I know this blog doesn’t do a lot of book stuff, but I do have some book reviews out there.
And there will be at least one more coming in the next month!
So I thought it would be cool to do a “Great Books Read in 2022” post just to let you know what I’ve been up to when I haven’t been gaming.
My Goodreads Reading Challenge I set for myself for 2022 was 55 books. I exceeded that by reading 61!
I did cheat a little bit, with a couple of novellas, but I’m still proud of that achievement.
I was going to do “the best books read” in this post, but I think I’m going to instead do just five interesting books that you may want to pick up and read yourself. That will let me spread the genres out a little bit.
I hope you’ll let me know some of the stuff you’ve read in the comments section.
You can check out every book I read in 2022 here.
Also, I’m not going to highlight the Peter Ash books by Nick Petrie, since I’ve already done a whole post about them. Though I will say that I’ve now read all of them (I hadn’t read the last two, I think, when I wrote that post) and they are all just as good.
On that note, let’s begin!
The Expanding Blaze: How the American Revolution Ignited the World, 1775-1848 by Jonathan I. Israel
This book was published in 2017.
This was an amazing look at the American Revolution and how it inspired other people around the world. The book focuses on the “social, cultural, and ideological impact on the rest of the world” between revolution in the Netherlands to the Central/South American revolutions, as well as revolutions in Europe. Some of those revolutions were unsuccessful, but this book looks at how the American Revolution inspired these people to think that freedom is something they need to fight for.
The book also looks at these revolutions in the context of the new American nation. How was the French Revolution perceived in the newborn United States? Was Napoleon a popular figure in the States? What about other revolutions in Ireland and other parts of Europe?
A fascinating book that I definitely recommend.
The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End by Robert Gerwarth
This book was published in 2016.
World War I ended on November 11, 1918 with the armistice between the Central Powers and the Entente powers. This is when the regular fighting was complete.
But for some people, the war really didn’t end.
The Vanquished talks about the immediate legacy of World War I. Not the legacy that led to World War II, but the immediate aftermath for a large portion of European peoples.
Countries on both sides of the war were ravaged by violence and revolutions. Millions died across Central and Eastern Europe.
Whole empires had disappeared (the Austria-Hungarian Empire, for example) and a number of small countries emerged from it, torn by violence.
This book takes place between 1918 and 1923 as the European order was settled, at least for the next 20 years.
The Ottoman Empire disintegrated, resulting in great upheaval in southeastern Europe. The book talks about the situation in Greece, for example, as well as in the Baltic countries as German Freikorps faced off against the Soviets after that revolution.
A fascinating book that I highly recommend.
Tiamat’s Wrath by James S.A. Corey
This was published in 2019
Moving away from History books, I’m on a mission to finish all of the Expanse novels after watching the entire TV series.
I’m almost done, having read everything up to Auberon (one of those novellas I was talking about earlier).
Tiamat’s Wrath is the 8th book in the 9-book series, so I only have one to go!
What I found interesting is that the TV show ended at a perfect time in the novel series, as the last three books jump forward in time a number of years.
The new Laconian empire has taken control of the entire Earth system as well as the gates to almost 1300 different worlds, but things aren’t necessarily looking so hot for them. There is unrest on the empire’s homeworld, something’s going wonky with the gates, and the crew of the Rocinante is scattered, resisting the empire in many different ways. Captain James Holden is a prisoner on the homeworld and doing his part to try and sow discord.
This series is amazing if you like science fiction books, and this one is just as good as the rest of them. The time jump was a bit jarring as I was reading the books fairly soon after the previous ones, but I got used to it.
I’m really anxious to see how the story ends (but not so anxious that I will avoid reading other books to finish it…it will happen in 2023, maybe my next book!).
Indigo by Loren D. Estleman
This book was published in 2020.
Estleman is more known for his Amos Walker mystery books (and I love them, having read his latest, Cutthroat Dogs, in 2022).
But I’m more partial to his Valentino books, of which there are six. All of them are brilliant.
This series of books is just drenched in old Hollywood nostalgia, referencing classic movies from the Noir era as well as other visual masterpieces.
Valentino is an old movie restorer at the UCLA Film Archives working for a cantankerous old man who’s now married to a “feisty yet somewhat flakey” law student. Together, along with his medical examiner girlfriend who indulges his old movie obsession and tries to keep his feet on the ground a bit, they get caught up in mysteries that always seem centered around old film reels.
Indigo wallows in its Noir-ness (yes, I made that up). Valentino is offered the chance to bring the old film Bleak Street to the archives, a sixty-year-old film that was never released because the studio didn’t want to lose any more money. It’s star, Van Oliver, who was rumored to have ties to the Mob, disappeared shortly after its production. The UCLA Film Archives wants a sensational story to go along with the finding of the film, so tasks Val with finding out what happened to Oliver.
All of the books in this series are great, easy reads. They’re not as gritty as the Amos Walker books. Instead, they’re just tons of fun.
A Red Line in the Sand by David A. Andelman
This book was published in 2021.
Let’s go from pulp novels to current day events for our last entry (or at least current events with a little bit of history to them).
Andelman is a columnist for CNN as well as a veteran correspondent with the New York Times and CBS News.
In A Red Line in the Sand, Andelman looks at the history of red lines drawn to ostensibly prevent bad actors around the world from making things worse. Inevitably, they fail (most of the time, anyway), and Andelman explores how they have.
There’s always Munich just prior to the Second World War as a classic example, or the red line that President Obama drew in Syria for chemical weapons and how that ended up being ignored. There were red lines for Korea and the South China Sea and many others.
Andelman explores not just the history but the political aspects of these red lines and how they could have been more effective, or maybe they shouldn’t have even been drawn at all. How might future politicians learn from these failures and the occasional successes?
It’s an excellent book that’s educational and provides a look into the world that might be coming.
These five books are well worth checking out, but I have to say that I enjoyed almost everything I read this past year.
I read a few Star Trek books, some excellent mystery novels (I’m almost caught up with the riveting Inspector Lynley series by Elizabeth George). Barbara Hambly is one of my favourite authors and I’m enjoying catching up with a couple of her series that I’ve fallen behind on.
Anything in this list of books that you’d be interested in?
What did you read last year?
Let me know in the comments.