2022 In Reading: Share Your Reading List from the Past Year, and Plans for the Next One!

by Georgy_K_Zhukov

As is tradition, with the end of one year, and the beginning of another, its time for our little yearly celebration of books! You (probably?) aren't subscribed here if reading is your least favorite thing to do, and I'm sure I'm far from the only one who plows through a large stack of literature over the past year - whether history, other non-fiction, or just a good story.

So, everyone, what did you read last year!? What did you enjoy the most? What was the biggest stinker? What would you recommend to everyone else?

And of course, what is on your reading list for 2023!?


Much like /u/kaiser_matias, this is often one of my favorite threads of the year. I read a lot. Something people might already suspect. According to my book log I read 88 books in 2022, with one book half finished. It’s a pretty even mixture of fiction & nonfiction, with some harder academic stuff interspersed by more pop things. My interest tends to wander all over, so brace yourselves.


  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. I come from an Environmental background originally, and reading it earlier in the year put me on a really fun dive back into the subject. It’s a fantastic perspective on the relationship between plants, humans and the environment, mixed in with some very touching memoir style moments.

  • Following that up was Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction by Michelle Nijhuis. Similar environmental message in its own way, looking at the history of the conservation movement and a selected group of species (and people) that were influential in regards to how we see the world around us, and its importance.

  • Pinpoint: How GPS is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds. by Greg Milner was a pretty fascinating look at the history of mapmaking, and just how integrating GPS has become into our everyday lives. Like a lot of science history, there’s moments that can feel like a comedy of errors all leading up to a major change.

  • The Library: A Fragile History by Andrew Pettegree. It’s a good sized book, but I never found it dry. I read it interspersed with some fiction to which helped everything feel easily digestible. It’s a good history of libraries, and looks at how the concept of it has evolved, and is continuing to evolve, as society changes.

  • Obviously gotta shout out how much fun I had with The Medieval Crossbow by Stuart Ellis-Gorman (Also known as /u/Valkine). Like a lot of times on AskHistorians, it looked at a subject I thought I knew a fair bit about and really just expands it. Lays out all kinds of evidence, or important context, and then meshes it with the stories and narrative so that you really feel like you understand it so much deeper by the end of the book. Its also split really interestingly, so that the physics of how a crossbow works and the history being discussed are laid out in their own sections so that it doesn’t have to keep jumping back and forth.

  • The Smallest Lights In The Universe by Sara Seager. A memoir by a brilliant Canadian astrophysicist. A very solid mix of incredible space stuff, and an incredible woman getting through life. Strongly recommend, and she has a number of really good interviews out on the web that are a pleasure to listen to.

As I write this its occurring to me that I’m in danger of just listing dozens of books, so I’ll contain myself to two more that really resonated with me.

  • First off is The Wave by Susan Casey. Honestly could almost be a horror story, its about the science and history of giant rogue waves. Once thought to be little more then old sailor tales, only to be proven worryingly common. The book alternates between a more science based look at wave physics and their effects on the world, and chapters where the author spends time with world class surfers who live and breath being on some of the largest waves out there.

  • And my final big favorite was We Had A Little Real Estate Problem: The Unheralded Story of Native Americans and Comedy by Kliph Nesteroff. Its hard to really give a good summary, but this is a book that had me laughing or crying, or both, just over the course of a few pages. History can often be horrible, and sometimes the way people deal with that is with comedy and laughter. There’s a lot of moments in this book I’ve thought about often over the last year, and will stay with me for a very long time indeed.


  • The Rivers of London Series by Ben Aaronovitch. Kind of like if Harry Potter grew up and joined the MET police. Excellent urban fantasy, I marathoned my way through the whole series in about a month.

  • The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett. Hands down the greatest fantasy on the planet. I also ran through most of the series over the last year. I can read one of the books in about a day and reread them all about once a year.

  • Step Aside, Pops! by Kate Beaton. Its nonfiction right? Beaton is a fantastic artist, and the book is some of the collected works of her Hark! A Vagrant webcomic. I’ve been a fan of the webcomic for a LONG time, and really enjoy the blend of humor & history she can put into it. Plus there’s often some great Canadian history! Extra win!

Happy ready everyone! May the New Year bring you lots more fantastic books!


I worked on a play about Shakespeare earlier this year, so in the first couple months I did a lot of reading about that era. My two favorite books from that work:

  • The Making of Shakespeare’s First Folio by Emma Smith - about the efforts of Will’s friends, after his death, to collect his plays and publish them in an unprecedented type of book. Without these efforts, far fewer of his plays would have survived, and of those that did, many would be butchered and pirated copies and not the proper text.
  • Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James S. Shapiro - a history—and then debunking—of the authorship question, analyzing how it emerged and why people have bought into and spread it, and ultimately why it can’t be right. It’s a really fascinating story!

