Our Favorite Writing of 2023 - Craft Your Content

Our Favorite Writing of 2023

Did you feel it? 

There was a shift during 2023 in the way people consume media. 

Ten years ago, you picked up whatever was on the bestseller lists, went to whatever movie was playing in the theaters, and watched whatever was on the limited channels on your TV. Then you went to work and could talk about it with your friends or coworkers, because we all read/watched/listened to what was provided to us.

Then, the options became endless. Overwhelming, even. It was an exciting time at first! Authors could self-publish, there were over 400 new shows between networks, cable, and streaming, and films were made available with no more than a click of your pointer finger. Titans emerged. Superhero movies and Netflix megahits. We got one after the other after the other. 

This year, it seems like we all got tired of it. There’s too much out there to choose from, and yet nothing at all. Sometimes staring at a wall, or TikTok, felt safer than cracking open a book on your ever-growing TBR stack or spending 40 minutes scrolling through Amazon, Netflix, Max, and Paramount+ for a movie or show to watch. Did you want to spend $20 to see the new Marvel movie that was just subpar, or was it easier to just stay in, heat up some leftovers, and open up Instagram Reels for the next hour? 

Don’t worry, we all had moments like that this year too. But, we found some bright spots that shook us out of our funks and stood out among all the noise. They inspired us, informed us, changed our outlook on the world, and entertained us. These picks reminded us how lucky we are to have so many choices at our fingertips. We hope they stand out for you too.

Elisa’s Picks

Elisa Doucette is the Owner and Managing Editor of Craft Your Content. She also works on all client strategy, writing coaching, and program creation.

Anyone else have a year in 2023? I spent the beginning of the year exploring new digs and experiences, trading in reading time for hiking and “doing nothing” time. Then the back-half of the year, from about mid-August forward, hit me like a bag of hammers. 

As always, I wish I had gotten more reading and watching (and especially writing!) done this year, but the things I did get around to reading were so good.

The Way of the Writer: Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling by Charles Johnson

Amazon | Bookshop

You know those books that come along and make you wonder “Why doesn’t everyone know about this book?!” That’s how I felt reading The Way of the Writer. Johnson is like a modern Renaissance man, with accomplishments in comic drawing and art, lecturing, activism, teaching, and editing, to name a few areas of his interest. Yet he’s someone who I had barely heard of before, which is an absolute travesty of our education system and writing communities.

While the book does offer some exercises on the mechanics and practice of writing, the value lies in the storytelling and philosophy that Johnson weaves throughout those lessons. 

You know that professor they always make movies about, who sits on the quad telling students how to chase their dreams and reach their potential? Who teaches about the mindset and tenacity of pursuing the arts, rather than just the logistics and procedure? Who makes you a better writer because you understand yourself, your motivations, and the stories within that you are trying to share?

In six easy-to-knock-out-in-a-single-setting sections, that’s what you get from this book. Now one of my Top 5 must-read books on the craft of writing.

The Forgetting by Hannah Beckerman

Amazon | Bookshop

It’s been a while since I got my hands on a fiction read that compelled me to stay inside and read it from cover to cover as quickly as possible, but this one delivered on that experience. Told from two different character perspectives, this one follows so many twists and turns that just when you think you have one part figured out, a new piece to the puzzle unfolds. 

We meet one character, Anna, as she is waking up in a hospital bed with blinding pain and amnesia from a recent car accident. She doesn’t even recognize her loving husband, who has been by her side since she came in. Then, over a hundred miles away is a young mother, Livvy, struggling to return to work with a domineering husband who systematically pulls her away from the world around them.

Are the women connected in some way? Why are we reading how their lives unfold, simultaneously? Or do they have no physical connection, but a storytelling connection we as a reader need to figure out? This one is a playground for the imaginative mind!

Honorable Mentions: Elementary from Robert Doherty, Main Character Energy by Jamie Varon (Amazon | Bookshop)

Erika’s Picks

Erika Rasso is the Director of Development & Production at Craft Your Content.

Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas

Amazon | Bookshop

This year, I got myself on Goodreads. The first thing I did was start my 2023 Reading Challenge and decided to try to read 15 books this year. Now, for some, that may sound like a piece of cake. However, as someone who works in television, specifically scripted series development, 15 is the number of scripts I read in a week. So, completing a book in my spare time is quite the privilege. 

If you look back at last year, I was sucked into the Maasverse with the series A Court of Thorns and Roses. I had heard great things about her other novels, so it was an easy next thing. Throne of Glass is her first fantasy series, spanning 8 books and 1,080,505 words (yeah, that’s more than the bible!) so I was a bit intimidated to get started, especially because it leaned more YA than her other adult entries. 

But holy crap. The world, the lore, the characters, the cliffhangers, the drama! Dear reader, it’s a fantastic, dark, brutal, wonderful and truly all encompassing fantasy. It follows a young assassin, Celeana Sardothien, who is freed from a labor camp to compete in a to-the-death competition to become the tyrannical king’s “champion” for the chance to have her sentence commuted. As she makes it further along in the competition, she realizes there is something more sinister going on beneath the castle, which will bring up a past she had long since buried.

I managed to complete all 7,000+ pages this year and add 8 books to my reading challenge easily. If you’re a fantasy lover like me, this is a must read. 

Girls That Invest: Your Guide to Financial Independence through Shares and Stocks by Simran Kaur

Amazon | Bookshop

Last year, if you had mentioned investments, stocks, mutual funds, hedge funds, and the like, I would have shaken my head and said “that’s all too complicated for me.” I believed it too; I was certain that investments were for men on Wall Street and crypto bros who lost their money in the Silicon Valley Bank scandal. One day, my friend said, “Stop saying that, and read this book.”  

Don’t let the title fool you, this book is definitely not just for girls. Simran breaks down the historical barriers that have kept everyone from lower-income working-class folks to people of color to women from investing in the stock market. Investing is so shockingly simple that by Chapter 3, I was kicking myself for not learning about it all sooner. 

What I thought would be a book full of complex jargon and numbers that would bore me to sleep ended up being full of relatable stories and simple explanations. It was far from boring. What’s even more exciting is that when I started implementing what I had learned from this book, I started growing my wealth in ways I never thought possible. 

Honorable Mentions: Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros (Amazon | Bookshop), The Woman in Me by Britney Spears (Amazon | Bookshop), Anatomy of a Fall, and Skinamarink

Chris’s Picks

Chris Angelis is a Senior Content Editor at Craft Your Content.

I have noticed that a common denominator in many of the stories I experience — whether novels I read or films and series I watch — is that they involve characters who are odd, misfits, peculiar, quirky. Recently, I realized something else, too: This peculiarity is often a result of their being entirely ordinary.

This might sound like a paradox, but think about it: In this world of loud noises and vibrant colors, a world informed by Hollywood-driven, larger-than-life, superhero aesthetics, to be ordinary is to stand out. 

Many of the books I read and films/series I watched in 2023 fit this description, and I’ve chosen two of the most representative examples. Often, meaning hides in the mundane and the ordinary!

Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Shua Dusapin

Amazon | Bookshop

If you asked me to describe what happens in Winter in Sokcho, there is only one honest answer: “Not much, really.” Of course, this answer is partly misleading. A better answer is: not much on the surface.

In this short novel by French-Korean writer Elisa Shua Dusapin, we follow the happenings in a small guesthouse in Sokcho, South Korea. It’s the off season, and there are almost no guests, except a French graphic novelist who seeks inspiration in this dreary landscape. 

There isn’t really much going on in terms of plot — some visits to the border, some walks around the city, some dinners at local restaurants. The real impact, however, is precisely a result of ellipsis; what is not said.

