My 2023 reading retrospective

Happy new year! After talking about my low-stakes accomplishments and the non-book media I consumed in 2023, it’s time to share my reading retrospective. It’s very fun on one hand, and absolutely terrible on the other: I hate having to whittle down the list to a mere top 24!

From 2015 to 2020, I always had a 75-book yearly reading goal. During the first COVID-19 lockdown, I realised that I really needed to step away from the screen more, and started getting that goal up: to 100 in 2021, 150 in 2022, and I’m finally settling at 200 for 2023 and 2024. I got to 215 books read in 2023, 3 more than the previous year.

(Note: links with a ⧉ are external, usually to the book’s presentation on The Storygraph; if they don’t have this symbol, they’re internal and probably lead to my review on this blog. I usually only talk about books I enjoyed on the blog, but an external link doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t like the book − it could just be that I read it before starting to write here.)

Reading challenges

In 2023, as I said last year, I decided not to take part in any year-long reading challenges, because I had a pretty big backlog of bought-and-not-yet-read books and I am a huge mood reader. I have no regrets.

I kept (very slowly) going through these multi-year challenges:

To be fair, I didn’t at all work on these two challenges, I just tried to favor foreign books without really trying to optimize for them. I think in 2024, I might try to set myself an actual goal so that I’ll make real progress, for instance by choosing 6 books by African women and 12 books from new countries and trying to actually read them.

What and where I read

In 2023, my recommendations come mostly from:

  • Blogs that are not dedicated to books, such as Autostraddle’s LGBTQ+ lists.
  • Literary prizes, especially the Lambda literary award.
  • The L’esprit critique podcast by Médiapart.
  • My local library is absolutely amazing!
  • When I see a clearly leftist or anarchist-leaning library, I enter and, uh… support them financially.
  • Friends, of course!

As for the books themselves, I get them from my local library if they’re available. If not, I go to my local library, grab them if I see them, then get home and definitely don’t look for the missing ones on Anna’s Archive, that would be very wrong.


Out of a total of 215 books

I read 40 % print, 60 % digital, and one (1) audiobook (which, to nobody’s surprise, is World War Z, of which I have now read pretty much every single existing edition). Fiction made up 68 % of the total. I read 21 books that were more than 500 pages long, and nearly half of my books were less than 300 pages (47 %). 112 books were in English, 101 in French, and two in Italian. It’s relatively balanced between French and English − the around the world challenge is just too hard if you need the books to be translated to French, but I’d like to read less US-centric stuff nonetheless.

My favourite moods are, according to The Storygraph, reflective, emotional, adventurous, dark and challenging. As for my favourite genres, LGBTQIA+ has a vast lead over Literary, Fantasy, Historical and Contemporary. I blame Terry Pratchett for the Fantasy section, as he was my most-read author with 8 books; he’s followed by R.F. Kuang (5 books). At three books, we have Balzac (I then dropped the whole Comédie Humaine 40+ novels in − turns out I hate the guy too much to enjoy his work), Naomi Novik of the Scholomance series, and Zoe Whittall. bell hooks and Alice Zeniter have all my love and only two books each, which is really not enough.

Sources: I got 37 books from my local library, 4 from a Little Free Library (boîte à livres), 3 from the Internet Archive, 2 from my work union’s library and one through the academic publishing platform Cairn. Of these, 14 books were used to improve Wikipedia or its sister projects, for instance when I proofread the digitized version of Le martyre de l’obèse, now available on French Wikisource.

My top reading months were January (I was on sick leave), April (no idea), and July and August (good ole Southern Europe holidays). Also, I don’t rate books, so no stats about that.

Best reads of 2023

And now, to the books I actually recommend reading!

If there is no [Text] at the beginning of the line, the book exists in French and English.


  • The Mountains Sing, by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, is obviously not a fun read, in general but especially as a French person. It is essential and beautiful and horrible and gripping.
  • The wrong end of the telescope, by Rabih Alameddine, is possibly the first book I read about a trans character and not about being trans. And also − trans and not Young Adult? Even if the book hadn’t been very good it would have made my list, but it was a masterpiece.
  • Big Girl is my favourite read of the month, by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan. The intergenerational trauma of fatness added to the weird smudge of lesbianism added to life, it’s all just so much and so big!
  • Alice Zeniter had a triple episode in Arte’s Bookmakers podcasts about her novel L’Art de perdre. The interview made me really curious and I loved reading this book about Algerian harkis going through the post-decolonization nightmare.
  • I read the Scholomance trilogy, aka goth Percy Jackson, pretty much in one sitting (aside from this pesky « I need sleep » little thing).
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is incredibly good, with multi-generational timelines.
  • [Partially translated to French] The Poppy War series by R. F. Kuang hurt my soul, of course, but it was excellent grown-up fantasy. Book 1 was translated to French and the published decided to drop the other two tomes.
  • [English-only] Manywhere: Stories, Morgan Thomas. A collection of nine short stories with trans, intersex, and otherwise queer protagonists everywhere in the USA. This book was nominated for a Lemmy Award and fully deserved it!
  • [English-only] Mother Ocean Father Nation is a gripping read from Nishant Batsha about anti-Indian discrimination on a fictional, and yet terribly real, West Pacific island.


  • Tout le monde peut être féministe de bell hooks m’a bien secoué et fait remettre en cause le côté « je suis féministe radical » qui me pourrissait de toute façon la vie. Une excellente lecture très encourageante. Aussi de bell hooks, La volonté de changer m’emplit d’espoir et parle d’hommes et de féminisme – non, pas comme ça.
  • Trans* de Jack Halberstam est un recueil d’essais (ou un seul essai bien divisé) sur des thèmes en rapport avec la transidentité, avec un point de vue empathique et super intéressant selon moi, à la fois académique et facile à lire (dans l’ensemble).
  • [French-only] La fin des monstres, Tal Madesta. Je l’ai lu pour un club de lecture et je pense qu’à ce jour c’est le meilleur livre trans francophone que j’ai lu. Seul bémol : il fout un cafard monstre, trop occupé à prouver que c’est dur d’être trans aux personnes cisgenres.
  • [French-only] Je suis une fille sans histoire, d’Alice Zeniter, est un petit message d’amour à la rédaction d’histoires, aux femmes, et à la langue française. Il est drôle, il est émouvant, il ne révolutionne rien mais rappelle des messages importants, je l’ai beaucoup aimé. Ça tombe d’ailleurs bien, puisque j’ai toujours L’art de perdre quelque part dans mes cartons (la bibliothèque n’a toujours pas été livrée, non).
  • [French-only] Sex friends : comment (bien) rater sa vie amoureuse à l’ère numérique, de Richard Mèmeteau. Un essai détaillé sur l’amour, pas seulement au temps de la drague en ligne mais aussi au temps du polyamour, des comportements à risque et du dating à l’américaine, le tout raconté d’un point de vue queer-mais-pas-que. Je n’avais pas envie d’aimer ce livre. Je l’ai adoré.
  • [English-only] Diary of a Misfit: A Memoir and a Mystery by Casey Parks had me sobbing a couple of times. It follows the investigation of someone who
  • [English-only] Suburban Socialism by Oly Durose gave me political hope.
  • [English-only] Before we were trans: a new history of gender by Kit Heyam, an excellent read that goes further than the Western, white, cisnormative view we often have of gender to talk about «trans» (or not) people from all eras and places.
  • [English-only] Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make and Keep Friends is the closest I’ve gotten to new year resolutions for 2024. An excellent read.

See you next year for more good reads, follow me on Storygraph if you’d like, and don’t forget to share your own recommendations with me!


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