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Top Authors Share Their Must Reads of 2023

The writers behind Pocket’s Best of 2023 stories share the stories they couldn’t stop thinking about.

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One of the best parts of working on Pocket’s Best of the Year collections is alerting the featured authors that their stories were some of the internet’s most loved, saved, and read. So each year, we like to give those writers a chance to spread the good cheer—and the spotlight—by asking them to nominate their favorite (and sometimes jealousy-inducing) reads from the past 12 months.


Evan Grillon

“I came to this story over Thanksgiving weekend and immediately was drawn in by the writing. It’s a gripping subject—what it’s like to have open heart surgery—but also the story is told in an incredibly gripping way. It’s not my usual fare, but it’s hands down the piece I’ve read this year that’s left me thinking, and feeling, most. It’s raw and personal with a lot of unexpected twists and turns, and really leaves so much space for meditation.” - Emily Stewart

I Went on a Package Trip for Millennials Who Travel Alone. Help Me.

Caity Weaver
The New York Times

Matt Reynolds: “This piece is sheer joy. Not just because Caity Weaver is so damn funny—we all know that already—but because it introduced me to something I find almost impossible to comprehend: People who approach friend-making with the kind of relentless zeal usually reserved for competitive sports. This is not my idea of a holiday, but I’m so glad Caity was there to show us how time-poor, ultra-high-achieving millennials like to spend their downtime.”

See Matt Reynolds’ winning story in Pocket’s Best of 2023: Most Read.

The Case for Mediocrity

Josie Norton

Angela Haupt: “I’ve returned to this piece again and again since my colleague Jamie Ducharme published it in September. As a recovering overachiever, it spoke to me in a very personal way. I’ve shared it with many friends in a similiar boat, and it’s helped us all remember what really matters. It’s a great perspective-shifter on how and why embracing mediocrity can make us happier and healthier.”

See Angela Haupt’s winning story in Pocket’s Best of 2023: Great Advice.

21 Life-Changing Trips Everyone Should Experience at Least Once

Elizabeth Rhodes
Travel + Leisure

Andrew Sofin: “In a year with so much troubling news, from wars to natural disasters, this article was an absolute breath of fresh air. You cannot help but smile and daydream about these trips. Share it with your friends and family and see what they pick as their top three. It really says a lot about who you are. If I win the lottery, I will take my family to all the places, starting with Greece!”

See Andrew Sofin’s winning story in Pocket’s Best of 2023: Most Read.

On the Importance of Staring Directly Into the Sun

Adam Mastroianni
Experimental History

Agnes Callard: “Mastroianni takes a stab at solving the mystery of why human beings made so many advances in complex mathematics before discovering what seem, in retrospect, to be much more obvious truths—that blood circulates, that maggots come from flies, that heavy and light things fall at the same rate. His answer is that math makes our ignorance about it obvious, whereas in many areas of science we have ‘an illusion of explanatory depth’—we seem to ourselves to know much more than we do. Whether or not he is right about the causal-historical claim, the category of illusory explanatory depth is a fruitful one, and I found myself wondering: what are the things that I walk around wrongly assuming I understand...?”

See Agnes Callard’s winning story in Pocket’s Best of 2023: Most Read.

In-N-Out, Weirdly, Is a Climate Change Indicator

Meg Duff

Joanna Thompson: “This piece somehow manages to be hilarious, horrifying and weirdly kind of hopeful all at the same time. It’s also one of the most original climate stories I’ve read in years (and that’s saying something). Meg is an outstanding journalist and human being, and I’m looking forward to devouring whatever she publishes in 2024.”

See Joanna Thompson’s winning story in Pocket’s Best of 2023: Most Read.

It Was an Ordinary Name

Souvankham Thammavongsa
The New Yorker

Lee Suksi: “Souvankham Thammavongsa, author of the prizewinning How to Pronounce Knife, applies the same light yet devastating touch as she does to her short stories to tell her story of losing her brother. In anecdotes told clearer than memory will allow, she relays the intertwined truths in the platitude ‘great love, great loss’.”

See Lee Suksi’s winning story in Pocket’s Best of 2023: Great Advice.