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Retrospective 2022: Books

My reading list reflects gifts I’ve been given, places I travel to, things I want to learn, book reviews I’ve read, and a few books I’ve wanted to read again. I started off the year with State of Terror, which put me into a state of terror because its author Hilary Clinton has the inside scoop on how the government operates. If Louise Penny had written the book on her own, perhaps I wouldn’t have been so affected. This book could be true!

My favorite books of the year are Lessons in Chemistry (fiction) and The Code Breaker (nonfiction). Lessons in Chemistry, a gift from my niece Koren, is a witty novel about a woman scientist and her struggle to be a scientist in the male-dominated science world of the 1960’s. It is quite amusing but also sobering to think about the challenges faced by women in science at that time. The Code Breaker is about Jennifer Doudna, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020. Women have made progress since the era of Lesson in Chemistry! Walter Isaacson does a marvelous job telling her story and weaving in the many people who worked with her to develop gene editing. It is fascinating and a must-read for anyone living in the 21st century.

All the years I’ve been visiting the Calistoga area, I never investigated Robert Lewis Stevenson. So I decided to read his account of him living there with his new wife Fanny. After finishing Silverado Squatters, I visited the RLS museum in Calistoga and found it mesmerizing.

My trip to Ireland got me thinking about tackling James Joyce’s Ulysses, but it has gotten such a bad rap for being incomprehensible (and I’ve not found anyone who has read it) that I decided instead to read Dubliners. Joyce paints a vivid portrait of life in the city. I enjoyed the book a great deal. To complement my foray into Irish literature I read The Celtic Twilight by William Butler Yeats and the modern novel The Sea by John Banville.

While perusing books in Elliott Bay Bookstore during a visit to Seattle, I came upon a staff pick All Systems Red by Martha Wells, which is part of an extended sci-fi series called the Murderbot Diaries. I followed the adventures of Murderbot over a few books. That got me to thinking about old books that I never read, so I picked up Flower for Algernon, Daniel Keyes, which is quite good. How did I miss that when I was younger?

Kevin Major is a Canadian author, from Newfoundland, so I read his three mysteries set in the St. John's area. Kevin was on the expedition staff of an Adventure Cruise I took around Newfoundland. Margaret Atwood was on the expedition staff of the Atlantic Canada cruise I took just before the Newfoundland cruise, so I read her book of poetry, Dearly, after meeting her onboard and getting the book signed. It's a wonderful book!

I read The Stowaway, Wild Sea, and Terra Incognita, all non-fiction, in preparation for my trip to Antarctica. Sara Wheeler's writing is marvelous. The Piano Tuner is a re-read for me, but selected by a book club I joined recently. I read it almost 20 year ago when it first came out and enjoyed it even more the second time around.

  1. State of Terror, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny

  2. The Lincoln Highway, Amor Towles

  3. Oregon Trail Stories: The Accounts of Life in a Covered Wagon, various

  4. Silverado Squatters, Robert Lewis Stevenson

  5. The Anthropocene Reviewed, John Green

  6. Transient Desires, Donna Leon

  7. Prelude to Foundation, Issac Asimov

  8. Coraline, Neil Gaiman

  9. Learning to See Creatively, Bryan Peterson

  10. Understanding Exposure, Bryan Peterson

  11. The Searcher, Tana French

  12. The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead

  13. Treasure Island, Robert Lewis Stevenson

  14. Violin Conspiracy, Brendan Slocum

  15. Ghosts, Henrik Ibsen

  16. The Sea, John Banville

  17. New People, Danzy Senna

  18. Born a Crime, Trevor Noah

  19. Overboard, Sara Paretsky

  20. Dubliners, James Joyce

  21. One for the Rock, Kevin Major

  22. Two for the Tablelands, Kevin Major

  23. Three for Trinity, Kevin Major

  24. Bret Farrar, Josephine Tey

  25. On a Quiet Street, Seraphina Nova Gladd

  26. Dearly, Margaret Atwood

  27. The Heron’s Cry, Anne Cleeve

  28. Bone Key, Les Standiford

  29. The Celtic Twilight, William Butler Yeats

  30. Dead Man in the Orchestra Pit, Tom Osborne

  31. The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood

  32. All Systems Red, Martha Wells

  33. Artificial Condition, Martha Wells

  34. Rogue Protocol, Martha Wells

  35. Behold the Dreamers, Imbolo Mbue

  36. Exit Strategy, Martha Wells

  37. Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes

  38. Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus

  39. The Round House, Louise Erdrich

  40. The Piano Tuner, Daniel Mason

  41. The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race, Walter Isaacson

  42. The Stowaway: A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica, Laurie Gwen Shapiro

  43. Wild Sea: A History of the Southern Ocean, Joy McCann

  44. To Kill a Troubadour, Martin Walker

  45. Champagne: The Farewell, Janet Hubbard

  46. Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica, Sara Wheeler

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