunglasses). After years of being in love, how hard can it be to fake it for one week...in front of those who know you best?"--