I read 114 books in 2022. That was nearly 50 books less than 2021 but with the world reopening I guess I spent a little more time exploring rather than reading stories. I don’t actually set an annual goal and I don’t try to read as many books as possible, but I do enjoy taking notes throughout the year and reflecting on my favorites. Here I detail my favorite authors, titles, and topics from last year’s reading list.
2 Kindle Books
0 Physical Books
If you’re interested in my previous 2 years of Reading Lists, the links are below.
Table of Contents
Favorite Book(s) Of 2022
As in previous years, my favorite “book” actually became my favorite “author”. After I read one title I immediately checked out and read their others. Actually, in 2022 I ended up with favorite author(s) as this happened to me 3 different times.
In no particular order, errr, in the order that I read them, my favorite authors in 2022 were:
Brad & Sheena Van Order
I first learned of Sam Manicom after I published my 2021 reading list and a friend recommended I give Sam’s books a try. Sam is a British motorcyclist who took off for a trip around Africa and ended up riding around the world. I started with his first book, Into Africa and couldn’t stop. As soon as I’d finished it I downloaded Under Asian Skies and then Distant Suns and reluctantly wrapped it up with Tortillas to Totems. I was honestly sad when the series was finished, and the book gods must have felt my distress because they quickly gifted me another favorite author.
I’ve known about Brad & Sheena Van Orden’s book Drive Nacho Drive for years. It’s about traveling the PanAmerican Highway in an old VW Westy campervan like I used to live in. For some reason I’d never picked it up but when I found it on Audible I downloaded it. I loved the stories and introspections of life on the road and as soon as I finished it I bought their followup, 927 Days Of Summer. After the PanAmerican they continued on around the world and as their circumnavigation of the globe came to an end I was once again sad it was over.
Finally, near the end of the year the deity of books granted me one last hurrah and I stumbled into Bernard Ollivier’s book Out of Istanbul. After retirement Oliver set off walking with the goal of trekking 7,200-miles along the Silk Road. As soon as I read the first part of his journey I downloaded Walking to Samarkand and Winds of the Steppe and sprinted through them.
All three of these authors speak my language of travel, adventure, curiosity, empathy and humility. I love their humorous stories of life on the road as well as their deeply personal introspections of the world and how by an accident of birth, they, like me, were given the incredible opportunity of travel.
Other Author Deep Dives
In addition to my favorite authors from last year I did 3 more author deep dives.
Sally Denton was recommended to me by my brother for her book The Profiteers. This investigative look into the Sackler Family and their impact on the opioid crises was interesting and well written. Next I read The Colony about the 2019 murders of a group of Mormons living in Northern Mexico and wrapped up with The Bluegrass Conspiracy about a drug mafia in Memphis in the 1980’s. Interestingly, the last one is the same story which the new movie Cocaine Bear is based on. Sally’s book was good enough that I doubt I’ll go out of my way to see that film.
Craig Childs is an author I’ve read many times before, starting with his book House Of Rain about Chaco Canyon. This year I read The Secret Knowledge of Water, Apocalyptic Planet, and Finders Keepers. He’s a fantastic author focused on indigenous people and nature in the American Southwest and although his writing can be long and sometimes hard to follow I appreciate his research, personal stories and perspectives on the world.
Finally, I read two books by Brad Meltzer last year, The First Conspiracy and The Lincoln Conspiracy. It’s not really a “deep dive” but I did enjoy the unique and somewhat secretive events that he chronicled from our nation’s history.
Travel & Adventure
Travel & Adventure books are regularly my favorites and these titles were the best I read in 2022.
Alex Bescoby: The Last Overland
The Last Overland is a celebration of another journey chronicled in the book The First Overland where a group of British guys drove two Land Rover Defenders from London to Singapore in 1955-1956. Alex drove one of the very same Defenders back from Singapore to London in 2019 and I loved his tales of adventure, challenge, hospitality and culture. I enjoyed it so much that I picked up a copy of The First Overland and am reading it now.