There is clear romantic tension between the female narrator, working at the guesthouse, and the French cartoonist, enriched by the latter’s own prejudices and (largely unspecified) personal problems. The problematic relationship between the narrator and her mother only adds to this tension, and Dusapin’s novel becomes a thoroughly engaging exercise on how so much can be communicated by so little.

Fallen Leaves by Aki Kaurismäki


Some years ago, the Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismäki said he would retire. But never say never, as they say, and his brand new film, Fallen Leaves, should make us all feel grateful he postponed his retirement.

Again, the answer to “what is the film about?” can be summed up in one sentence: Two tired souls try to find each other. That’s it, that’s the film — on the surface. Fallen Leaves is basically a romantic comedy, but far different from the sappy, imbalanced, out-of-whack films you have likely seen before. 

A middle-aged woman, Ansa, struggles to make ends meet after getting fired from her meaningless supermarket job. She meets Holappa, a man of the same age also struggling with money — and alcoholism. There is undeniable mutual interest, but it all progresses in a very subdued manner, as a result of misunderstandings and accidents.

This short description doesn’t do justice to what the film is really about: the beauty that lies in the mundane, the art that exists in the detail, the meaning that we can all find if we only want to.

Aesthetically, Kaurismäki’s film is simply matchless. The color palette, the play of light and shadow, and the overall art direction serve the film — rather than other way around, as we all too often see. In terms of cinematic value, this is one of those films that, once you finish watching, you immediately want to go back and watch again.

Danielle’s Picks

Danielle Thompson is an Account Coordinator and Graphic Designer at Craft Your Content.

This year I went through some spirited phases of reading, and then some equally spirited phases of reality TV binging. Because life’s all about balance, right? 

The Whisper Man by Alex North

Amazon | Bookshop

I’d had this one sitting on my shelf for about three years, and I finally brought it with me on a six-hour flight to pass the time. Boy, did the time fly! Alex North’s haunting thriller kept me flipping the pages at breakneck speed.

Set in the town of Featherbank, a recent widower and his young son move into a new house to outrun their ghosts. Little do they know, the town was home to a serial killer nicknamed “The Whisper Man” who abducted and killed five children. Luckily, he was caught over 20 years ago; unluckily, the boy has been hearing eerie whispering at his window at night …Time to crack open his next book, The Shadows!



As per usual, I’d found myself in a mindless loop of Netflix reality TV, not wanting to commit to a “proper” series. Thankfully, my dad suggested I watch Fisk, and I exited the endless loop (for a while).

Fisk is an Australian comedy created, written, and directed by the brilliant Kitty Flanagan. She’s also the star of the show, portraying a lawyer in her 40s who is forced to start fresh after both her career and her marriage implode, and she does a remarkable job of making this dismal situation laugh-out-loud funny. And, most importantly, the supporting cast of characters does not disappoint! The two available seasons of Fisk were a quick but thoroughly enjoyable and memorable watch.

Spooky cinematic mentions: More of my time was taken up by movies than usual this year, and an overwhelming majority of them were of the horror/mystery genre. So if that’s your thing too, these were the three standouts for me: Talk to Me, Run, and The Visit.

Alice’s Picks

Alice Sholto-Douglas is a Content Editor at Craft Your Content.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Amazon | Bookshop

At the start of this year, in that brief, eerie time warp that comes after New Year’s, I was often home alone. Usually occupied by my two housemates, my house lent itself to indulgent vulnerability and inward spiraling in all its heavy silence. So it makes sense that I started watching the TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People, having read the book a few years before and knowing full well what I was getting myself into.

When I recommend Sally Rooney’s books to friends, I ask them a few questions first, to ascertain whether or not they’re more of a Conversations with Friends sort of person or a Normal People sort of person. I am, without a shadow of a doubt, the latter.

When I read Normal People for the first time, I did not cry. I wept. Watching Normal People, the tears fell just as freely. It’s surprising and affirming to have this happen — to find that a new iteration of something that’s moved you before still moves you in all the same ways. It made me feel consistent, which for someone like me is a rare thing.