For the last few years I've set myself a goal of reading 50 books a year and this year I just barely crept over that line with 51 books. I'm considering downgrading it to 40 books next year to give myself more flexibility for reading the kind of big doorstopper books I think I've been avoiding recently. I reviewed most of the non-fiction books I read this year on my blog at https://www.stuartellisgorman.com/blog/category/Book+Review (and posted in various Thursday threads here, but the blog is easier to link to). Below are some of my favourites both fiction and non-fiction that I read (or re-read) this year.


  • The Jacquerie by Justine Firnhaber-Baker: First book I read this year and still one of my favourites. A fascinating exploration of the history of medieval France's most famous peasant revolt that breaks myths and provides some great context on what it meant to be a French peasant in the 1350s. Excellent read and now available in a much more affordable paperback edition
  • Peacemaking in the Middle Ages by Jenny Benham: I bought this on the title alone and was really impressed with the contents. A great study of how conflicts came to an end, or at least a temporary pause, during the High Middle Ages with some fascinating case studies. I was hugely impressed by it.
  • White Mythic Space by Stefan Aguirre Quiroga: Who doesn't want a fascinating exploration of racism, game design, and popular memory of the First World War? If that doesn't sound super interesting to you I don't know if we can be friends. It also helps that Stefan's writing is stellar (as all good AskHistorians members are no doubt aware) and the book is immensely readable. A+ no notes.
  • Siege Warfare During the Hundred Years War by Peter Hoskins: I did an extended dive into Hundred Years War historiography and while I had a great time with some books, and was impressed by the quality of some older histories, I think this is the one that impressed me the most. I didn't go in expecting much, but I was really impressed with what I found. A reframing of the Hundred Years War around it's sieges is exactly the kind of thing I'm here for and this is a great example of the form.


  • I re-read some William Gibson books, notably Virtual Light and Pattern Recognition and really liked them. Gibson is my favourite author, though, so I was always going to have a good time. Still, always nice to revisit an old favourite and find that you still enjoy it.
  • M.R. James' ghost stories: I always try and read something spooky for October and this month I bought a small collection of ghost stories by medievalist and Victorian author M.R. James and I was blown away. It helps that this is exactly my bag - a spooky story about the horrors arising after you find that perfect manuscript you've been desperately searching for? Sign me up! - but they're very well written. Next year I'm buying a bigger collection.
  • Cosmic Laughter ed. Joe Haldeman: A collection of humorous science fiction stories from the 1970s, I got this as a gift and wasn't sure what to expect but I was really impressed. While not every story is a masterpiece there are some real gems in this collection and I had a great time with it.

This is always one of my favourite posts, one I look forward to the whole year.

According to Goodreads, I read 67 books this year, just over 22,000 pages (not a brag by any means). This covered a variety of topics, from hockey history to the KKK in Canada to the history of the Balkans. With such a variety I wanted to note my 5 favourite books, and why I picked them, so here they are in no particular order:

  • The Lost Prime Ministers: Macdonald's Successors Abbott, Thompson, Bowell, and Tupper by Michael Hill (2022). This covers the four Canadian prime ministers who served between the death of John A. Macdonald in 1891 and 1896, when Wilfred Laurier was elected. John Abbot, John Thompson, Mackenzie Bowell and Charles Tupper are some of the most forgettable prime ministers in Canadian history, and most Canadians probably don't know who they even are. This book serves as a biography for each of them and brings to light what they did, and was really illuminating in that way. I've made a deliberate attempt recently to learn more Canadian history, and this is definitely one that more people should read.

  • Klondikers: Dawson City’s Stanley Cup Challenge and How a Nation Fell in Love with Hockey by Tim Falconer (2021). The story of the Dawson City Nuggets, a hockey team from the Yukon who challenged for the Stanley Cup in 1905. They are known in hockey history for a few things: literally travelling across Canada for the games, including by dog sled (a feat Falconer dismisses as myth), and then losing the two-game series by scores of 9-2 and 23-2; the latter game is by far the most lopsided loss in Stanley Cup history, and included Frank McGee from the winning Ottawa Senators scoring a record 14 goals in the game, again a record (and to top it off McGee was blind in one eye, with the nickname "One-Eyed"). Falconer recounts the build up to the series, and how it came to be, in a riveting story that is more about how the Stanley Cup became a national obsession.

