Episode 11

Our 2023 favourites

Welcome to our favourite episode: the yearly wrap! We're sharing our reading stats, 2024 goals and the books, TV, film and audio we loved in 2023.

Make sure you're also following us on Substack. On the last day of the month, we share recommendations for two things we reckon you should read/watch/listen to – and we try to keep these separate from regular episode recommendations. The beauty of Substack is you can revisit all our old editions and comment on our episode updates to share your thoughts. Come say hi!

Thank you for joining us in 2023 and supporting our wonderful authors. We love hearing your thoughts on the episodes and what books you've been inspired to pick up – even if it's an older episode. You can also connect with us on Instagram @betterwordspod

We're keeping recommendations brief. If we've featured or discussed the book before, we'll link to the episode.

Any PR/review copies marked with *

We kick off with a wrap-up of our reading stats for the year: how many books and pages, the moods and re-reads.

Our awards category of favourite books kicks off at 21:00

2023 debut book

Caitlin: One Day We’re All Going To Die by Elise Esther Hearst* (our interview)

Michelle: In Memoriam by Alice Winn


Caitlin: The House that Joy Built by Holly Ringland*

Michelle: Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

By someone who has never been a podcast guest

Caitlin: After the Forest by Kell Woods*

Michelle: The Rachel Incident by Caroline O'Donohue

Australian fiction

Caitlin: Lola in the Mirror by Trent Dalton*

Michelle: Duck a l’Orange for Breakfast by Karina May* (our interview)


Caitlin: Bound to Happen by Jonathon Shannon* (our interview)

Michelle: Wild Things by Laura Kay

Honourable mention: The Wake Up Call by Beth O'Leary

General fiction

Caitlin: One Love by Matt Cain* (our interview)

Michelle: Playing Games by Huma Qureshi* (our interview)

Young adult

Caitlin: Two Can Play That Game by Leanne Yong* (our interview)

Michelle: Little Bang by Kelly McCaughrain*

Honourable mention: Happy Head by Josh Silver (our interview)

Most surprising

Caitlin: West Side Honey by Claire Christian* (our interview)

Michelle: Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister

Fave Cover

Caitlin: Yellowface by Rebecca Kuang*

Michelle: Homecoming by Kate Morton – Australian cover

Recommendations for each other

Caitlin: We Could Be Something by Will Kostakis

Michelle: Factory Girls by Michelle Gallen

Worth the Hype

Caitlin: One Love by Matt Cain* (our interview)

Michelle: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

2024 books on our radar (by authors not previously read)


  • Caledonian Road by Andrew O’Hagan
  • The List of Suspicious Things by Jennie Godfrey
  • The Lonely Hearts Quiz League by Lauren Farnsworth


  • Go Lightly by Brydie Lee Kennedy
  • Sisterhood by Cathy Kelly
  • Just Friends by Gyan Yankovich

2024 books on our radar (by authors we love)


  • You Belong With Me by Mhairi McFarlane
  • The Lifeline by Libby Page
  • Crime of the Century by Hallie Rubenhold


  • So Fetch by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
  • The Work by Bri Lee
  • Funny Story by Emily Henry



  • Abbott Elementary
  • Jury Duty
  • Miracle Workers


  • The Longest Shadow
  • The Boys
  • Funny Woman



  • Barbie
  • Air
  • What's Love Got to Do With It?


  • Barbie
  • Ford Vs Ferrari/Le Mans '66
  • Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget



  • And That's What You Missed
  • Synced
  • Cool Story


  • We Are History
  • All Killa No Filla
  • Oh What a Time (which Michelle totally forgot to actually mention on the podcast)

2023 was also the year Michelle released a two-part podcast/audio documentary with ABC's The History Listen. Listen to part one here and part two here.

Music – albums


  • The Good Witch by Maisie Peters
  • Snow Angel by Renee Rapp
  • Speak Now (Taylor's Version)


  • The Good Witch by Maisie Peters
  • You Signed Up for This by Maisie Peters
  • Autumn Variations by Ed Sheeran

Music – Songs


  • BSC by Maisie Peters
  • Talk Too Much by Renee Rapp
  • Electric Touch by Taylor Swift ft Fall Out Boy


  • I'm Trying (Not Friends) by Maisie Peters
  • Positive Spin by Gretta Ray
  • Amazing by Ed Sheeran

Books and other things mentioned

Connect with us on Instagram: @betterwordspod

About the Podcast

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Better Words

About your hosts

Profile picture for Caitlin Toohey

Caitlin Toohey

Hi, I'm Caitlin! I've been on bookstagram since 2016, a podcaster since 2017, and worked in publishing since 2019. So books and reading are my entire life. When I'm not reading, I like listening to Taylor Swift, watching sitcoms, and generally being a theatre kid.
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Michelle Gately

Hi, I'm Michelle! I'm an Aussie living in the UK, working as a bookseller at Waterstones. I'm obsessed with storytelling in all its forms – I spend as much time watching TV or listening to podcasts as I do reading. Other hobbies include bouldering, hiking and generally obsessing about my pug Percy.