50 Books in 2022

| |

I read 50 books in 2022, almost all of which were just on my little phone screen via my library’s ebook collection. It was an especially rich year for heartfelt memoirs and fascinating nonfiction. I also decided to sketch all my books on my little notebook bookshelf, in the order I read them.

Below are some mini-reviews for a couple favorites. You can also see my favorite reads from previous years here: 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 20152014, 2013, 2012, and 2011.

Best Books of 2022

Lost and Found book cover 1. Lost & Found by Kathryn Schulz. 5/5 book review An absolutely beautifully written memoir filled with wonderful connections stretching across the book in the author’s meditations on loss and love. Thoughtful, profound, and delightful.

“In the end, this may be why certain losses are so shocking: not because they defy reality but because they reveal it. One of the many ways that loss instructs us is by correcting our sense of scale, showing us the world as it really is: so enormous, complex, and mysterious that there is nothing too large to be lost—and, conversely, no place too small for something to get lost there.”

“The first problem that love presents us with is how to find it. But the most enduring problem of love, which is also the most enduring problem of life, is how to live with the fact that we will lose it.”

“This radical discrepancy between the scale of our own lives and the scale of the rest of existence can leave us feeling two different ways. One of them, akin to the feeling of losing something, is that the universe is dauntingly large and we are terrifyingly insignificant. The other, akin to the feeling of finding, is that the universe is dauntingly large and yet here we are, unimaginably unlikely and therefore precious beyond measure.”

What My Bones Know book cover2. What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma by Stephanie Foo. 5/5 book review Powerful memoir about complex trauma, mental health, and ultimately, hope and healing. Foo’s writing is clear, courageous, and full of compassion.

“What is important is to approach all of these interactions with curiosity for what that truth is, not fear. He said I should approach difficult conversations with an attitude of “What is hurting you?” instead of “Have I hurt you?”

“Maybe I had been a human—flawed and still growing but full of light nonetheless. All this time, I had received plenty of love, but I’d given it, too. Unbeknownst to me, I had been scattering goodness all around like fun-size chocolates accidentally falling out of my purse as I moved through the world. Perhaps the only real thing that was broken was the image I had of myself—punishing and unfair, narrow and hypercritical. Perhaps what was really happening was that, along with all of my flaws, I was a fucking wonder. And I continue to be a fucking wonder.”

Fuzz book cover3. Fuzz by Mary Roach. 5/5 book review Such a specific and fascinating topic: the interface between wild animals and human laws. Told in a straightforward and often amusing manner, and leading down all sorts of paths that resist easy answers. You might just find yourself reconsidering our place in the universe alongside the rest of the animal world.

“I present all this not as evidence of the silliness of bygone legal systems but as evidence of the intractable nature of human-wildlife conflict—as it is known today by those who grapple with it professionally. The question has defied satisfactory resolution for centuries: What is the proper course when nature breaks laws intended for people?”

“Let’s ask the most rational driver of all: the autonomous car. If it slams its brakes, does it only do so when no one’s tailgating? If it swerves, does it do so only if the path is clear? If either criterion is missing, will it go ahead and run straight over a beagle or a skunk? I posed these questions to Google/Waymo’s self-driving car media relations person, but she refused to have relations with me. I got no answers and no one to interview, and soon she stopped replying altogether. Somewhere in the middle of our standoff, one of Uber’s autonomous vehicles, traveling 43 mph, plowed into an Arizona pedestrian without braking or swerving. As if she were a squirrel. Seems like they don’t have the answers, either.”

Four Thousand Weeks book cover4. Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman. 5/5 book review Four thousand weeks is the average human’s lifespan. Burkeman provides A radical reframing of time and our relationship to it. This goes beyond ‘seize the day’ or productivity tips and instead explores what it means to embrace the limits of our reality rather than constantly live in denial of our finitude. That constant theme is played out in myriad specific examples that speak to modern life.

“The universal truth behind my specific issues is that most of us invest a lot of energy, one way or another, in trying to avoid fully experiencing the reality in which we find ourselves. We don’t want to feel the anxiety that might arise if we were to ask ourselves whether we’re on the right path, or what ideas about ourselves it could be time to give up. We don’t want to risk getting hurt in relationships or failing professionally; we don’t want to accept that we might never succeed in pleasing our parents or in changing certain things we don’t like about ourselves—and we certainly don’t want to get sick and die. The details differ from person to person, but the kernel is the same. We recoil from the notion that this is it—that this life, with all its flaws and inescapable vulnerabilities, its extreme brevity, and our limited influence over how it unfolds, is the only one we’ll get a shot at.”

“Once again, the seemingly dispiriting message here is actually a liberating one. Since every real-world choice about how to live entails the loss of countless alternative ways of living, there’s no reason to procrastinate, or to resist making commitments, in the anxious hope that you might somehow be able to avoid those losses. Loss is a given. That ship has sailed—and what a relief.”

Call Me Athena book cover4. Call Me Athena by Colby Cedar Smith. 5/5 book review A beautiful novel, written entirely in verse. I happened upon it via our hotel’s book program with Source Booksellers in Detroit, and what a delightful find it was. A tender journey alongside a daughter of Greek and French immigrants in 1930s Detroit, inspired by the author’s own grandmother.

“I find my sister
in the garden.
She’s holding a small bouquet of wildflowers.
I don’t know why I picked these.
They will wilt by tomorrow.
I put my hand on her shoulder.
Think of all the words that could comfort.
None of them seems right.
She holds the flowers out to me.
They would have been happier staying right where they were.”

“The truth is
even though
Modern. American. Women.
choose their husbands, they still have to serve them.
And they are tied to their houses
like an eagle held by its master’s tether.”

Do you see anything here that you loved or hated? Have you read any great books this year? I’d would love to hear your recommendations!