The Book Report: Ron Charles' Top Picks for Novels in 2023

The Book Report: Ron Charles’ Top Picks for Novels in 2023

By Washington Post book critic Ron Charles

Each year, it’s a difficult task to select a limited number of my preferred novels from the vast pool of options. However, I will attempt to do so below:


Farrar, Straus and Giroux

“The Bee Sting” written by Paul Murray and published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux is a grand tale of both tragedy and comedy, depicting an Irish family struggling under the burden of hidden truths and deceptions. The father manages a car dealership while the mother is known for her beauty in the town, yet both fail to give proper care and attention to their two troubled children.

“The Bee Sting” by Paul Murray

“The Bee Sting” by Paul Murray is available in Hardcover, Trade Paperback, and eBook formats through various retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and



James McBride’s novel “The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store” (published by Riverhead) takes place during the Great Depression in a historic Pennsylvania community. The focal point of this town is a compassionate Jewish woman who runs a small grocery shop. She is resolute in her efforts to prevent a deaf African American boy from being sent to a dreadful institution.

This heartwarming tale presents a fantastic array of absurd and virtuous individuals, along with hilarious and heartbreaking scenes, narrated in a brilliant and emotive poetic style.

Read an excerpt:

The store named “The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store” is owned by James McBride.

“James McBride’s novel “The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store” is available in a variety of formats, including Hardcover, Large Print Trade Paperback, eBook, and Audio. You can purchase it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and”

James McBride, the author of the new novel “The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store,” discusses the importance of community in an interview with “CBS Mornings.”



The existence of Tippoo’s Tiger is a reality: It can be viewed at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, where it stands as an impressive wooden sculpture that was capable of movement, growling, and musical performance. In her book “Loot” (published by Knopf), Tania James uses her imagination to envision the construction of this 18th-century automaton and the person behind its creation.

This incredible tale from history contains elements of irony and unexpected events, as it traces the journey of a young Indian carpenter from a sultan’s palace to a distant land.

Please read an excerpt from “Loot” written by Tania James.

Tania James’ book “Loot” is available in hardcover, eBook, and audio formats through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and


Pantheon Books

“Chain-Gang All-Stars” (Pantheon), a debut novel by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, presents a dystopian world in which convicted criminals battle to the death on a reality TV show for fame, special privileges, and even a chance to go free.

This is a harsh criticism of the US criminal justice system and our fascination with violence for profit. It’s also a book that will permanently alter your perspective on the two million individuals we incarcerate in correctional facilities.

READ AN EXCERPT: “Chain-Gang All-Stars” by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

The book “Chain-Gang All-Stars” written by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (published by Pantheon) is available in Hardcover, eBook, and Audio formats on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound.


Random House

“North Woods” by Daniel Mason (published by Random House) is a sophisticated and expansive novel that follows the story of a homestead in western Massachusetts over time.

Each chapter introduces new residents to this place, beginning with two Pilgrims who have escaped. After four hundred years, the house is filled with ghosts and the story is overflowing with magic.

Read a snippet from “North Woods” written by Daniel Mason.

Daniel Mason’s “North Woods” is available in various formats including Hardcover, Large Print Trade Paperback, eBook, and Audio. It can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and

This concludes the Book Report. It has been enjoyable discussing good books with all of you throughout the year. Cheers to many more in 2024!

Keep reading until next year!

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To access more book recommendations, take a look at these previous Book Report articles written by Ron Charles:

Produced by Robin Sanders and Roman Feeser.