Bruno Lauwers

A year of reading in review, 2022 edition

It’s been over a month since the New Year’s celebrations, but since I was traveling I hadn’t come around to publishing the review of last year’s reading list.

To start you off with the bad news: I didn’t get around to the Divine Comedy (again), the Intelligent Investor, and the Elements of Computing Systems (also, again).

As for a lot of people 2022 was quite a hectic year, with changing priorities over time. That doesn’t mean I only read six books this year, but I did only read six books on the list.

Now without further ado, my notes on the different books. They are approximately in the order I finished them.

Algorithms to live by - Brian Christian & Tom Griffiths

As the first book I managed to finish this year, this book didn’t disappoint. Although I’d say that the chapters get a bit less insightful as you go through the book, it makes you look a little different at the world. Every time I’ve been looking for a parking spot, I’m going through my memory of what would be the right way to approach this according to this book. It’s also written in a very clear and fun way, which helps you remember a lot more during your average day to day.

All in all a recommendation from me, although it would be a candidate to just have in your bookcase until you run into a problem, instead of reading it cover to cover.

Ready Player Two - Ernest Cline

In the post where I introduced my readinglist, I mentioned I was hesitant to put this book on my list. Because this is so obviously a sequel to a book that wasn’t really written to get a sequel, it had all the signs of a one-trick pony doing more of the same trick. And in all honesty, it was exactly that. More nerdy trivia, more treasure hunts, more of the same protagonist.

But did that make this a bad book? Maybe. Did I enjoy it though? Yes I did. As the story pretty much started where the previous one left off, it brought me right back into its world full of 80’s and 90’s memorabilia, references to video games I used to play as a kid, and into a world which a 15 year old me would’ve gotten lost in for sure. I’m looking forward to the next book of the author, but please don’t write another sequel.

Project Hail Mary - Andy Weir

Yeaaaah so this one was interesting. As a big fan of the Martian, I figured this would be similar to that one. Trying to be as realistic as possible, but still sci-fi. And it was. For the first part of the book. Then things started to escalate quickly. I can’t say too much about this without giving away too much of the plot. It was still very interesting to read though. You’ll have to find out for yourself!

The book is completely written from the point of view of the protagonist, a high school science teacher turned astronaut because of pure coincidence. The book is very well written and manages to reel you in right until the end. Andy Weir does it again!

Supermarket - Bobby Hall

Being the first novel of hip hop artist Logic, I was very curious about what this book would bring. It’s an easy read, it takes the reader in and you really feel for the protagonist. I figured out most of the plot quite quickly, but it was still entertaining. The tone of storytelling also really speaks to me. I’m looking forward to his next work, being an album or another novel.

The Every - Dave Eggers

Another sequel to a book I really enjoyed on this list. The Every brings back all the crazy ideas for the future that made the Circle so popular, but more over the top. And I can’t really say it adds a lot of value. The plot isn’t as interesting as in the Circle, the ideas aren’t new anymore, and the characters aren’t very well developed because of how the story is set up. This made me still need to think about which person was which over halfway through the book. Let’s not add a part three to this, okay?

The Black Swan - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

I’m going to be very honest here. There haven’t been a lot of books that took more effort to finish than this one. Was it bad? No, absolutely not. The idea it conveys is interesting and makes you look at modern day statistics in a very different way. I don’t feel as confident in my investments in the stock market either, that might be something to ponder over during this year?

So why did this take so long to finish? I think it’s partly me, but the book didn’t help either. I obviously read all the fun books first last year, waiting to finish this one until the last part of the year. But even though I thought the idea of the book was very interesting, the tone of the book bothered me. The author seems very full of himself, which drips off the pages. This is funny for a chapter or two, but after that it just gets annoying. Especially if the same idea gets drawn out over and over again. I think everyone should read this book. Once.