By Claire Booth
As we start a new year, I wanted to take a look back at the old one and what I ended up read on the nonfiction front. I keep terrible track of the fiction I read—I think because I do it so many different ways: buy real books, buy ebooks, check out both kinds from the library, borrow from friends. But with nonfiction, I tend to read ebooks because my ereader is easier to use late at night. Here’s what I did in 2022.
Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs, by Camilla Townsend
I started off the year with what turned out to be one of the best books I’ve ever read, a history of the Aztecs from their perspective. Taken from journals and writing done in the window of time when Aztec children were taught to read and write by Spanish priest but still had living relatives who knew the stories and ways of life from before the European invasion. It’s fascinating and heartbreaking.
The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story, by Douglas Preston
You might know him as half of the thriller duo Preston & Child, but he also travels the world doing things most people could only dream of. Here, he travels to the Honduran jungle to take part in the discovery of a prehistoric city in an unexplored valley. Naturally, he gets more than he bargained for.
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century, by Kirk W. Johnson
This one was both nonfiction and crime. Johnson tells the best kind of true crime read—full of extraordinary characters, quirky, and so unbelievable it has to be true.
Origin: A Genetic History of the Americas, by Jennifer Raff
Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem, by Simon Singh
The Writing of the Gods: The Race to Decode the Rosetta Stone, by Edward Dolnick
Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War, by Howard W. French
The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time, by Maria Konnikova
This book isn’t about confidence. It’s about cons. It’s an excellent window into the kind of mind that doesn’t have a problem with taking every penny you have. It’s turned out to be a very useful reference when I’m developing characters.
Unmasked: My Life Solving America's Cold Cases, by Paul Holes
Ancient Bones: Unearthing the Astonishing New Story of How We Became Human, by Madelaine Böhme, Rüdiger Braun, Florian Breier
An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us, by Ed Yong
This was a beautiful book. The writing was beautiful, the subject matter was beautiful, it makes me happy just thinking about it right now. Read this book.
The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry That Forged the Medieval World, by Shelley Puhak
Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture, by Ross King
God's Shadow: Sultan Selim, His Ottoman Empire, and the Making of the Modern World, by Alan Mikhail
If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal: What Animal Intelligence Reveals About Human Stupidity, by Justin Gregg
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