Books that helped me expand my horizons, learn about a diverse set of topics, and transformed my perspective on life and the world.
At the start of 2022, I made it my mission to read at least 12 non-fiction books cover to cover.
Looking at my TBR (to be read) list, I realized that I had around 122 books in it. That’s not manageable! So, I went through a vetting process to decide which books were worth reading in 2022.
Here are a few tests the book had to pass to make the cut:
- An interesting genre — either something I am interested in or something I have never explored before
- Challenges my opinion — I want to read from both sides of a coin, so if the book is on a topic I know about already, I tried my best to pick a perspective that’s opposite to my own.
- New domains — The book must have something new to offer!
- Growth — Above all, the book should help me grow as a person, personally or professionally.
Now that you know my thought process behind choosing these books, here are the top 5 that I absolutely loved in 2022.
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
This book blew my mind!
It takes you through a brief history of humankind. It dives deep into the past and tells us how we, the human race, came to be.
The book is thought-provoking, educational, and an absolute page-turner.
In the past, I had a certain schema of history books in my head — boring, plain, tedious. This book couldn’t be farther from that.
Yuval takes you through a journey. It reads like a very interesting narrative. He doesn’t just spit facts at you. He takes you on a rollercoaster ride, and you end the ride truly changed as a person.
Combing through my book notes, here are a few key topics I learned about in this book (definitely not an exhaustive list):
- Timeline of History
- Why do we overeat?
- Ancient Forager vs Modern Men
- Homo Sapiens are Ecological Serial Killers
- The Darkside of Agriculture
- How Do Democrats and Republicans Think Differently?
- Cognitive Dissonance
- How Research and Business Are Related?
- How Did Global Powerhouse change from Asia to Europe?
- Who Discovered the New World? How?
- How Did Colonies From?
- Free Market
- The Dark Side of Capitalism
- On Being Busy
- Rat Race
I won’t spoil the book for you by sharing direct quotes from the book. However, I hope just the breadth of topics you see above makes you curious.
If you want to start 2023 off with a good book, please pick this one! You won’t regret it.
The Story of More by Hope Jahren
I wanted 2022 to be the year where I learn more about the environment, climate change, and how individuals and corporations are contributing to global warming.
Most books on this topic were very dense. I didn’t want my first foray into this field to be too intense. That’s why I was looking for a more “humane” perspective.
The Story of More by Hope Jahren definitely delivered on that!
In this book, Hope brilliantly lays out how we arrived at this point in time from a climate perspective. She lays out how our (human) timeless pursuit of more got us into this mess.
She appeals to our emotions. It’s not just numbers and graphs. She talks about life, human ambition, and human greed. She also talks about how 20% of the world contributes to almost 80% of the causes of global warming.
The book was a great introduction to climate change. I have a few more on this topic pipelined, that approach the topic from both perspectives. Looking forward to reading them next year.
Once again, combing through my notes, here are some of the bigger themes from the book:
- Population Growth
- Earth provides us with plenty
- Sustainable Agriculture
- Use of Pesticides
- Animal Farming
- Eating Animals
- Less Meat & Starvation
- Eating Fish
- Food Waste
- Fossil Fuels
- Renewable Energy
- Global Warming
- Consuming Less
If you are interested to learn about climate change, I definitely recommend this book!
Things My Son Needs To Know About The World by Fredrik Backman
This was a surprisingly good read. I never planned on reading this book.
One of my favorite books YouTubers recommended this author, and I just happened to decide this is the book from Fredrik Backman that I will give a go.
It’s a very short read. I finished it in 2 days.
This book collects the personal stories of a father and formats them in a way, where the father is writing to his son about fatherhood.
On a personal note, I have been living away from my parents since 2015. It’s been 8 years now! Not only has it been 8 years, but my crucial years where I did all my adulting were done away from my parent’s comfort and safety.
Being so distant from my parents, during my tough times I did feel lonely. I questioned a lot of things I think they did wrong in my upbringing. I got salty at times. However, this book changed all that.
The book shows the vulnerability of fatherhood. The book shows you how parents are not superheroes. They are just like us, flawed individuals who tried their best to give you the best life possible.
One quote, that really hit home for me was:
I just want you to know that I love you. Once you are older, you will realize that I made an endless line of mistakes during your childhood. I know that. I have resigned myself to it. But I just want you to know that I did my very, very best. I left it all on the field. I gave this every ounce of everything I had.
Here’s another one:
All kids sooner or later reach a point in their lives where they realize their dads aren’t actually superheroes. I am not stupid. I just wish for it to take as long as possible. I wish we could at least have a couple of Sunday afternoons together, you and I. Something that’s ours.
I cried reading this book. I cannot say the same for a lot of books (if any).
The Coddling of the American Mind by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff
Before talking about this book, let me just say that this was the most intense, albeit eye-opening book, that I have read this year.
The book talks about the iGen — people born in and around the 1996 and 1997 (aka me). It talks about how the attitude of parents and social media shaped many of these individuals to be more sensitive.
The book walks us through many intense events that have happened in the past few years, especially on college campuses with regard to free speech. It talks about the cancel culture, and the inability to have an honest dialogue about sensitive topics in today’s world.
The book is definitely controversial. However, I did agree with the majority of the points the authors make. I have some strong views about this book. I will hold onto those until a future blog post that I am working on related to this topic.
I don’t think I have to sell you this book. The book caters to a very niche audience. If you fall into that group, you know, and you should definitely buy the book!
Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy
This is one book that definitely had a huge impact on my vegan journey so far.
I became vegan after watching a YouTube documentary on animal agriculture. It broke my heart. I couldn’t be a part of it anymore. Hence, I went vegan, cold turkey.
Since then, I have been educating myself on this topic. Given the culture, I come from, being vegan is a fascinating topic for people, whenever I tell them about it.
Usually, my responses to their myriad of questions have been very free-form. However, now that I am learning more and more about it, my answers have gotten more nuanced and I am actually being able to have a conversation with people about this.
The book introduces the concept of “Carnism”, which is the belief system that conditions us to eat certain animals. It brings to light the ethical invisibility related to being best friends with dogs and cats while treating cows, chickens, and pigs like non-sentient beings who are nothing but numbers in a brutal assembly line.
The book digs into the philosophy of our relationship with certain animals. I loved the author’s perspective. I could relate to this book so much. Even outside animal cruelty and veganism, the book talks about some moral principles. I will leave you with one of those below:
Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
If the problem is invisible…then there will be ethical invisibility.
The book does not dive too much into the grueling details of the horror practices inside slaughterhouses. The author approaches the audience from a more philosophical point of view.
There you go, folks!
I absolutely loved these books in 2022. I plan on reading twice as many books next year, so definitely give me a follow here if you are interested to learn more.
If you are looking for book recommendations for 2023, these are some definite good ones to get started with. Otherwise, I have a few separate book recommendation blog posts coming up in the next few weeks.
I hope you found this a valuable read and have some takeaways that you can go ahead and implement in your wonderful lives.
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