At the very beginning of the year I created a Reading Schedule for 2022 note topped with: “Goal is 20 books. 5 Japanese books.”
As I looked over the snowy countryside in Canada last January, I was thinking about how I could maintain my connection to Japan and improve my language learning from afar. I thought I would set my reading goal a little low to account for the time I would need to read some books in Japanese. Little did I imagine I would be moving back to Japan in a mad rush just a few months later. Furthermore, as I engaged with my new work, I read more on distributed decision-making, organizational theory, computer history, and corporate strategy. Then there were a few literary novels I read as part of a small online book club I participated in. And of course, with trips to Portugal and Malaysia this year I just had to do a little background reading before traveling!
Needless to say, I veered heavily off course in 2022. But that’s okay! Goals are not laws.
Be that as it may, the book I started off the year with turned out to be the best nonfic book I read all year. I have recommended it countless times: The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity
by David Graeber and David Wengrow. I reckon this book ranks up there with Debt in terms of potential impact. It shows just how narrow our political imagination has been these last 250 years when you look at how humans have organized themselves over the past 40,000 years.
The other book I read this year (recommended by one of the book club memebers! Shoutout!) which also acts as a good wedge to get people out of their complacency is Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future. This is the kind of speculative fiction that is a thought experiment run through to a logical conclusion. KSR takes a number of climate crisis disaster scenarios and solutions, and eschewing monocausal taxiphilia, runs them all at once. Thus the book weaves a complex story of how our society could come out the other end of our climate crisis.
The climate crisis is the number one problem that faces society today, and many tech workers that have been turned off by the last couple decades of optimizing ad revenue or perfecting the next SaaS business in the name of “changing the world” have started to think about how to make a real impact with their skills. Reading Ministry motivated me to join two communities to help me learn not only what is currently being worked on, but also where I might be able to put my skills. See:
Anyways, I read a lot of good books this year. It was a good one. You can see the whole list: Goodreads: Chad’s 2022 books by rating →
A quick note on Film and Television
It has not been a particularly good year for film, on the otherhand. I watched just 17 films, none worth 5 stars, and only one garnered a “like” on my Letterboxd.
I did dip into a few prestige television shows (and even a few Marvel and Star Wars ones) that were making the watercooler discussions online. Above and beyond them all was Andor, the slow-burn spy thriller that just happens to take place in the Star Wars universe. I was all-in on this show: watching it week to week, listening to recap podcasts, and watching YouTube breakdowns – very impressed with the all around quality, and very much looking forward to next season.
Although I hit my reading goals in purely numerical terms, and did read a lot of engaging things, I don’t feel like I read enough. I mean, this was a crazy year for me, so there is that. Also, I listened to about a billion podcasts this year. I delved deep into the backlogs of a number of new-to-me shows, most to do with work-related topics involving tech trends, critical tech analysis, remote work, etc. (f you are interested I can share, of course). The biggest impact on my reading has been my lack of a commute. For the past 6 months my commute has been just 5 minutes on foot! That has meant a lot less audiobook time than I am used to.