I believe that what we cry at reveals us, to others and to ourselves. When we cry, our bodies are prodding us like the fingers of little children, showing us things we don’t look at and then asking “why?” a million times in a row.

If I were to select one thing that makes Sally Rooney’s stories so important to me, it’s that they engage you in a way that leaves very little room for escape. Even as you enter another world, that world is only as constant as the mirror it’s holding up to your interiority. You have to grapple with your gritty self and all your hidden feelings the whole time. It was disarming but also relieving that somewhere in its patience and quietude, the TV version of Normal People managed to do the same thing. 

Watching Normal People and becoming reacquainted with Marianne and Connell was a bit sore, but it also prompted a healthy dose of self-reflective masochism. I couldn’t look away. And I went into 2023 a bit bleary-eyed but thoroughly reacquainted with myself as well.

“The Uses of Anger” by Audre Lorde


Audre Lorde is an essayist I’ve returned to over and over again since first reading her work when I was an undergraduate. “The Uses of Anger” has become my compass. It’s helped me make sense of and move through and be able to name the feelings and instincts I’ve had in response to social and political struggles. I am always trying to inject her words into the roots of who I am and how I move through the world.

I am someone who has struggled with anger. Many of us have. Anger can haunt, and it can transmute into sadness, and it can ravage self-esteem. But it can also be strengthening and motivating and energetic. Audre Lorde knows this. 

I’ll share my favorite quote from this essay, which I think captures its essence:

[I]t is not our anger which makes me caution you to lock your doors at night and not to wander the streets of Hartford alone. It is the hatred which lurks in those streets, that urge to destroy us all if we truly work for change rather than merely indulge in academic rhetoric. 

This hatred and our anger are very different. Hatred is the fury of those who do not share our goals, and its object is death and destruction. Anger is a grief of distortions between peers, and its object is change. 

“Night Shift” by Lucy Dacus


Admittedly, I’m throwing this one on the list largely because Spotify informed me it was the song I listened to the most this year. I think this happened because Spotify kept including the song in its various rather deranged shuffles. But all those non-skips have amounted to Lucy Dacus’s “Night Shift” falling firmly into the top picks category, even if it did slip in without my full knowledge. 

What do I love about “Night Shift”? This is a question I have had to ask myself, because I hadn’t — until December — fully clocked how much it mattered to me.

It’s meandering, mood-swinging, and ambling at first, punctuated with the occasional sardonic rhetorical question and a handful of phrases that slice straight to the heart. After that, it develops into a sort of repressed frenzy, a pulse between hopeful illusion and deep frustration, all before it descends into that steady and rhythmic beat over which she delivers the scathing, “You’ve got a nine to five, so I’ll take the night shift/And I’ll never see you again if I can help it.”

My friend put it well one night while nursing an old fashioned at a bar in my neighborhood. He quoted Dacus with emphasis on the last two words of the first line: “The first time I tasted somebody else’s spit, I had a coughing fit.” Then, he slapped the table and declared, “She had me immediately.”

The second line of the chorus — “And I’ll never see you again if I can help it” does to me what the end of Sylvia Plath’s “Lady Lazarus” does: 

Out of the ash

I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

To eat men like air might evoke the image of a voracious, furious woman, but murkiness of her comparison undoes it at the same time. To eat men like air could also mean to depend on them — for life, to breathe. 

In “Night Shift,” too, we teeter on the edge of self-betrayal; to “help it” can also mean to resist crumbling and giving in, to do your best to stay away as you would during a breakup, when you don’t really want to. It’s livid resentment, but it’s wounded exhaustion too. The potent anger of the “masochist resisting urges to punch you in the teeth” gives way, so surreptitiously it’s almost imperceptible, to someone who, underneath it all, feels about as unstable as the rest of us.

In 2024, for obvious reasons, I plan on listening to disco and reading David Sedaris exclusively.

