In 2022, I finished less books than in previous years. Still, there were some great reads I came across. In this post, I'll go through the books I've read, including listing my favourites of the year. I hope you find some interesting titles on this list.
While I read less, I started taking more notes on what I read. Most of those books link to these book notes which vary in length and quality. Some more elaborate, summarising, commenting and connecting the book's ideas to other notes. Others are just a few sentences.
Either way, let's get into it!
Here is an overview of my reading this year in a timeline1. Fiction in grey, non-fiction in colour.
It's interesting to see how I usually read fiction and non-fiction alongside. Having two books available, one that requires more effort and one that is a page-turner, keeps me reading no matter my energy level.
The chart also reflects how I rarely go without a book. Once I finished one read, I start the next one.
No books read.
- Leviathan Falls — The ninth (and final) book of The Expanse, a huge sci-fi series.
- The Tipping Point — Malcolm Gladwell on how when ideas grow exponentially.
- Outliers – The Story of Success — Gladwell on the role of culture and circumstances in success.
- Shadows of Self — Fifth book in a fantasy series by Brandon Sanderson.
- Blink · The Power of Thinking without Thinking — Gladwell on the power of instincts.
- The Way of Kings — First book of the Stormlight Archive, high fantasy, from Sanderson.
- Miracle and Wonder · Conversations with Paul Simon — A ‘musical biography’ of Paul Simon.
- David and Goliath — Gladwell on how being the underdog can be the advantage.
- Grit · The Power of Passion and Perseverance — Doing hard things matters.
- Red Rising — Gritty fantasy.
- Words of Radiance — Second book of the Stormlight Archive.
- Arcanum Unbounded — Fantasy short stories by Sanderson.
- Deep Work – Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World — Focus is a superpower.
- The Bands of Mourning — More fantasy by Sanderson.
- Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy — Classic spy fiction.
No books read.
- 2084 – Artificial Intelligence, the Future of Humanity, and the God Question — Connecting and confronting AI narratives to the Gospel.
- Oathbringer — Third Stormlight Archive.
- A Forest of Vanity and Valour — Dark fantasy inspired by Robin Hood.
- So Good They Can't Ignore You – Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love — Getting a great job requires valuable skills.
- Stop Reading the News — News is bad for you and society.
- The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet — Lovely character-focused science-fiction.
- The Way of the Heart – The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers — Henri Nouwen on ancient spiritual practices.
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad — Don’t work for money, let money work for you.
- The Hobbit, Or, There and Back Again — Annotated version of the fantasy classic.
- The Collapsing Empire — Sci-Fi comedy.
In total, that’s 25 books read this year. This number is much lower than in 2021, when I finished 60 books. Although I read less, I'm still happy with how much I read.2
- 📊 The fiction/non-fiction split is almost even: 52% Fiction, 48% Non-Fiction
- ✍️ My most read author this year is Brandon Sanderson with 24% of books I read authored by him. Closely behind is Malcolm Gladwell with 20%.
- 📄 I read just over 10,000 pages this year. That’s about as much as reading the Bible eight times.
- 📜 The longest book I read was Oathbringer with 1264 pages.
- 🐢 Still, the book that took me longest to finish was Words of Radiance. After two months of reading, I turned the final page.
- 💨 Finishing it after one day, the quickest read was A Forest of Vanity and Valour.
- 🔖 The book that has been longest on my to-read list was So Good They Can't Ignore You. After having it on my radar for almost three years, I finally got around to reading it.
Back in 2020, my wife challenged me to read more broadly. Turns out, 80 percent of the books I read that year were written by American men. Not that that demographic doesn’t have great things to share, but there is an obvious overrepresentation. Especially considering that I’m a German, living in Sweden at that time!
So in 2021, I made an effort to read more varied across genders and nationalities. Some of my favourite reads that year came from authors who normally wouldn’t have been on my radar. The Mountains Sing and Dark, Salt, Clear were both fantastic reads that I would have missed otherwise!
Unfortunately, this year, I got lazy again. With 56 percent, over half of the books I read were written by American authors. Only two books I read were written by women, 92 percent being written by male authors. Ironically, both of those two books are strong candidates for my favourite books of the year.
Without making an effort, I seem to default to a certain demographic and miss out. Making an effort again to read more broadly is definitely a goal for the coming year.
Favourite books of the year
My favourite reads from 2022 in fiction, nonfiction and biographical.
Although I’ve read plenty of great fiction this year, Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson was my favourite read.
It’s a collection of short stories that gives further background (and major spoilers) about the fantasy world in which his stories take place.
The two short stories that made this my fiction read of the year don’t require any knowledge of the Cosmere. Both The Emperor's Soul (which won a Hugo award) and Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell are marvellous stories that stuck in my imagination in their beauty and simplicity.
An honorable mention goes to The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. It’s the first book in a sci-fi trilogy and puts a diverse group of crew members front and centre. Especially the interaction between the different species was really interesting. The ‘alien’ characters were authentic, and their unique attributes weren’t tropy or lazily done.
In most of my non-fiction reading, I am looking for practical takeaways. So my non-fiction book of the year is the one that had the biggest impact on my actions and thought patterns.
This year, that book is Grit · The Power of Passion and Perseverance.
While reading, that impact wasn’t immediately obvious. I rated it 4.5/5: Great, but not astounding.
Still, looking back at the year, this core idea had a huge impact: Success comes from sticking with things, even when they’re hard.
Often, when starting a new programming project, there is this initial burst of excitement. I am inspired to hack away at a new idea. After some time, the first problems start to appear. The honeymoon phase ends and things get hard. When working on a side project, the only person I am responsible to is myself. It is so easy to give up and let the project lie dormant once it gets challenging. This book inspires me to push through the resistance, to stick with things until the finish line.
After three weeks of coding away on a website for the Bookworm Podcast, things got hard and I stopped. I was reading Grit at the time, which inspired me to stick with it. I picked it up again and published it a few weeks later. This led to a shout-out on the podcast, and someone else building a similar site based on my code, which is awesome.
This simple idea of finishing things, even if they get hard, carried me through another project, Flowist, and led to build and publish this very website. Sticking with things can be hard, but it is worthwhile.
Miracle and Wonder was the only biographical-ish book that I listened to this year. It’s great. If you’re a fan of Paul Simon, you should listen to it. If you aren’t, listen to his music first and then to this book. You’ll be a fan afterwards.
That’s a wrap. 25 books in 2022! Here is to more great reading in the coming year.
If you got any book recommendations to share, feel free to reach out. Happy reading!