  • Seven Shillings a Year: The history of Vancouver Island by Charles Lillard (1986). I'm from Vancouver Island, and growing up we were not taught a lot about the history of the Island in school, so when I was able to find this book (ironically published on a smaller island nearby), I was excited. Lillard was a local historian, and wrote a solid book here, covering both life pre-contact and then the colonization and development of the island. He also does a good job of not just focusing on Victoria, which is by far the biggest city, and from what I can tell nearly every community on the Island (which is about the size of Israel or Belgium, for reference) is mentioned at least once. I read several books on the history of the Island or related to it, and it was really hard to pick just one here but this will do.

  • Debates on Stalinism by Mark Edele (2020). I wrote about this a few months ago, so am going to copy my review from there: "This looks at the historiography of Stalinism, starting with a series of articles published in the journal The Russian Review in the mid-1980s that challenged the existing narrative, and led to a spat between historians. Edele has biographies of some major figures in the field (Moshe Lewin, Richard Pipes, and Sheila Fitzpatrick each get a chapter, while others also get a good overview), as well as some of the major debates in the field, like totalitarianism in context of Stalin, and about the Holodomor, and most notably a subsection titled "Stalin's penis" that gets into a frank talk about his sex life and how relevant that is. It's got an extensive bibliography as well, and being so recent is a great resource for anyone looking at how the field was shaped."

  • Ice War Diplomat: Hockey Meets Cold War Politics at the 1972 Summit Series by Gary J. Smith (2022). Smith is a Canadian diplomat who served in Moscow during the early 1970s, and ended up playing a major role in helping set up the 1972 Summit Series, an 8 game tournament between Canada and the USSR. He played an active role throughout the series, and recounts this time, with a major focus on the diplomatic side of things (though he recounts all 8 games as well). With the 50th anniversary of the series this year there were several books published on it, but this had a unique view that I really enjoyed, and was captivated by how much work the Canadian diplomatic corps put into this.


One of the problems with writing academic books is that one has to read one's own work (many times) while it is working its way through the process. I spent way too much reading my stuff.

I did begin 2022 with a promise to read some fiction for fun - something I rarely do. I caught up with some classic adventure - just for fun: The Scarlet Pimpernel; The Three Musketeers; A dozen or more Sherlock Holmes Mysteries; a lot of Edgar Allan Poe, and most recently, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

Lots of academic articles and books, but nothing sticks out except a recent release by a friend of mine: Simon Young, The Boggart. This is a great piece of historical work, probing the parameters of folk tradition as it passed through time. Another book - by another friend - Michael; Makley: Imposing Order Without Law: American Expansion to the Eastern Sierra, 1850-1865 - is guaranteed to become a classic.

In 2023 I resolve to continue reading fiction for fun. I have two of my own books I am writing and another that will be going through editing and indexing, so I am afraid I will spend way too much time with dusty tomes and re-reading my work until I can no longer stand it.


It's an hard choice, but keeping only three non-fictions and fictions...


  • De la ferme à la ville, L'habitat à la fin de l'âge du fer en Europe celtique (From Farm to Town. Settlements at the end of the Iron Age in celtic Europe) by Stephan Fichtl. It's an sum on the state of knowledge and typology of Iron Age settlements in northern-western temperate Europe (i.e. Gaul, danubian Germania, Bohemia and southern Britain) along three main lines: urban or rural, fortified or open, agricultural or non-agricultural production. It's updated along recent discoveries and perspectives (such as the "open agglomerations" appearing from the IIIrd century onwards) and serves as a really good manual on the topic.

  • Gallia Comata, La Gaule du Nord, de l'indépendence à l'Empire Romain (Gallia Comata, Northern Gaul, from independence to Roman Empire) Another sum made by a renowned specialist, of the state about the transition in material culture, habitat, religion, institutions, practices, etc. in Gaul as it was before and after the Roman conquest. This transition is well contextualized with back and forth on the state of rural (including climatic) and urban development relations in independent Gaul and stressing the romanisation did not happen in a cultural, political, social-economic vacuum

  • La Grande Illusion : Quand la France perdait la paix (The Grand Illusion : When France lost the peace) by Georges-Henri Soutou. While the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 is the book's capstone, the author looks backwards at French political strategy and prospective war goals as far as 1914 and earlier, and their role in general build-up of the First World War. The illusion there, is the idea in French political, military and diplomatic corps that their demands would be accepted in accordance to their military involvement only to be rebuked by the active (and differently oriented) diplomacy of increasingly involved British and American governments all the while the closest and much more supportive Russian ally collapsed. Unable to decisively weight on Versailles and forge a French sphere in Europe and to commit to renewed military intervention as much to loose their geopolitical illusions in the new balance of power would have made in this perspective, France winning the war, but loose the peace.