Amna’s Picks

Amna Faiq Ali is a Content Editor at Craft Your Content.

Like the rest of the 26 years of my life, 2023 started with big plans. One of these plans was to read as many books as possible, but things took quite an unprecedented turn — I got to read even fewer books than I usually do. 

The books I got to read are mostly about politics, history, and self-improvement. Two or three psychological thriller novels also made it into my list.

Oh, but on the other hand, I fell for Korean dramas, and OH MY GOD! I fell really hard! Sacrificed a lot of night sleep to binge-watch, and I finally understood all the hype around K-dramas!

Another form of media I was really hooked on this year was short documentaries and case studies on YouTube. I wasn’t aware some people are putting up such fantastic stuff. The channels that made it into my watch history the most are Dhruv Rathee, Magnates Media, and Wendover Productions. 

Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results by James Clear

Amazon | Bookshop

On a personal level, this book means the world to me. I have been meaning to read it for two years now, and it finally happened this year. 

This read was special; a very kind soul, great acquaintance, and mentor Muneeb used to refer to this book as their favorite of all time. 

This book focuses on habit formation and, ultimately, self-improvement. It features a lot of effective and efficient techniques for forming new habits and leaving the bad ones, so I’d highly recommend this book to everyone who struggles with self-discipline. 

Vincenzo (K-Drama)


Vincenzo was one of my favorite watches this year because it pulled inspiration from the GREATEST movies of all time, The Godfather series.

The drama’s lead, Vincenzo, is a consigliere to one of the prominent mafias in Italy. He is known for using his brain instead of violence. After a series of events, he visits his motherland, Korea, and fights with helpless people to get them justice. 

Shanece’s Picks

Shanece Grant is a Content Editor at Craft Your Content.

Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson

Amazon | Bookshop

In my quest for thought-provoking reads, Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson took me on a fascinating journey into the intricacies of human behavior and communication. Erikson delves deep into the world of personality types, using a unique framework based on four distinct colors: Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue. This book, although initially perceived as a lighthearted exploration, turned out to be an enlightening reflection on self-awareness and understanding others.

Erikson’s engaging writing style and real-world examples made the exploration of these color-coded personalities both entertaining and insightful. As someone who typically leans toward educational content, I appreciated the practical applications of this psychological approach in both personal and professional settings. “Surrounded by Idiots” challenged my perspectives on communication and interpersonal relationships, offering a refreshing take on the complexities of human interaction.

The Glass Room by Simon Mawer

Amazon | Bookshop

The Glass Room by Simon Mawer provided a captivating blend of historical fiction and architectural fascination. Set against the backdrop of pre-World War II Europe, the novel revolves around a modernist house known as the Glass Room. Mawer skillfully weaves together the lives of its inhabitants, offering a poignant exploration of love, loss, and the impact of political upheaval on individual destinies.

I’m drawn to narratives that delve into social dynamics and historical contexts, and The Glass Room left a lasting impression. Mawer’s evocative prose and meticulous research transported me to a time and place where the architecture mirrored societal shifts, serving as a metaphor for the fragility of human connections. The novel’s exploration of identity, resilience, and the enduring power of art resonated deeply, making it a standout choice in my year of literary exploration.

Poison by Kathryn Harrison

Amazon | Bookshop

I love a book that challenges conventional thinking and delves into the complexities of human experiences. Poison by Kathryn Harrison is a compelling addition to my reading list, exploring the blurred boundaries between love, desire, and obsession. Harrison’s lyrical prose and psychological insight created an immersive narrative that captivated me from the outset.

“Poison” delves into the intricate relationships within a family, unraveling secrets and hidden desires with a poetic, haunting and even dirty elegance. As someone who appreciates literature that navigates the nuances of human emotions, this novel left an indelible mark. Harrison’s exploration of the darker facets of human nature, coupled with her exquisite storytelling, transformed “Poison” into a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant journey that lingered in my mind long after the final page. This is actually my second reading of it. I first read it over a decade ago!

