With the demise of Facebook Notes, I wanted to preserve my annual year-end lists of all the books I’ve read in the past year. So if you’re looking for recommendations, you can find them all on this page.
My 2022 reading list was … kind of all over the place, just like the rest of this chaotic “life event” of a year. And while I didn’t visit all seven continents (or even two) in person, I traveled there in spirit through these books. Our year began with us living in a big gingerbread house in the Sonoran Desert with two elderly cats and two cars, and ended in a small, picturesque apartment on an island in San Francisco Bay with one indomitable cat and sharing one car. A year of love and loss and so much change, but we’re so happy to be back in California again.
My book journey gradually became lighter as we emerged from the stress of moving and settled in to our new digs, where I devoured some interesting books about our new home — highlighted by Howard Bryant’s outstanding “Rickey,” which was as much a story about a generation or three of Black excellence in Oakland as it was about its namesake, Rickey Henderson. My friend Lincoln Mitchell’s expertise on San Francisco politics and sports in the late 1970s was also insightful, as was the late Michelle McNamara on the Golden State Killer.
Further away from home, two of my favorite books of the year were “Endurance” (a story I first learned about in an IMAX film years ago) and “Lawrence in Arabia.” I was tickled to learn Shackleton’s lost ship was rediscovered earlier this year in Antarctica and that Alf Lansing’s classic book still packs a punch. Scott Anderson’s book on T.E. Lawrence is much more recent, but a riveting and well-researched narrative about one of the 20th century’s most enigmatic characters.
I was 40 years late to Ken Dryden’s “The Game,” which often appears on lists of the best sports books ever written; now I understand why. It’s phenomenal. So was Kate Masur’s “Until Justice Be Done,” on the fight for freedom and Black citizenship in early America. Never let it be said that “nobody knew any better at the time” about slavery, segregation, voting rights, or any other battle for human equality. Many others did know better at the time, and that includes today’s conservative reactionaries who wish to take away full citizenship for my friends and loved ones, too. Don’t ever let them get away with it.
The very best book I read this year was “Killers of the Flower Moon,” by David Grann. I have no idea if Martin Scorsese’s upcoming film is going to live up to the hype, but as always: read the book first. An absolute force of nature on a story that deserves so much more attention than it gets in American history.
Also highly recommended: Margalit Fox’s “The Confidence Men”; Matt Haig’s “The Midnight Library”; Mark Armour/Dan Levitt’s “Intentional Balk”; and Clayton Trutor’s “Loserville”.
I was a bit disappointed in Erik Larson’s first popular history book, on the 1900 Galveston hurricane. Amor Towles’ most recent novel was less engaging than “A Gentleman in Moscow” but better than “Rules of Civility”. Couldn’t quite get into the Maisie Dobbs series, either.
Without further ado, here’s my full reading list for 2022:
- The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles
- Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History, by Erik Larson
- Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, by Anthony Bourdain
- I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, by Michelle McNamara
- Until Justice Be Done: America’s First Civil Rights Movement, from the Revolution to Reconstruction, by Kate Masur
- Loserville: How Professional Sports Remade Atlanta—and How Atlanta Remade Professional Sports, by Clayton Trutor
- Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing
- Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? A Story About Women and Economics, by Katrine Marçal
- Oakland Noir, edited by Jerry Thompson and Eddie Muller
- The Marlow Murder Club: A Novel, by Robert Thorogood
- The Confidence Men: How Two Prisoners of War Engineered the Most Remarkable Escape in History, by Margalit Fox
- Rickey: The Life and Legend of an American Original, by Howard Bryant
- Intentional Balk: Baseball’s Thin Line Between Innovation and Cheating, by Daniel Levitt and Mark Armour
- Strokes of Genius: Federer, Nadal, and the Greatest Match Ever Played, by L. Jon Wertheim
- Clark and Division, by Naomi Hirahara
- Epic: John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, and the Greatest Tennis Season Ever, by Matthew Cronin
- Willie Stargell: A Life in Baseball, by Frank Garland
- The Game, by Ken Dryden
- 20th Century Ghosts, by Joe Hill
- Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, by David Grann
- Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East, by Scott Anderson
- The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
- Maisie Dobbs, by Jacqueline Winspear
- The Giants and Their City: Major League Baseball in San Francisco, 1976-1992, by Lincoln A. Mitchell