Our Best Books: Staff Favourites of 2023

Every year, the team at Halifax Public Libraries discovers amazing books that we just have to share with you.

In the past year, we've found some incredible reads, both new and old. From popular bestsellers to personal memoirs and captivating debuts, we're excited to bring you our favourite books.

So, take some time to relax and enjoy one or more of these amazing staff picks. Let's start your 2024 reading list off with a literary bang.

Alison C's Pick

Staff member, Alderney Gate Public Library

Light From Uncommon Stars

A transgender heroine, violin virtuosos, teenage runaways, artificial intelligences, space aliens, soul-stealing demons, deals with the devil, and even donuts-this magical book has everything you could possibly imagine, and brings them all together in a gentle, lyrical way. Very hard to put this in just one genre!

Alison L's Pick

Executive Assistant to the Chief Librarian & CEO

Project Hail Mary

My favourite read of 2023 was Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary. It was a book that a friend’s book club read – and raved about. It’s slightly outside of my reading ‘comfort zone’, but I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s a great story that highlights that as a species we have a long way to go, and much still to explore.

Anna's Picks

Staff member, Marketing & Communications

All Good People Here

I'm a huge fan of the podcast Crime Junkie, so when I found out that one of its hosts had written a novel, I couldn't help being curious. This was a really fun mystery to read, filled with twists and turns that kept me curious until its final page (and for weeks after finishing too).

Love, Theoretically

I've read all of Ali Hazelwood's novels, and this one has to be my favourite of hers (yet!). Her characters are highly relatable, and I love following along with the silly situations the main character gets herself into while balancing her personal and professional life.

Åsa's Picks

Chief Librarian & CEO

The Light of the World

As I spent time with my own father at the end of his life this year, I turned to writers to better understand grief and loss. Elizabeth Alexander’s memoir The Light of the World is breathtaking. As a poet, Alexander can make relatively few words carry enormous emotion. This is a book I’ll reread many times in my life.

Finding Me

Renise Cain, our Community Specialist recommended Viola Davis’s Finding Me. I listened to this one as an audiobook - read by Davis - and I was captivated. A deeply personal memoir that traces Davis's traumatic childhood, through her remarkable career and personal relationships. I have recommended this book to everyone I know this year!

Bri's Picks

Staff member, Woodlawn Public Library

The Starless Sea

This book is a love letter to anyone who considers themselves a lover of stories. I was absolutely enchanted by the way this book weaves a pattern of stories within stories, and how they all piece together in the end. The writing is just as whimsical as the tale itself, and filled to the brim with wonder and feeling. I listened to the audiobook and the narrators were fantastic as well!

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride

This is a short (under 300 pages!) gothic tale written with lush and atmospheric prose. I love books that feature a darker take on fairy tales and this one certainly delivered. It’s got sinister secrets at the heart of a fraying marriage and a twisted childhood friendship that haunts the pages. I read this book in February and not a month has gone by that I haven’t found myself thinking back to it.

The Graveyard Book

I can’t believe it took me so long to read a Neil Gaiman book. The Graveyard Book tells the heartwarming story of a little boy who grows up in a graveyard, raised by the ghostly residents. There are some darker elements than you may expect to find in a junior book, but it’s done in such an honest and human way that is never too frightening, and yet does not sugar coat its meaning. Gaiman’s storytelling is truly unmatched. I would recommend this book to anyone, regardless of age!

Christian's Pick

Halifax Regional Library Board Member

Where to From Here

I enjoyed reading Where To From Here: A Path to Canadian Prosperity by Bill Morneau. The insightful analysis of Canada's economic landscape and Morneau's unique perspective as a former finance minister made it a compelling and informative read. His candid reflections on political and economic challenges added a personal touch that was both engaging and thought-provoking.

Colleen's Picks

Staff member, Marketing & Communications


A sweet story about a sasquatch and his pet bunny, Eric. We randomly borrowed this one to bring on family vacation this summer, and my nieces absolutely adored it. My week was full drawing pictures of Larf and his scarf.


My friend insisted I read this, and it did not disappoint. I basically read it in one sitting—a real page turner.

Murder in the Family

On a girls' getaway weekend, my mom, sister, and I read this aloud and tried to solve the case. It took a good 12+ hours of reading, but was so worth the memories and discussion. I had a notebook for recording clues, but you can also just enjoy alone and follow the twists and turns. Perfect for any true crime fan.

Diane's Picks

Staff member, Bedford Public Library

The Covenant of Water

Don’t be daunted by the 724 pages in this masterpiece. It’s a gorgeous book spanning the years 1900-1977 and the lives of many interconnected characters set in South India. I savoured this book and didn’t want it to end. Verghese’s novel Cutting for Stone, is one of my all time favourite books and his new novel lives up to that book’s legacy

Remarkably Bright Creatures

I read this for a book club and didn’t have really any expectations going in. I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a sweet story with a little mystery that’s driven by a cast of likeable characters that you want to root for. I really enjoyed it.

Elizabeth's Pick

Staff member, Collection Management

None of This Is True

A popular podcaster meets her birthday twin at a pub where they are both celebrating their birthdays. She starts doing a podcast with this woman and as their lives become entangled, things get complicated. This book kept me on the edge of my seat. I could not put it down.

Emma F's Picks

Staff member, Halifax Central Library

I'm Glad My Mom Died

This book is super heart-wrenching and real and honest. I listened to the audiobook, read by Jennette herself, which added so much more depth to her story.

