Well, I only read 26 books this year. You could say that I’m in a reading recession, as this is an 18.75% decrease in books read from last year. (If you’ll recall, I’ve been reading 3% more books per year for the past three years).
I can’t say that I’m surprised by this decrease. While this year did bring the addition of laundromat reading time, the overall the time I spent reading was pretty paltry. This was due to number of factors, chief among them the social media and the many distractions it brings.
As far as reading goals go, I didn’t really have any this year, other than a carry over from last year. For the second year in a row, I told myself that I would read five Shakespeare plays. And for the second year in a row, I’ve failed to meet said goal (Though I did actually read two plays this year, as opposed to zero last year)
But as you all know, reading is a game of quality not quantity. And while I did read a few dud’s this year, overall I had some really impactful and enjoyable reads this year, such as Doug Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home and Rinker Buck’s long awaited The Oregon Trail follow-up.
So, as always here is every book I read in 2022, with assorted thoughts on each included.
American Dialogue: The Founders and Us (Started 2021) by Joseph Ellis: I’ve really enjoyed Dr. Ellis’ contributions to the Thomas Jefferson Hour over the past few years and I will be making an effort to read more of his bibliography.
The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For by David McCullough: The title is misleading. This isn’t really another timely meditation of the ideas of America but instead mainly a collection of McCullough’s college commencement speeches over the years.
The Long Way Home: An American Journey From Ellis Island to the Great War by David Laskin: A rich combination of both personal and global history. This book tell the story of 12 immigrants to the United States in the early 1900s, who would go on to fight for their adopted country in the Great War.
Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder: I was sad to hear that shortly after I finished reading this biography, it’s subject Dr. Paul Farmer, died. The world is truly a better place because of his work.
The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters by Rose George: A really fun and interesting read on sewage and different culture’s approaches to it.
Why Every Man Needs a Tractor and Other Revelations in the Garden by Charles Elliot: This book was a major let down that I bought based solely off the title and colorful cover design. Really, it is just a collection of pretty boring botany essays, one of which pertains to tractors.
The Backpacker’s Field Manual: A Comprehensive Guide to Mastering Back Country Skills by Rick Curtis: I got my first, true backpacking trip under my belt, or should I say under my back, this year!
Goodbye, Again by Jonny Sun: This collection of essays on mundanity, burnout, and houseplants, among other things, really spoke to me.
Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants by Douglas W. Tallamy: Out of all the books I’ve ever read, if I could make everyone on earth read one book, it would be this one.
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green: This book series is enjoyable in part because Hank Green understands the culture of the internet so well.
Best American Essays 2020 by various: Highlights include “How to Bartend”, “The Other Leopold”, and “Was Shakespeare a Woman?”
The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard: A really good exploration of TR at his most TR.
Twilight at Monticello: The Final Years of Thomas Jefferson by Alan Pell Crawford: Focusing on his life after the presidency, this book does well in illustrating Jefferson’s complicated and difficult family life and personal affairs.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown: Or as Henry David Thoreau put it “Simplify, simplify, simplify.”
The Killer Angels (Started 2021) by Michael Shaara: Honestly, I don’t feel that while reading this book, I gave it enough attention, as I was quite confused by all the characters and happenings.
The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green: I really hope there is a sequel to this essay collection.
Life on the Mississippi: An Epic American Adventure by Rinker Buck: I’ve been waiting years for this book to come out and I was so glad it didn’t disappoint. Rinker Buck’s follow up to The Oregon Trail has him building and sailing a flatboat, the pivotal vehicle of 1820’s America, down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. As always, Buck’s blending of historical accounts and personal memoir is superb.
The Oyster Wars of the Chesapeake Bay by John R. Wennersten: This year, I got a grant to raise oysters at my park for educational programs. So, I’ve been brushing up on my oyster wars history to attempt to explain them in all their complexity when doing programs with said oysters.
Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Michael Schumacher: One of the highlights of my year was visiting the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point and seeing the bell of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare: The depiction of Shylock is pretty anti-Semitic, but I did enjoy Portia and Nerissa outsmarting all the men and saving the day.
High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic by Glenn Frankel: I was already familiar with a lot of the history covered, so I must say this book was a little mundane for me. But for someone who isn’t familiar with the Hollywood Blacklist, I would highly recommend this. Also, an excuse to re-watch the masterpiece that is High Noon, is reason enough to read this book.
Images of America: Crisfield, The First Century by Jason Rhodes: I know I say this every year, but read local history!
The Flying Tigers: The Untold Story of American Pilots Who Waged a Secret War Against Japan by Same Kleiner: An adventure novel, in nonfiction form.
Measure for Measure by Shakespeare: The lesson from this play is don’t be a hippocrite.
Left For Dead: My Journey Home From Everest by Beck Weathers: Surprisingly less about the 1996 Everest Disaster than I expected. Instead you get a portrait of a man battling depression and the toll it takes on his family.
Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North by Blair Braverman: I need to read Small Game in 2023.