John Donor: The Greatest Beer Run Ever
This very nearly was my favorite book of the year, and not just because it has “beer” in the title! This is a true story about a guy from New York City hopping on a ship in the middle of the Vietnam War and heading over to take a few of his neighborhood friends a beer. Sometimes the story is so fantastical it seems made up, but it’s all true and this is a great video interview with the guys in 2015. Also, the book inspired the new film The Greatest Beer Run Ever which is a really good adaptation from the text. I recommend reading the book and then watching the movie!
Mary Anne Mercer: Beyond the Next Village
Wow. Mary worked in Nepal in the 1970’s and gives a great look into the country and customs at that time. She also talks about being a solo female traveler and her stories of adventure and culture were fascinating.
Erika Fatland: Sovietistan
Nearly one of my favorite books of the year Erika details her travels in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. I’ve been growing obsessed with this part of the world and this well written account of her travels through the region helped whet my appetite for more!
Guirec Soudee: A Sailor, A Chicken, An Incredible Voyage: The Seafaring Adventures of Guirec and Monique
At first I wasn’t a fan. I’m not sure if it was Monique the hen or Guirec’s writing and introspection, but something definitely won me over! This story of a guy and a chicken sailing around the world should definitely be on anyone’s travel and adventure reading list.
Alexander Maitland: Wilfred Thesiger
A long book about the iconic Thesiger. I’ve enjoyed Wilfred’s books and this tome written about his life was interesting as well.
Ben Moon: Denali
Grab a box of tissues and curl up with your pup for this one. I knew Ben’s book was going to be good and if you haven’t watched his film Denali go do that right now. In addition to being an incredible athlete and fantastic photographer Ben is such a great storyteller that this book will keep you focused til the end.
After Travel & Adventure books Non-Fiction History is my jam. These titles about a variety of topics topped my 2022 list.
Irving Stone: Men To Match My Mountains
I have no idea how I’d not yet read this. Irving’s brick of a book written in the 1950’s chronicles the development of the American West and I’m sure it’s a must have for any American History bookshelf. So well written and interesting, if you haven’t read it, although I’m sure that if you enjoy history you have, I’d definitely add it to your list.
John Mack Faragher: California
I downloaded this after Men To Match My Mountains, same timeline but focused only on California. A little shorter and a great followup to Irving’s book.
Stephen Brown: Scurvy
This one came from a sailing and marine binge I was on and I really enjoyed the well written research and stories on scurvy and how the medical mystery was solved.
Candice Millard: River of the Gods
Millard’s research on Burton and Speke exploring the Nile River in Egypt in the 19th century was captivating and interesting to read.
Dean King: Skeletons of the Zahara
I’d read an article about the shipwrecked crew who were taken as slaves in Africa by Arab tradesmen and the full account by King was worth the read. That being said, it’s not a light topic and the human suffering was hard to swallow at times, but still a very interesting historical event.
Des Ekin: The Stolen Village
Another story about slavery, this time pirates from Algiers and armed troops of the Turkish Ottoman Empire sailed in and captured an entire village in Ireland at night and took them back to North Africa where they remained slaves. Only 2 people ever returned home. The suffering can make you question humanity but the other books in this list highlighting the goodness of people make up for it.
Lucy Adlington: The Dressmakers of Auschwitz
Talk about hard to read. This book went deep into the lives of women in Auschwitz and how those who had the skill to produce clothing stayed alive by stitching.
Buddy Levy: American Legend
I enjoy Buddy’s books and this was yet another good one. I’d read a few other titles about the same events so American Legend focused on David Crockett fit right in.
Richard A Ruth: A Brief History of Thailand
I read this book while traveling in Thailand and Cambodia and it gave more meaning to the places, temples, people and customs that I was experiencing.
Bret Baier: The Rescue The Republic
Bret’s book is about Ulysses S. Grant and his service to the United States in the 1870’s. I thought it was well written and interesting and in my notes I compared it to David McCullough’s book John Adams, one of my all-time favorites.
Gordon Kerr: A Short History of Coffee
I always love “the history of” genre and while this isn’t one of my top favorites it is still worth a read. Especially if you like coffee.
