Books that stuck with me from 2022

Some books I liked that I read in 2022:

Shady Characters: the Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks by Keith Houston: A book that’s tailor-made for my interests. Still, Keith Houston took a topic that might’ve been quite dull and turned it into something lively, interesting, and chockablock full of fascinating historical tidbits.

The Master of Go by Yasunari Kawabata: Reads like a novel, but it’s the recounting of the last Go match of Honinbo Shūsai. No understanding of the game of Go needed. A window into a different time and place. Deeply thought-provoking.

Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson: A rollicking ride from start to finish. I know Neal Stephenson’s not for everyone (he can really go a bit overboard with the technical detail and digressions) but I enjoyed it quite a bit. Stayed up way too late reading it a couple of nights.

By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolaño: The story of a Catholic priest’s collaboration and deliberate ignorance of the violent excesses of Pinochet’s coup and government. Extremely well-written (or well-translated, I should say).

The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman: A detailed and astonishing recounting of the lead up to WW1 and its first month. If you like history, Tuchman is at the top of her game here. (I also heartily recommend her history of Europe’s 14th century: A Distant Mirror.)

Days of Rage: America’s Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence by Bryan Burrough: For me, this extremely even-handed history of 1960s and 70s USA helped to demystify a period of time that I have long felt pretty ignorant of. 

The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman: The protagonist reminds me a bit of the thief character in Ladyhawke. Clever and fun, this book is fun romp through an original fantasy world. A perfect travel read.

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turon: A 17th century whodunnit on a ship at sea! This one kept me guessing the whole time. If you like whodunnits, definitely check this one out.

The Rings of Saturn by WG Sebald: A nameless character walks around the English countryside and ruminates on things that he sees and his own life. Deeply satisfying. There’s some amazing writing here.

Bleak House by Charles Dickens: This is so good. Like swimming in an ocean of words. I did not expect a detective of kindness. (For another detective of kindness, see Benoit Blanc in Knives Out and the Glass Onion.) Not my favorite Dickens novel, but I really really liked it.

Aspects by John M. Ford: An unfinished novel by an exceptional writer. There’s some interpersonal nuance captured in this book that I don’t often see.

Babel: or the Necessity of Violence: an Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by RF Kuang: Basically, if the Harry Potter books were written by someone exceptionally well-read and interested in exploring the way that something like magic would reshape and contort a country and the world and the people in it.

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