Favorite Books of 2022

Favorite Books of 2022

As the Simple Thread team grew in 2022, so did the list of books that we’ve collectively read. We rounded up a few of the favorites from a few of our team members that were read this past year and wanted to give the gift of sharing with them you all this holiday season.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Team Member: Robert Beatty

Genre: Science Fiction

Everyone is the (super)hero of their own story, right? I’m sure this is doubly true if you stumble upon a way to actually give yourself superpowers, which is exactly what happens in this story. The discovery made by the main characters changes their worldview in dramatic fashion and it is up to the readers to determine whether those changes are for better or worse.  This comic book-esque novel is full of captivating characters and revelations that keep the pages turning.

The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket by Benjamin Lorr

Team Member: Justin Etheredge

Genre: Nonfiction

Who would have guessed that one of the best books I read this year would be about groceries? I certainly didn’t. But The Secret Life of Groceries turned out to be a fascinating deep dive into tnot just the grocery store chains, but also into the people and supply chains that support them. The author worked at a Whole Foods, rode with an extremely quirky long-haul trucker, snuck into grocery warehouses, gave a first-hand account of the Thai shrimp industry’s involvement with human slavery, dug into the ineffectual U.S. food safety and certification regimes, embedded with activists who broke into livestock production facilities, wrote a fascinating history of Trader Joe’s (and the origins of the grocery store concept), followed an independent food producer as they navigated the bizarre world of grocery food purchasing, and explored deeply how our obsession with organic/fair trade/artisanal food has grown and how that has shaped our relationship with food over the last 50 years. And to top it all off, the author was a wonderfully entertaining writer. I can’t recommend it more highly if you’re into this kind of book.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Team Member: Derek Heilmann

Genre: Science Fiction

Looking for some cozy sci-fi about a tight knit spaceship crew? Look no further than Becky Chamber’s fantastic novel, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, the first book of the Wayfarers series (fear not, each book is a stand alone novel so you don’t have to get too invested). This book was a really nice change of pace from the blood and guts/doom and gloom science fiction that I’m used to reading. The crew of the Wayfarer are hired to “tunnel” to a new member planet of the Galactic Commons (think space European Union) but that isn’t really what the story is about. It’s about the long slow journey the crew has to take to get to the starting point of the actual job, a planet populated by the incredibly aggressive species known as the Toremi. Instead, the story is driven by the characters themselves, using each of their relationships and pasts to tackle a myriad of topics including gender, sexuality, race, and politics. If you love sci-fi and are looking for a change of pace this is the book for you.

Grokking Simplicity: Taming complex software with functional thinking by Eric Normand

Team Member: Andrew Webb

Genre: Programming

This book was found after specifically seeking out an intro-to-functional-programming-book that maybe I’d be able to understand…or grok. This is that book. And because it was targeted at me ( or those like me ) its examples are in Javascript ( don’t worry, the author apologizes ). I was delighted to pick up some new foundational tools for very pragmatic and applicable functional skills.

It does a wonderful job of doing what its title says. It teaches how to approach programming problems with functional thinking with a very light touch on some larger functional programming ideas. Because of its aim, it’d likely be way too long, slow, and lacking for someone already familiar with FP knowledge. But it’s an excellent “if you read only one, read this one” book on functional programming.

The Murderbot Diaries: All Systems Red by Martha Wells

Team Member: Joseph Glass

Genre: Science Fiction

Who among us hasn’t felt the grinding drudgery of menial tasks, the powerless angst of being a faceless corporate cog, and the constant, nagging anxiety that at any second we’ll be unmasked as a sentient cyborg murderbot with illegal free will?

Well maybe we haven’t felt that last one.

All Systems Red is a sci-fi novella about Murderbot, a loveable security cyborg with free will, several thousand hours of soap operas videos and severe social anxiety. It’s a quick, entertaining read well worth your time.

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

Team Member: Nick Agliano

Genre: Fiction

The End of the Affair was probably my favorite book that I read this year. It’s a 1951 novel by British author Graham Greene. It’s short, but it packs a whole lot of life and narrative into its 160 pages. The story follows the main character, Bendrix, as he navigates an affair which is, well, coming to an end. It uses what I think is a mix of absurdism and dark comedy to explore some heavy themes of love and hate.

The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

Team Member: Justin Etheredge

Genre: Nonfiction

In the wake of the pandemic I decided to read a few books about disease outbreaks (yeah, yeah, my wife agrees, I’m a weirdo). My favorite was The Hot Zone, which starts off by telling the interesting and mysterious history of filoviruses (Marburg and the viruses in the Ebolavirus genus). After this the main story centers around the Reston virus, also in the genus Ebolavirus, that was discovered in 1989 at Hazelton Laboratories in Reston, VA. While Reston virus ultimately ended up being non-lethal to humans (for reasons still unknown), the story of its discovery and the events that surrounded it are a terrifying look at what could have happened in the suburbs of Washington D.C. if this virus had been as lethal as other Ebola strains. I don’t want to give away too many details, but suffice to say, this book is a real eye opener to the risks we face from future viruses.

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