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The end of the year means lots of "best of" lists... and here's ours! We asked our staff for their favorite books and movies of 2023. Take a look and add some of these titles to your to-read or to-watch list.

Book River
Book River Items

Symphony of Secrets (2023)

by Brendan Slocumb

This intriguing book is about two people hired to transcribe a late composer's newly discovered last symphony. The book was imaginative and unique. - Renee, Programs & Outreach

Top Gun : Maverick (2022)

by Paramount Pictures Corporation

In this phenomenal sequel, after thirty years, Maverick (Tom Cruise) is still pushing the envelope as a top naval aviator, but must confront ghosts of his past when he leads Top Gun's elite graduates on a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those chosen to fly it. Watch for its exceptional cinematography, good storyline and actors that just make it all fantastic! - Janet, Fiction, Movies & Music

I Have Some Questions for You (2023)

by Rebecca Makkai

Elements of mystery, literary fiction and coming of age are part of this story of a podcaster driven to investigate a boarding school murder. The character development, writing style and complex themes are well-handled. - Allison, Hoffman Estates Branch

The Collected Regrets of Clover (2023)

by Mikki Brammer

A death doula finds herself as she helps the dying cross over. She spends so much time with the dying that she has no life of her own. Read along as she finds new friendship and love. - Lauren, Hanover Park Branch

Boys Weekend (2023)

by Mattie Lubchansky

Newly-out trans artist’s assistant Sammie hasn't identified as a man in a while, and yet their former best friend has asked them to be the best man in his upcoming wedding. What follows is a bachelor party gone very, very wrong in this brilliant satire of toxic masculinity, capitalism and hustle culture. - Emily, Fiction, Movies & Music

Chain-gang All-stars (2023)

by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

This book is extremely complex, beautiful and powerful. Chain-Gang All-Stars leads readers to take a unique, dystopian look at the flaws of our criminal justice system in a way that is uncomfortable, heartbreaking and frustrating beyond words. Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah has truly created a masterpiece that will leave readers feeling many, many emotions. - Abbey, Youth Services

Hands down, one of the best books I read this year. - Allison, Youth Services

Elvis (2022)

by Warner Bros. Pictures

Nominated for several Academy Awards, this film chronicles the life of American music icon Elvis Presley from his childhood to becoming a rock and movie star in the 1950s while maintaining a complex relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. I enjoyed the storyline of Elvis' life and the fantastic way the film was edited through his music and movie career. Austin Butler is exceptional in the role of Elvis! - Janet, Fiction, Movies & Music

Pineapple Street (2023)

by Jenny Jackson

This novel is told from the perspective of three women in a wealthy Brooklyn family. It is witty, character-driven and thoughtful. - Allison, Hoffman Estates Branch

Jesus Revolution (2023)

by Lions Gate Films

It is the true story of a national spiritual awakening in the early 1970s and its origins within a community of teenage hippies in Southern California. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie because I was in my 20s during the 70s and related to this time period. Plus, the main actor Jonathan Roumie stars as Jesus in the series The Chosen and is an excellent actor! - Edie, Access Services

Small Mercies (2023)

by Dennis Lehane

The desegregation of the Boston public schools and the protests and violence that erupted in the summer of 1974 serve as the backdrop of this gritty, unflinching thriller packed with hard truths, painful insight, and unapologetic realism. - Emily, Fiction, Movies & Music

All the Fighting Parts (2023)

by Hannah V Sawyerr

Though a heartbreaking and challenging read, All the Fighting Parts is also a beautiful novel in verse about a teen finding her will again to speak out, speak truth, and reclaim her agency. The tone, the format, the themes and the resolution are so beautifully handled by Hannah V. Sawyerr, making this a top read for me for 2023. - Abbey, Youth Services

Prom Mom (2023)

by Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman's most recent book was one of my 2023 stand-outs. The characters, pacing, and connection of past and present kept me engaged from the start. - Allison, Hoffman Estates Branch

Mister Magic (2023)

by Kiersten White

Val has no memory of her life before age eight, until two men show up claiming to have been her co-stars on the famed children’s television program Mister Magic, which ended abruptly in the 90s. With seamless commentary on parent/child dynamics and unacknowledged trauma, this deeply personal and mesmerizing work is sure to please - especially those with heavy 90s nostalgia, but is a can’t miss all around. - Emily, Fiction, Movies & Music

Impossible Escape : a True Story of Survival and Heroism in Nazi Europe (2023)

by Steve Sheinkin

Another stellar historical novel from three-time National Book Award finalist and Newbery Honor author Steve Sheinkin. This is the story of two Jewish teens trying to survive in the horrific world of WWII. One teen is hiding in Hungary while the other is plotting to escape Auschwitz. A poignantly powerful story of survival, heartbreak, and heroism, Sheinkin has once again created a narrative nonfiction that will draw in readers and encourage them to learn more about the lesser told stories of history. - Abbey, Youth Services

Sisu (2023)

by Lions Gate Entertainment

Do you associate THAT shade of pink with nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea? Are you not in the mood for a 3-hour meditation on nuclear annihilation? After a long day at work, would you like to kick back, relax and watch a Nazi get a knife through the skull? Do I have the movie for you! Sisu is a film set in 1944 about a Finnish ex-commando turned gold prospector who just wants to take his recently discovered gold to the bank, but a group of Nazis won't leave him alone. Bad move. Our silent hero dispatches with them in hilariously gruesome ways. It's the feel-good movie of the year. - Beth, Access Services

Mascot (2023)

by Charles Waters

This timely and important novel in verse follows a group of middle schoolers from different backgrounds as they discuss and debate why their school mascot is racist and if it should be changed. Engaging. Memorable. Real. - Allison, Youth Services

Ander & Santi Were Here (2023)

by Jonny Garza Villa

Top read of 2023! Described as Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets The Sun is Also a Star, this YA/NA romance follows two teens who are navigating what it means to find home, find their voice, and find love. I will forever recommend this book! - Abbey, Youth Services