Phoebe & Belle’s Bookshelf: 2023’s Best Reads (So Far)

Remix Editorial Assistant Annabelle and Social Media Manager & Writer Phoebe Holden are both avid bookworms in the office, so we turn to them and their Bookshelf series to find our next nightly read. 

As the colder months arrive, we tend to turn to warm and homely activities to keep us company, and reading is the perfect distraction away from the digital world and the winter blues. Throughout the past five months, we’ve thumbed through a few titles, and we thought we’d share a handful that stood out to us. One managed to help Annabelle escape to another era, transporting her to the late 1930s in primetime New York City, and another had Phoebe calling for a reopening of the cosy NYC coffee spot, Café Ino. Here are some of our favourite reads for 2023 so far…


Shuggie Bain 
by Douglas Stuart

Forewarning before you open this book; I cried - actually, I sobbed. Douglas Stuart knows how to make you keep picking up his novels, through his raw, powerful storytelling. Shuggie Bain tells the story of Shuggie, coming into his own in ‘80s Glasgow with an alcoholic Mother and an absent Father. I find it rare that a novel so solemn and real is something that I want to pick up on my lunch break or with my morning coffee as well as just before I go to sleep, but this was exactly that. Make sure you have tissues handy before you begin! 


Rules of Civility 
by Amor Towles 

Personally, I’m a sucker for any book that can really transport me to another era in time, and Rules of Civility did just that. Amor Towels’ writing always leaves me awe-stricken, as if I’m Jane Austen herself and I’m reading a love letter sent via pigeon (does that make sense?). A Tale of 25-year-old Katey Kontent and her best friend who comes across a handsome banker, Tinker Grey, in a Greenwich Village jazz bar, this a story filled with romance and riling moments, and anything set in an NYC Jazz Bar means I’m sold.  


How to Loiter in a Turf War 
by Coco Mellors

A work of autobiographical fiction that is short and amazing enough to read in one sitting, a combination of art and poetry is mixed throughout making each page better and better as you go. The story follows three fiercely funny and wickedly sharp wāhine around an ever-gentrifying Tāmaki Makaurau navigating sex, art, sausage sizzles and the Auckland transport system. Loved this, all New Zealanders should give it a read. Eye-opening with some good laughs along the way.


M Train 
by Patti Smith

I am loving reading/re-reading Patti Smith’s work. I finished M Train over the weekend, deeply solitary in comparison to some of her other reads but similar in the way it felt like being inside her mind or like going on a personal trip away with her (but the way she kept leaving important items places and losing them forever made me very stressed!) It’s funny, every Patti Smith book I read somehow feels like a sign. I’m not sure how to explain that but she is the only author I’ve felt close to, it’s a really lovely reading experience. As always the way she talks about Fred is completely heartbreaking, I am forever in awe of her strength. Bring back Cafe Ino!!!!