10 Captivating Novels Guaranteed to Kick Start Your Reading Habit in 2023

When was the last time you read a really good book? A book that excited you and that every day you couldn’t wait to race home to continue reading. A book that you picked up whenever you had a free second. Was it a month ago? A year? Never? Well, that’s about to change. Cultivating a reading habit doesn’t have to be a chore when you have a good unputdownable book in hand.

If you click on this article, then chances are you are, like me, desperately seeking a really good book to kick start or reignite your reading habit so read on to discover a list of captivating novels and page-turners with exciting, emotional, and beguiling stories that will leave you hooked and undoubtedly kickstart your reading habit.   

Captivating Novels to Kick-Start Your Reading Habit

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover 

Last year this novel was all over BookTok, and for a good reason. It’s an unputdownable enchanting and romantic tearjerker that reinvents a classic love triangle to cover topics such as first loves, abuse, family, and trauma. The novel follows Lily, who meets the seemingly perfect neurosurgeon Ryle. It follows how their relationship blossoms, during which Lily still thinks about her first love, Atlas. That is until Ryle and Lily’s new relationship turns out to be far from perfect and Atlas suddenly reappears in her life. If you’ve already read and enjoyed this book, then check out the sequel, It Starts With Us

You Made a Fool Out of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

The New York Times referred to this book as an “ode to living with, and despite, pain and mortality”. This book follows a young widow and her attempts at a new life with new romances while grieving the loss of the love of her life. The main character, Feyi, gets offered the summer of her dreams on a tropical island thanks to a steamy encounter at a rooftop party in New York. She has finally met the perfect guy who is willing to be patient while she honors her grief and embraces her future. That is, until she feels a true second chance at love when she meets the only person on the island who is definitely off limits. 

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman, which is extremely difficult in the very sexist times of 1960s America. Zott has her work cut out for her to prove that she is just as good, if not better than her male colleagues. This doesn’t get any easier when she falls in love with Nobel-Prize-nominated chemist, Calvin Evans. However, Zott ignores the rumors that she is sleeping her way to the top and the couple begins building a life together. But, life is unpredictable and in a few years, Zott finds herself as a single mother and host of the Cooking TV show, Supper at Six. This hilarious page-turner isn’t about chemistry and cooking, it’s an inspiring account of changing the status quo and believing in yourself. 

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

This novel uses two intertwining stories, on two different timelines to illustrate the heartbreak of the AIDS epidemic in the 80s as well as the chaos of the modern world. In 1985, Yale’s career is just beginning to blossom as the AIDS epidemic flourishes around him. As his friends begin to die, the virus begins to get closer and closer to him. 30 years later, Fiona is in Paris trying to track down her daughter that has been indoctrinated into a cult. This page-turner plays with the dichotomies of good and bad, and how we must try to find the goodness within all of the bad. 

People Person by Candice Carty Williams 

This enjoyable read is an exploration into the legacy of a Jamaican Patriarch in a humorous and addictive way not dissimilar to the captivating narrative of her first book, Queenie. One of the main characters, Cyril Pennington is a father to five children, most of which are from different mothers. He openly considers himself more of a “people person than a father”. The book opens with Cyril picking up all five children so that they can meet in order to get to know one another and avoid any accidental romantic relationships down the line. However, years later as adults, they are thrown together when they receive a distressed call from the middle child, Dimple, the anxious 30-year-old wannabe influencer. Despite the themes of abuse, abandonment, crime, and uncomfortable sexual situations, it’s a breezy read that you won’t want to put down. 

How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie

While the title is dark, this humorous novel isn’t the murder mystery that you expect. Its main character, Grace, is on a mission to take down her wealthy father who abandoned and ignored her dying mother’s pleas. She wants to take down his family too. She has a great plan to complete these murders, a plan she laments will be so successful that it will prevent her from taking the credit for it. Until Grace finds herself imprisoned for a murder that she definitely did not commit. This compulsive read is dark, funny, and unputdownable. 


The Midnight Library by Matt Haig 

Between life and death there is a library, and the shelves full of books go on forever. Every book provides a different life, a chance to change something and do it all differently. Nora Seed is given the option to try a different life; a new career, the chance to undo a breakup, or pursue a fulfilling life that she never had. This novel is about the decisions we make daily, and the paths that those decisions lead us on. Is it choice or destiny? Would another life really be better? While it’s a morbid concept, this novel is an easy read that will raise many questions, but ultimately make us grateful for and understand the life we have. 

Beautiful World Where Are You by Sally Rooney

If you’ve read Normal People or Conversations with Friends, then you’ll already know that Sally Rooney has an addictively awkward style that is both relatable and unrelatable at every turn. Her newest novel doesn’t disappoint and follows Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon as they navigate their relationships. Typical of Rooney’s style, her characters are thinkers. They have sex then they worry about sex. They worry about their friendships and about the world around them, all the while begging the question: how can we believe in a beautiful world? 

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

If you’re looking for a book that you will be unable to put down until you finish, then The Silent Patient is definitely the one. This novel is about Alicia Berenson, who had the perfect life. She’s a famous painter, married to a famous photographer, and they live in a dream house. Until one night, her husband comes home and she shoots him five times and never speaks a word again. Her silence turns this tragedy into a mystery, and she is kept in a forensic unit. She stays here for years until she meets a psychotherapist who is determined to unravel the mystery. 

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

A captivating story about writing, The plot is a mystery with unexpected twists on every page that follows a writer who steals a dead man’s story for his novel and gains success from it, but then consequences come knocking. You won’t be able to put it down!

Synopsis: Jacob Finch Bonner was once a promising young novelist with a respectably published first book. Today, he’s teaching in a third-rate MFA program and struggling to maintain what’s left of his self-respect; he hasn’t written—let alone published—anything decent in years. When Evan Parker, his most arrogant student, announces he doesn’t need Jake’s help because the plot of his book in progress is a sure thing, Jake is prepared to dismiss the boast as typical amateur narcissism. But then . . . he hears the plot.

The Wonderful Benefits of Cultivating a Reading Habit

In addition to it being a fun hobby that keeps you entertained, reading also helps exercise our brains and allows us to switch off and relax—the ultimate flow state. If you are in need of motivation to help you develop a regular reading habit, here are some of the many benefits of reading. 

Reading Exercises your Brain

The 17th-century writer, Joseph Addison once said “reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body” and that is quite a neat way to emphasize how beneficial reading can be. The Brain is a muscle, and just like the rest of the muscles in our body, we have to strengthen it in order to keep it healthy. In other words, reading keeps our brains strong and healthy and postpones cognitive decline. Reading also improves our memory. Whether fiction or nonfiction, there is a lot of information to remember when reading a book, it could be someone’s life story or the ins and outs of a plot. Every new memory creates a synapse and strengthens old ones. 

Reading Reduces Stress and Improves Mental Health

A study found that reading for just 30 minutes a day can reduce physiological signs of stress such as high blood pressure and high heart rate. Those who already read regularly know that losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation. Other researchers have found that reading has a measurable impact on depression and mood disorders. 

Reading Can Help You Live Longer

If improving brain connectivity and reducing stress aren’t reasons enough to focus on your reading habit this year, then greater longevity definitely is. A 12-year study found that people who read regularly are likely to live two years longer than those who don’t read. 


Happy reading!


Aoife Smith

I would describe myself as a teacher, writer, and reader. I teach English in Madrid, and I have a degree in English Literature and Psychology. I'm currently studying journalism and I write in my spare time about issues stemming from a quarter-life crisis, being on a budget, social observations, the future, food, and literature. You can find me at onebrokegal.com

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