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2022 In Books

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Halfway through this year, I stopped actively using my GoodReads account for various reasons and contemplated adding a “books” section on the site like many other IndieWeb bloggers do. But I didn’t and instead simply wrote down thoughts about the things I read in my journal, which gave me an excuse to ink up the this year for some reason severely underused fountain pen.

Linking from and to pages by hand and having thoughts on paper doesn’t make it easy to compile a neat summary like the last post, personal games of the year 2022. I have no direct access to structured data (year published, amount of pages, yaddayadda), and I honestly don’t care, except that I want to as useless stats are always fun. But useless. So why bother? Wait, I’m confused.

I reverted to manually downloading covers and gathering info this time, but really have to work out a way not to do that. Perhaps adding something recurring (and machine-parsable) under /notes will have to do. The idea is still fermenting, we’ll see how well-baked it eventually turns out to be. In the meantime, here’s a collage of the 20 books I read this year:

The Books of 2022.

Some useful (or was it useless?) statistics pared with the collage:

  • The whole thing is 7559 pages in total, or 378 on average. Which of course isn’t true since some books I couldn’t stand (like Verdwaalde Stad) I didn’t finish and other books are more works of art that you flip through (like The Game Console 2.0), while others are employed to extract specifics (like The Programmer’s Brain). Right, useless.
  • A selection of the cateogires:
    • 6/20 are fiction, of which 83% fantasy. I’ve been meaning to get back into reading more fiction this year. I think I succeeded.
    • 7/20 are philosophy or psychology-oriented.
    • Only 1 is focused on software.
  • The oldest book, The Many-colored Land, is from 1981. The youngest, Ik = Cartograaf, from this year.
  • The longest book, Imajica, is 1069 pages long (the Dutch translation, that is). The shortest, Taal is zeg maar echt mijn ding (it wasn’t my thing), just 212.
  • The most popular books, Tharp’s The Creative Habit and especially Dweck’s Mindset, were ultimately a bit of a let-down with the core message spread out too thin across the pages.

As with the games list, I rate each book from 1 to 5, adhering more or less to the classic GoodReads labeling system—meaning a 2 is still considered an “okay” book, but nothing more. The following books were awarded a 4 (I liked it a lot) or 5 (It was amazing!):

  • 💖 Grand Europa Hotel (Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, 2018)
  • 💖 Indulgence: Around the World in Search of Chocolate (Paul Richardson, 2003)
  • 💖 How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer (Sarah Bakewell, 2010)
  • 💖 The Many-colored Land (Julian May, 1981).
  • 💖 The Crown Conspiracy (Michael J. Sullivan, 2008)
  • 💖 The Programmer’s Brain (Felienne Hermans, 2021)

Books that deserve a honorable mention are Mindset (Carol Dweck), Successful Aging (Daniel J. Levitin), De moord op de kunst (Thomas Crombez). Books I intentionally left out in the above “best of” rating are the coffee table books you buy to flip through and marvel at but don’t necessarily buy to read and have your cognitive abilities caressed. I love Bitmap Books, and the plump Game Boy: The Box Art Collection is no exception, but it would be unfair to place next to How To Live, for example.

If I had to recommend just one book, I’d go with How to Live in an heartbeat. Bakewell’s excellent introduction into the writings and life of Montaigne is so very relevant these days and its attempt to draw you in and make you a better person leaves me wondering what path I should pursue in the future. To me, the best books are the books that make you think. Second place probably goes to Pfeijffer’s Grand Europa Hotel, a critique on mass-tourism and nostalgia-obsessed Europe written in the form of a novel that’s quite heavy—and hefty—to deal with but extremely rewarding (and sad).

As for what to read in 2023—I have about 4 cookbooks that are still waiting to be opened and finally deserve some attention. Our weekly diet could do with a bit of variation. It seems that my book reading diet could benefit from that as well.

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I'm Wouter Groeneveld, a Brain Baker, and I love the smell of freshly baked thoughts (and bread) in the morning. I sometimes convince others to bake their brain (and bread) too.

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