Books of 2022

Inspired by Ian Brooks, a list of all the books I’ve read this year. (Started on twitter and now imported over here to finish it off). It turned out to be many more than I expected in fact and it has been really motivating to keep track – I always have the idea I’m not reading enough but that isn’t really true.

In the course of my fediverse explorations I’ve discovered Bookwyrm, so I will probably repeat this exercise in 2023’s over there

First up Gaia Vince’s wonderful Transcendence: I feel this one rather got lost in the Covid19 mess and it’s *such* a shame. A really beautifully written book on what makes us human.

https://twitter.com/ruth_mottram/status/1483576293836922890

Second, was a foray into the wonderful world of mosses with Robin Wall Kimmerer. This was a book I enjoyed so much I bought a second copy to lend to a friend as I didn’t want to lose my own copy.

https://www.blipfoto.com/entry/2936720363742037063

https://twitter.com/ruth_mottram/status/1490049839052296193

Third, and staying with biology, Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangled Life, a book I enjoyed, but not as much as I expected given the subject is quite fascinating. It felt like there was a bit too much author and not enough fungus. However the dense endnotes more than made up for it. A very cool subject and really a good introduction. I could have used a bit more technical content though.


https://twitter.com/ruth_mottram/status/1503850420694884361

Four was a return to a book started long ago – I finally finished Gabrielle Walker’s book Antarctica, right before a field trip to Greenland. A really great book, full of excellent science and details that show a real love of the continent – though note a few reservations about an infamous scientist who features heavily in the book in the second tweet.

https://twitter.com/ruth_mottram/status/1505480011565961217

Five: Explaining Humans by Camilla Pang. An unusual book, I would never have chosen this if it hadn’t been for the Royal Society science book prize and that would have been a loss. Really brilliant insights into how some neurodivergent people see the world and at the same time a great introduction to science. Huge recommend.

https://twitter.com/ruth_mottram/status/1525133857552576513

Six: brilliant, funny, horrifying, tragic, sobering. Hard to describe withou sounding overwhelmingly grim, but worth a read: “This is going to hurt” by Adam Kay

https://twitter.com/ruth_mottram/status/1528854241221046272

Seven: as I originally tweeted, I read this in the depths of COVID19 fever, and I don’t remember much about it now unfortunately but the impression of a refreshing wander down the lush Irish river remains. John Connelly’s Stream of Everything

https://twitter.com/ruth_mottram/status/1531016385341579265

Eight: an old and battered favourite also finished on the sickbed, Dorothy L. Sayers Busman’s Honeymoon
https://twitter.com/ruth_mottram/status/1534655245267124226

Nine: the final part of Patrick Leigh Fermor’s wonderful trilogy travelling through Europe. A book I could hardly bear to finish, the whole journey was so beautiful ly written about a time and a Europe that has vanished forever.
https://twitter.com/ruth_mottram/status/1534655257149677575

Ten: Nothing but the truth from The secret barrister- another of the funny but utterly shocking genre that apparently the public services in the UK in the 2020s excels in.
https://twitter.com/ruth_mottram/status/1535633890957791234

Eleven: back to novels and what can I say about this incredible world created by Susannah Clarke in Piranesi? Sumptuously beautiful, you just have to read it. I would never have picked this up but my local bookshop (in Copenhagen!) recommended it and that is as good an argument as any for frequenting my local bookshop in person…
https://twitter.com/ruth_mottram/status/1540587959791112192


Twelve: perhaps not the most relaxing holiday read but ultimately hopeful: Kim Stanley Robinson’s The ministry for the future. Parts of it were far too real, other parts perhaps unrealistically utopian (and in the light of FTX what exactly *is* that blockchain thing about?). Nonetheless an important work, and the man himself is a rousing speaker I saw and who signed my book at the bloom festival


https://twitter.com/ruth_mottram/status/1557618288825442304

Thirteen: the first of several children’s/ young adults books on my list – this is a Danish classic but also translated into many languages now. I find it a fascinating concept: what if someone could see your private shame?

https://twitter.com/ruth_mottram/status/1560890907070717952

Fourteen: who doesn’t sometimes want to go and walk around Spain? An interesting and honest meditation on life, careers and trying to have it all from Alastair Humphreys.
https://twitter.com/ruth_mottram/status/1560892000681041920

Fifteen: a terrible war ripping through Europe, refugees fleeing the Russian advance and an overloaded ship sailing away through bitter winter weather in the Baltic. Sometimes a little too close for comfort, it certainly explains a lot about our current situation and it’s based on the true but laregly unknown story of the world’s worst ever maritime disaster. This is also YA territory – I read it to assess suitability as a gift for young relatives. It’s extremely well written, though flags a bit at the end. One of those books that stays with you for days after.

https://twitter.com/ruth_mottram/status/1560892000681041920

Sixteen: And now we enter territory not tweeted. I discovered eReolen’s international section this year. eReolen is the Danish Library system‘s excellent audio and ebook loan service, and it turns out that via the organisation Overdrive who run the Libby app, you can borrow books from all over the world. A revelation. Anyway number sixteen was the classic Ursula LeGuinn “A wizard of Earthsea, a book I really couldn’t put down. I’m slightly amazed I’ve never read it before. Everything they say about it is true.

Seventeen: again in the underrated classics that I’ve somehow never read category – Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianne Wynne-Jones. I came to this via the Japanese Studio Ghibli animated films and again this was read via eReolen. How had I never even heard of this author even though I grew up in the UK? Really brilliantly imaginative, reading it again to kids as a Christmas book this year.

I almost forgot number 18, which is somehow a little strange as it is a book that directed me from a wavering vegetarian towards veganism. I’m not yet (and may never be) a full vegan, but Henry Mance’s “How to love animals” is a clear-eyed look at the emotions, conflicts and contradictions in our relationships with animals, including dog breeding, slaughterhouses, how to deal.with exploding deer numbers and the ecological cascades that result. Very thought-provoking and although I didn’t agree with everything, it at least helped to visualise and resolve some contradictions in my personal philosophy. This is a good review in the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/may/01/how-to-love-animals-by-henry-mance-review-the-case-against-modern-farming

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