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Top 5 Books We Loved in 2023

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We're Isabel & Marilyn

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What do the top 5 books we loved in 2023 have to do with Christmas Eve? Christmas can be such a big holiday, either for religious, economic or social reasons. While large social events can be wonderful to host or attend, it’s also nice to make space for something a little more low key. Even better when it’s an activity a household can engage in together.

This year, we will be attempting just that with our family. We are going to try to bring in a new tradition, borrowed from Iceland, called “Jólabókaflód,” or “Christmas book flood”. 

red christmas ball decoration

What happens at Jólabókaflód is that people gift one another books on Christmas Eve, which they open. Traditionally, Christmas Eve is when many families in Europe celebrate Christmas, opening gifts at midnight. In North America, it seems we place a bigger importance on Christmas Day, including the opening up of gifts Christmas morning. For Jólabókaflód, once book gifts are exchanged, the family then spends Christmas Eve together, reading their new books in one another’s company, while enjoying Christmas snacks and drinks. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

To make this work, it’s best to have great books that will sweep us into the story. While we love shorter pieces, nothing beats a great novel.

Below you can find our choices for the top 5 books we loved in 2023. These books were not all new releases, but sometimes, it takes a while for the right book to find you. One of these may be finding you to read yourself or to gift this Christmas Eve for Jólabókaflód.

Please note: These are not affiliate links, although they do link for your convenience. We do not receive any payment for these links or recommendations.

Top 5 Books for Christmas Eve Reading

the invisible hour by alice hoffman - a favourite of the top 5 books

The Invisible Hour by Alice Hoffman: A woman born out of wedlock to a disgraced mother saves herself through the magic of books. Great writing that sweeps you into the story.

the impossible lives of greta wells by andrew sean greer

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer: If you love time travel and romance, then this story may be for you. There is also a strong female protagonist, which we can identify with. It asks the question: how would you, yourself and the people you love, be different in another time?

somebody's daughter by ashley c ford

Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir by Ashley C. Ford: This beautifully written coming-of-age memoir seeks to explore the effects of growing up with an absent father due to his incarceration.

dona flor and her two husbands by jorge amado

Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands by Jorge Amado: This delightful magical realism novel follows Flor through her first marriage to her lovable, handsome but philandering husband, who dies prematurely. When Flor finds love again, it’s not necessarily all cookies and cream, especially when the very real and amorous ghost of her first husband returns.

bringing down the duke by evie dunmore

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore: Following in the tradition of the popular Bridgerton series, this Regency romance brings similar elements, but with a feminist twist. A scholarship to Oxford from a suffragette organization allows for the orphaned heroine to escape the drudgery of her cousin’s household, where she lives as a second-class citizen. There, she meets the hero, who, in order to be with her, would have give up something significant of his own. Will he? Will they find their happily ever after?

We hope you enjoy our selection of top 5 books that we read this year.

If you read any of these, let us know what you think of them in the comments below.

-Isabel & Marilyn

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We share of love of Lisbon, Chihuahuas, sushi, coffee, binge-worthy tv, movies, being out in nature, the ocean, and our amazing mom.

And of course, we love literature and appreciate a kick-ass lipstick.






We're Isabel and Marilyn, the two sisters behind Letters and Lipstick.









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Letters and Lipstick is for the woman who wants to be the leading lady in her own life.

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