  • Gagner la Guerre (To win the war) by Jean-Philippe Jaworski. Winning a war, in a world reminiscent of Antiquity, Middle-Ages and Renaissance Europe all blended together, means more than battle and victory. Trough the eyes of a remorseless protagonist, violent and amoral to the point of sociopathy, self-interest, impulsivity, conspiracies, insanity, politics and mystery are all conflicting and intertwined to give a dark light onto the meaning of winning a war not so much against an enemy, but for oneself. Incidentally written by one of the best French author in the fantasy genre.

  • Le Sang de la Cité - Capitale du Sud I (The City's Blood - The Southern Capital I) by Guillaume Chamanadjian. A fantasy book whose topic is strikingly parallel to what we discuss on AskHistorians : how much bound together are our personal history and History? The City is an overcrowded and immense metropolis, dangerous as attractive, deadly as it is lively : Nox, the protagonist, in service to the powerful Duke, his oratory and literary skills leading him trough poetry and sense of hidden rhythm to discover a different City, empty, misty and home to dangerous monsters.

  • Latium by Romain Lucazeau Humanity is long dead and buried, disappeared beyond hope of genetic resurrection, leaving self-aware ships in its wake : the Vessels, that expanded the Empire further in the stars. Until, facing an alien threat they can't oppose due to the Constraint, their fundamental program, waiting in their stronghold and city of the Urbs, only one last Vessel still clings on the old hope and faith in the quest for restoring Humankind.


This post has inspired me to start listing the history books I read, so for now i will make a small list of what i remember reading completely, not counting the ones I just read part of :

SPQR by Mary Beard

Lots of Peruvian history books :

The Lima that Pizarro Found by Gilda Cogorno

Jose de la Riva Agüero y Sánchez Boquete (1783-1858) by Elizabeth Hernández García

The years of Velasco by Rolando Rojas

The rebellion of Tupac Amaru by Charles Walker (great guy)

The rebellion of Tupac Amaru and Tupac Catari in Tacna by Marcelino Velarde

Lima: Narrative, Society and Space by Roberto Reyes

The challenge of revolution by Carlos Contreras and M. Chocano

The war of Inca reconquest by Edmundo Guillén

The rise of Sendero Luminoso by Carlos Degregori

Recommendation: The Rebellion of Tupac Amaru by Charles Walker, it is written by an American so it should be easier for you to get it. Here you will learn of the other great anti colonial war that was going on in the Americas during the 18 century, alongside the American and Haitian revolution. A war started by a supposed decendant of the last Inca ruler against the borbonic reforms of the Spanish colonial government that ended up leading to a racial war that left whole regions under the torch, abandoned cities and approximately 100 000 casualties in an all out conflict through the andes and high plateaus of Peru and Bolivia.

It's a good introduction to such a complex period of conflict


I'm off to Hellenism-land this year. The podcast is almost through with the Achaemenids and I've been spending the holidays on Alexander the Great, so it's on with the Seleukids:

  • All of the relevant Blackwell Companions forever and always
  • Late Achaemenid and Hellenistic Babylon by T. Boiy
  • A History of Zoroastrianism vol 3 by Mary Boyce
  • Creating a Hellenistic World ed. Andrew Erskine and Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones
  • Iranians and Greeks in South Russia by M. Rostovitzeff
  • And probably everything on this list in some capacity - Derek's lists are all beautiful resources, and if anybody is interested in this time period they're a great place to start learning.

Goodreads says I made it through 131 books this year.

The best? I'm going to cheat and gesture broadly towards Rick Perlstein. I absolutely devoured four of his books on the history of post-war American Conservatism - Before the Storm, Nixonland, Invisible Bridge, Reaganland - and don't ask me to pick a favorite because I thought them all fantastic. He brings a keen eye, and a great voice, making them all joys to read. My only gripe is that the next one isn't written yet.

The worst?

Duelling, the Russian Cultural Imagination, and Masculinity in Crisis by Amanda DiGioia. I found it to be plodding at its best points, and its existence is basically pointless, adding less than nothing to the existing scholarship. She brings up a bunch of things she thinks is wrong about the main book on dueling in Russia... but clearly has done no actual research herself and best I can tell bases her disagreement entirely on a single review of the book by another scholar, and shows no real understanding or ability to engage with the previous work on her own... She of course is happy to agree on any point which comports with her own preferences though. It was a very frustrating book to read, and I deserve kudos for managing to persevere through it.


I'm sorry to say I have not read as much as I wished this year, though I did go through a fair amount of Roman Homosexuality by Craig Williams for an assignment. But now for the holidays I got fine translations of Xenophon's Anabasis and Josephus' Jewish War, which is nice. On the fiction front I have started to read Lord Dunsany's short stories, which I quite like!


I got Persepolis, Saga, and V for vendetta for Xmas so it’s going to be a “graphic” start to the year)