My favorite, go-to gift for people around the holidays is to pick out my favorite book that I read in the past year and buy them a copy. As I was reviewing 2022’s book reviews to pick out that gifting book for the recent holiday season, I realized that my selection process might make an interesting post. Granted, everyone and anyone who does book reviews probably does a similar post around this time, but given my…eclectic reading list, I doubt I need fear redundancy.
Choosing just five books proved more of a challenge than I expected, and that’s not even getting into the difficulties of ranking them, especially given the diversity of books that I read. It’s one thing to compare two fantasy books and decide which one you like best, and another and harder task to compare a modern fantasy novel with a translation of a six-thousand-year-old epic and decide which one was “best.” Throw some nonfiction books into the mix, and coming up with a rigorous method of comparison was pretty much a lost cause. I thought about basing it on how many times each review is referenced in the future, but that sounds both boring and inaccurate.
This, therefore, is a completely and utterly subjective list of the five books that I would most want to share with someone else from what I read in 2022.
5. The Epic of Gilgamesh
Reviewed on March 17th, 2022
One of the oldest stories in the world, the Epic of Gilgamesh is a foundational myth that is instructive and illustrative of so many things: historical cultures, religions, societies, morals, storytelling. There are so many different ways that you can approach reading a story like this, especially if you too are a storyteller. There is a reason that this story has endured for so long and underpins so many of the core concepts of modern fiction. It’s the kind of book that anyone who likes stories should read at least once. I might even do a retelling of it at some point in the future.
4. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn
Reviewed on April 28th, 2022
It was a toss-up whether Swordspoint or the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy would be featured in the list, but I settled on the trilogy after much debate (and a cop-out in which I managed to sneak in a mention of Swordpoint, anyway). This is a classic, wonderful work of fantasy that I would put in a list with The Lord of the Rings and the Wheel of Time for series that any aspiring fantasy author should read. Speaking of which, I really need to get around to re-reading Wheel of Time one of these days. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is simply delightful, a cross between historical and epic fantasy, and a worthy entry for this list.
Reviewed on April 7th, 2022
When it comes to classic works of science fiction, Asimov’s Foundation would have to be on the list alongside names like 1984. It is nothing like the recent television adaptation, about which I will only say that it had nice music. This is at least my third or fourth time reading Foundation, and it continues to impress me with its scale of storytelling and its insight into human nature. The concepts at its core are fascinating, and it would have been really difficult to not put it on the list for the year I re-read it for a review on the site. Not that it didn’t have stiff competition.
2. Six Great Dialogues
Reviewed on September 29th, 2022
This epitomizes why making this list was so challenging. How does one choose between listing Aristotle’s Art of Rhetoric or Plato’s Dialogues? Both are works that have lasted into the modern day for good reason, and which everyone should read at some point in their lives. I chose to feature Plato’s Dialogues because of their broader relevance and the deeper philosophy which they discuss. At the very least, you should read the Republic, because it is so often referenced, and so badly misunderstood. After reading it, I no longer believe that most people who reference it have done the same.
1. Bernoulli’s Fallacy
Reviewed on July 28th, 2022
Surprised? I was. Looking back over all of the different books I read and reviewed in 2022, I would not have expected Bernoulli’s Fallacy to make it on a top five list that includes names like Asimov, Plato, and Gilgamesh, much less that it would top all of those works. However, I’m not putting it here because I think Clayton’s statistics exposé will endure for twenty-five hundred years, or because it is a wonderful example of storytelling. It makes the list, and takes the top spot, because of how highly I recommend that you read it. Given how prevalent statistics are in our world today, there is perhaps no more relevant book, and even more than I hope you read all of the other books on the list, I hope you read this one.
That’s it: my top five books for 2022 that I read and reviewed, and would most highly recommend you read soon, if you haven’t already. Choosing was a challenge, but I think it was a valuable exercise, and I intend to repeat it next year. If you need more ideas for your reading list, check out our Books to Read page. For now, I’ll let you get back to reading.