Simoun’s Pick

Simoun Redoblado is a Copy Editor at Craft Your Content.



Let’s talk about TV, shall we?

As an MCU aficionado, I’ve borne witness to one writing disaster (The Marvels) after another (Secret Invasion) after yet another (Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania) this year. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t acknowledge the beautifully crafted, consciousness-altering narrative that is the second season of Loki.

Where do I begin? I could go in an Ouroboros-like loop as I wax poetic about this series brimming with time paradoxes and alternate realities. But I’ll prune all the fanboying in my mind right now and go with the juiciest fruit.

The most masterful touch in Loki season 2 was the fate of the titular character. (Warning: spoilers ahead.) In the final episode, Loki struggles with the impending explosion of the Temporal Loom, a gargantuan device that keeps the countless timelines of the multiverse in check. But he figures it out, and to the surprise of his friends, Loki destroys and takes the place of the Loom. 

Instead of allowing just one Sacred Timeline to live, Loki — looking like Atlas from Greek mythology — lets every version of reality prosper. No arbitrary cutting of timelines. No pruning of universes. Loki, who was supposed to be a god of mischief, chose to become a god of stories.

In reality, writers and editors don’t have Loki’s power of allowing every creative idea to have a pulse. However, the sight of Loki firmly grasping, and giving life to, all those timelines is darn sure inspiring. 

We’ve all had to modify and delete sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and even entire manuscripts in our careers. But is there any way that we can maximize as many ideas as we can? Instead of physically and mentally junking fragments of our imagination, couldn’t we repurpose, restructure, or simply improve these creative thoughts?

Sounds difficult, I know. For writers and editors to pull this off, they’d have to be superhuman. Godly, even. 

Or we can do what Loki did and learn to take our time.

The MCU is alive, y’all. As Loki season 2 shows, the writing still has a pulse and the storytelling does have — more often than not — a heart.

Melanie’s Pick

Melanie Keath is a Copy Editor at Craft Your Content.

Dimension 20: Mentopolis


I’ve always been impressed by the art and craft of improv. As a slow and distractible storyteller myself, I’m floored by the way experts can think so quickly to put together a joke, sketch or tale that’s not only intelligible but genuinely hilarious, too. And the team at work in this pick isn’t on stage for just a quick improv set — they spend hours and days together, crafting stories on the fly.

In the streaming series Dimension 20 from Dropout (formerly CollegeHumor), cast members come together to play a tabletop role-playing game — often Dungeons and Dragons, but other games as well. Each creates a character, and then, within the structure provided by the game, the GM (game master) leads the team on a storytelling journey where the twists and turns are determined by improvised decisions — and rolls of the dice.

In my favorite D20 installment of this year, GM Brennan Lee Mulligan captains a table of eminently funny people (including Hank Green, of YouTube Crash Course fame) for a trip to Mentopolis, a bustling film-noir city inside the brain of a businessman who is having a very bad day. As embodiments of the Big Guy’s curiosity, impulse, attention, conscience, and more, the players spend six episodes fighting to solve a mystery and save the day. 

Like every season of this show, it’s both laugh-out-loud funny and full of a higher-than-expected dose of humanity and heart. One of my favorite stories of the year.

What Were Your Favorites in 2023?

Did any of our recommendations make your list? 

If you’re looking for more recommendations, check out our previous lists from 2022,  2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016 to add more to what you want to read, watch, or listen to next year! Or, head on over to Facebook or LinkedIn to share your recommendations with our team and future readers.

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About the Author Erika Rasso

Erika Rasso graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.A. in English and marketing and the University of California, Los Angeles with an MFA in Screenwriting. She has worked as a writing consultant, an editor for literary and academic journals, and as an assistant to film and TV producers. In her free time, Erika enjoys playing games and writing screenplays (though mostly she just watches WAY too many shows on Netflix). She is the Director of Production for Craft Your Content.

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