This book was super interesting, I loved the illustrations and the very honest look at the lives of people (particularly women) who leave Nova Scotia to work in the oil sands. That whole world was a mystery to me until I read this book. Heartbreaking at times, but overall a heartwarming read.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches
This book is so whimsical and fun, with some romance and queerness sprinkled in. I loved the main character and the world-building that takes place to describe what it is like being a witch in modern times.

Emma S's Picks

Staff member, Alderney Gate Public Library

100 Mighty Dragons All Named Broccoli
Counting! Dragons! Fun!

Stella's Stellar Hair
A beautifully illustrated story celebrating hair, family and self-love.

The Rice in the Pot Goes Round and Round
Can be sung to the tune of the Wheels on the Bus. A perfect addition to any story time.

Jocelyn's Picks

Service Manager, Western District

Finding Me

What a powerful account of believing in herself, persevering, and overcoming so many odds. If you can, choose the audiobook version in Libby to hear the author read it herself.

Tom Lake

This book. If I could give it 100 stars, I would. Utterly glorious writing and just a fantastic story. (The audio version is Meryl Streep!)

The Book of Everlasting Things

Historical fiction of a love between a Hindu man and a Muslim woman, set primarily against the backdrop of the partition of India and Pakistan. A lovely story and a great way to learn more about that time and place.

Low Road Forever

Pop-culturally speaking, I'm pretty sure Tara and I are the same person. I loved this book. I related so hard to at least 96% of it and it made me laugh out loud more than once.

Julie's Pick

Staff member, Cole Harbour & Woodlawn Public Libraries

Recipe for A Good Life

I LOVED Lesley Crewe's Recipe for a Good Life. It took me back to my childhood with the party line and Women's Institute, and the feeling of community where everyone knows your business, mostly in a good way.

Kalei's Picks

Staff member, Tantallon Public Library

The Silent Patient

My most favourite psychological thriller. Every little piece of information you're given comes together perfectly, I can't wait to read it again!

The Final Girl Support Group

Such an interesting concept for a book and a very exciting read!

The Death of Bees

A bit of a darker story but still a good read! The author has written the story in such a unique way that it was hard to put down!

Kathryn's Pick

Halifax Regional Library Board Member

1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows

My favourite book this year is the memoir One Thousand Years of Joys and Sorrows by artist and social activist Ai WeiWei. It’s an incredible portrait of the author’s father, a famous Chinese poet, as well as a very personal account of the dramatic history that shaped them both.

Kim's Pick

Halifax Regional Library Board Member

Fire Weather

I choose Fire Weather by John Vaillant, because it was a year of fire and water in Nova Scotia.

Laura's Picks

Staff member, Halifax Central Library

Mad About You

My favourite romantic comedy author. The story twists in ways you wouldn't expect, and the author is so witty. Set in the UK, there are lots of recent cultural references and it feels very modern. A romance that keeps you engaged, I'm always sad to get to the end!


Came because of the name, stayed for the Halifax references. And the writing. He is a great storyteller and paints a vivid image of his life from childhood and on. Couldn't wait to continue reading.

Women Talking

I was hesitant to start this one but as soon as you get into it, you are hooked. It's about so much more than the story itself- a great metaphor for how problems are solved and the power of discussion. And really makes you think about how change is created. Also based on a true story, which I love. Highly recommend!

Laurel's Picks

Manager, Integrated Communications & Fund Development

I'll Show Myself Out

There are many essays about modern parenting, but few capture the small, insignificant moments that can feel momentous. Klein captures the desire to intensive parent (yes, parent as a verb), while trying to let go; she manages to find humour in the chaos, and asks “does everyone feel this way, or is it just me?”


Whether it’s the hassles of international travel, the comings and goings on Emerald Isle, North Carolina, intimate family stories or observations on everyday life, David Sedaris always makes me laugh. His latest book of essays reflects on living, and staying in New York during the COVID-19 pandemic, personal grief and loss, and his deep love for family – quirks and all.

Wow, No Thank You

We Are Never Meeting in Real LIfe

Quietly Hostile

Irby balances joyful and dark in laugh out loud essays. Sometimes gallows humour, always self-deprecating, Irby highlights the ridiculous aspects of modern life. You’ll laugh with her, because you know she laughs at her own hilarious jokes. Bonus, she reads her audiobooks -- be warned you will laugh out loud while taking transit.

Laurie's Picks

Staff member, Bedford Public Library

A First Time for Everything

This young adult graphic novel memoir is a wonderful coming of age story that perfectly encapsulates the feelings of those awkward middle school years.


Big is Vashti Harrison’s exceptional debut as a picture book author. Her words and illustrations combined take us on a powerful journey of self-acceptance.

Do You Remember?

Local favourite Sydney Smith knocks it out of the park again with his beautiful illustrations and poignant story about memories as experienced by a mother and son.

Maria's Picks

Staff member, Cole Harbour Public Library

The Storyteller

Although not published in 2023, Storyteller by Dave Grohl was my favourite audiobook of the year. Listening to Dave Grohl read Storyteller in his down to earth persona was such a treat on my walks to work in the morning. This book is for any music fan, especially those who love Foo Fighters, Nirvana and Dave's first band Scream.

Tony's Pick

Halifax Regional Library Board Member


My 2023 pick was Ducks by Kate Beaton.