From history I graduate, or devolve, into current events. I definitely lean to one side in politics but I also think it’s important to be open and research other beliefs and approaches. Sometimes I separate Current Events from Politics but this year I’ve combined them.
Nick Offerman: Where the Deer and the Antelope Play
Also nearly at the top of my list and maybe the only reason it’s not #1 is because I was laughing so hard I forgot to bump it up. Hilarious book about our culture, politics, current events and history, Offerman has a great way of putting things into perspective and I throughly enjoyed his ideas.
Jonathan Franklin: A Wild Idea
Incredible book about Doug Tompkins. Hard to read about the day he died but the coolest part is that one of my favorite campsites during my South American Bicycle Tour was in his Pumalín Park.
Jennifer Robertson: Bitcoin Widow
Thrilling account of a true and timely story. It’s not so much about Bitcoin as it is about wealth, greed, excess and the important things in life.
Neil Bradbury: The Taste For Poison
Stories of people using poison on other people from the 1800’s to today. Well written and for such a dark topic it was sometimes funny and enjoyable to read.
Ben Coates: Why The Dutch Are Different
Hilarious. After reading one of Ben’s books last year I enjoyed this one as well.
Kristin Kobes Du Mez: Jesus and John Wayne
Reminded me of how I grew up in a conservative community and church. Not everyone in religion or the rural right are bad, but there are so pretty bad apples out there highlighted in this book.
Tim Mak: Misfire NRA
A good well written history of the NRA and the money and political power behind the organization. Obviously this will be polarizing based on your political leaning, but either way I found it interesting.
Tucker Carlson: The Long Slide
Some interesting thoughts about the journey of journalism in America.
If Craig Childs wasn’t up in my Author Deep Dive list he’d be here.
Caitlin Doughty: From here to Eternity
An interesting look into life and death and how different cultures approach it and what happens to bodies when we’re gone.
I don’t read as many personal motivation and self help books as I used to, but it’s good to get refreshers a few times a year.
Kevin Hart: The Decision
I’m still laughing! Read it, it’ll brighten your day. Just be aware of the profanity.
Scott Carney: The Wedge
I enjoyed Scott’s other book What Doesn’t Kill You. I thought this title wasn’t quite as well written but it includes several very interesting case studies and approaches to physical fitness and performance.
Annie Grace: This Naked Mind
I really enjoyed this and agreed with Annie’s diagnosis of alcohol. While it makes complete sense I have not quit drinking beer, maybe I’ll have to listen to it again.
Robin Sharma: The 5 AM Club
I’ve been able to join the 5 AM Club for short stints, but haven’t made it a longterm lifestyle yet. The idea of waking up early and honing your productive hours is valuable, even if it’s not always at 5 AM.
Oliver Burkeman: Four Thousand Weeks
Time management for living a purposeful life. There were so many good points and ideas that I plan to read it again. If I combined it with the 5 AM Club and This Naked Mind maybe I’d be unstoppable!
Ed Young: An Immense World
A great book about animal behavior and how humans are attempting to mimic animal senses with technology.
Susan Casey: The Devil’s Teeth
Really well written book about the great white sharks around the Farallon Islands off the coast of California.
Neil deGrasse Tyson: Starry Messenger
Neil is always a good writer and story teller. This book puts our world, politics, warring nations and humanity into perspective with the universe.
Wiliam R. Forstchen: One Second After
The only fiction book I read last year. It was good, but even though I enjoyed it I still have a hard time getting into fiction.
As you can probably see, I love reading non-fiction especially travel, adventure, history, and biographies. I still get most of my audiobooks from the public library using the Libby and Hoopla apps, but supplement it with an Audible membership for new or hard to find titles.
Last year I only read 2 kindle books (and 0 paper books), I hope to bump that back up this year but half way through 2023 it hasn’t worked yet. Audiobooks are just so easy to listen to while I’m traveling, driving, running, working out, cooking or sitting on a street corner watching the world go by.
If you have any suggestions or recommendations for books feel free to send them over. I’m always adding to my “to-read” list and love getting new tips!
2020 = 158 books
2021 = 161 books
2022 = 114 books