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Books and bops: Top books and music of 2023

Kaitlyn Close

As the last chapter of 2023 ends and the prologue of 2024 begins, the best books of the previous year are added to shelves in the next year. Through fiction, nonfiction, romance, fantasy and young adult, here are some of the top books of 2023, with music from the 100 best songs of 2023, according to Rolling Stone, to match.



“Now Is Not The Time To Panic” by Kevin Wilson

Told in two timelines, “Now Is Not The Time To Panic” follows Frankie and Zeke in Coalfield, Tennessee one summer where they create a poster with an unforgettable phrase: “the edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us.”

As widespread panic weaves through the town because of the mysterious posters, Frankie and Zeke begin to realize the consequences art can have when taken too lightly. 

If you like the sound of a call to adventure, the creation of art and reflecting upon memories, then the book pairs well with the fourth most popular song of the year, “I Remember Everything (feat. Kasey Musgraves)” by Zach Bryan. 



“Spare” by Prince Harry

The topic of multiple memes upon its release, “Spare” tells Harry’s story in the way he wants it to be told, with moments of humor and joy despite it all. Detailing life before and after the death of his mother, struggling through boarding school and avoiding the press at all costs. The memoir opens up with brutal honesty about the British Royal Family’s inner-workings and the cost of living life as the spare. 

If you like the sound of an honest story, royalty and what comes with the titles and frozen camping trips, then this book pairs well with “Not Strong Enough” by boygenius.



“Happy Place” by Emily Henry

In a classic fake-dating trope, Harriet and Wyn pretend to be together for the sake of their friends’ annual Maine trip, where they will be stuck sharing a room in a cottage by the coast. After years of being in love, and breaking up only six months prior to the trip, Harriet and Wyn wonder how hard it can be to fake love for a week – all while both hiding the fact that they are still in love with each other.

If you like the sound of coastal Maine in the summer – with a hint of love thrown in – then “Happy Place” pairs well with “My Love Mine All Mine” by Mitski. 

Henry is releasing another book on April 23 titled “Funny Story” which follows newly-divorced Daphne and chronic-wallower Miles and their journey as roommates.



“Fourth Wing” by Rebecca Yarros

“Fourth Wing” took the world by storm, selling more than 2 million copies since its release in May. Set in a fantastical college, the main character Violet Sorrengail ends up training to be in the dragon rider quadrant, as opposed to her original plan of joining the scribe quadrant. The book in essence is a series of trials and tribulations that Sorrengail must overcome to graduate – it’s either that or die.

The sequel in the Empyrean series, “Iron Flame,” released on Nov. 7, 2023. Though the average rating of 4.39 out of five stars on Goodreads is slightly lower than an average rating of 4.62 for “Fourth Wing,” the book has achieved the same level of success as its predecessor. “Iron Flame” sold over half a million copies on release day.

If you like the sound of fantastical worlds, then “Fourth Wing” pairs with “Paint the Town Red” by Doja Cat. 


Young Adult

“One of Us is Back” by Karen M. McManus

The third and final book in a series beginning in 2017, “One of Us is Back,” brings together the characters from the two previous books – “One of Us is Lying” and “One of Us is Next” – and thus two generations of Bayview High shenanigans. When a billboard, featuring the words “Time for a new game, Bayview,” is seen, no one takes it seriously until one of the friends in the group disappears. 

If you like the sound of secrets revealed, high stakes and deep betrayal, the final Bayview High book pairs with “Kill Bill” by SZA.

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About the Contributors
Meg Frantz, Reporter
Meg Frantz (she/her) is a freshman digital journalism major, with a double minor in political science and criminal justice, from Charlotte, NC. This is her first year writing for The Appalachian.
Kaitlyn Close, Graphics Editor
Kaitlyn Close (she/her) is a senior Graphic Design major and Digital Marketing minor. This is her second year with The Appalachian.
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