Audiobooks are a huge part of my life. I listen to books the same way many people listen to podcasts and music. I can go through two or three titles a week. As of this writing, I’ve finished 143 audiobooks in 2022. Here are the ones that I enjoyed the most this year.
Note: The titles I’ve selected are not necessarily audiobooks that were released in 2022.
I picked up this book because I wanted to understand “supply chain issues” regarding electronics. It seems that every week or so, there’s a story about some manufacturer raising prices, delaying product launches, or experiencing some other issue due to a bottleneck in microchip production.
Like most books I buy, it wasn’t an exact fit for what I was trying to learn. But I sure learned a lot more than I expected. In addition to having my supply chain issue question answered (a single factory in Taiwan manufactures virtually all semiconductors in the world), I learned a great deal about how essential semiconductors are to our everyday lives.
It’s not something most people think about. But without semiconductors, almost none of the conveniences we enjoy today would be possible. Semiconductors rival oil as the world’s most important resource. And the manufacturer and distribution of these small silicon chips are an increasing point of tension, not just economically but geopolitically.
In Chip War, Chris Miller explains the history of semiconductors, how the technology came to play a critical role in modern life, and why they’ve become the focal point of geopolitics. It’s a must-read for those interested in the history of technology, global economics, and international relations.
Chip War: The Quest to Dominate the World's Most Critical Technology
Learn everything you didn't know about semiconductors and how they're influincing world events.
One of my biggest interests is psychology and personal development. So, I read a fair amount of self-help books. And I’m not alone in that. The self-help genre routinely churns out best-sellers for those who want to improve themselves. Another area of great interest to me is storytelling. As a hobbyist filmmaker, I’m always looking for ways to bring my thoughts and feelings to life. I’ve learned over the years that allegory is one of the most potent tools available to any storyteller.
When I stumbled across How to Fight a Hydra, I was intrigued. It’s the allegorical tale of a peasant seeking adventure and heroism by hunting a hydra that lives near his town in eastern Europe during the Middle Ages. Throughout the story, the hydra hunter encounters many hurdles and setbacks and must learn through experience how to slay the hydra and deal with the fame and fortune afterward. Using the allegory of slaying a hydra as a vehicle for self-improvement impressed me both as a storyteller and a student of psychology.
How to Fight a Hydra is an Audible exclusive audiobook. And it’s quite short–just an hour and a half at 1x speed. If you listen at 1.5x speed, you can finish the book in just under an hour. If you decide to pick up this book, I recommend paying cash rather than spending an Audible credit since the cash price is less than half of your monthly Audible subscription.
How to Fight a Hydra: Face Your Fears, Pursue Your Ambitions, and Become the Hero You Are Destined to Be
Take an adventurous journey to kill a hydra, and apply the lessons learned to your own life.
I am a big fan of Harvard University professor of psychology Steven Pinker. I first discovered him back in 2019 when a friend recommended the book The Better Angles of Our Nature. That book is a whopping 36 hours long, probably the longest audiobook I’ve ever read. But Pinker’s writing style, expert analysis, and deep research hooked me on his work. I began reading through his entire catalog, with several titles becoming books I would listen to over and over again.
Highlights from his bibliography for me include The Blank Slate, The Language Instinct, and The Sense of Style. The latter is a writing style manual that has helped me improve my writing craft tremendously.
So, when Rationality became available on preorder in late 2021, there wasn’t a question that I would spend one of my Audible credits on it. I can’t remember if I finished the book before the end of that year. However, it’s a book that requires multiple readings to retain all the great information it has. It’s an enlightening and entertaining listen that guides you through how to think, common fallacies, and why reason is so essential to our everyday lives. I’ve listened to it at least three times in 2022. And Pinker’s new Audible offering, “Think With Pinker,” is currently on my to-read stack.
Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters
Thinking for yourself is the most critical skill you'll ever develop.
Another point of deep interest for me is religion, myth, and spirituality. And the myths and legends of ancient Greece and Rome have always fascinated me. However, I’ve never been able to get into the ancient poetic sources because my modern brain just doesn’t process them right. That all changed when I discovered that English comedian Stephen Fry had penned a reimagining of the classic gods, including Zeus, Pandora, Prometheus, and more. I downloaded it immediately.
I wasn’t disappointed. In Mythos, Fry does an outstanding job of making the ancient Greek deities accessible and understandable to modern audiences. Plus, it is very entertaining. Fry delivers an enrapturing performance reading this book, which isn’t surprising since he’s one of the preeminent performers of our time. And on a personal level, it’s a high achievement for Fry as a historian, writer, and performer. He excels at all three in this book.
Mythos first came out in 2017, so I’m a few years late discovering this particular book. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Once I was done with Mythos, I was happy to find that Fry had already produced two sequels, Heroes and Troy. The former focuses on the Greek god’s human counterparts, and the latter tells the tale of the mythic Trojan War. I made my way through the entire trilogy this year.
Take a trip back in time and get to know the gods of the ancient world.
I mentioned my interest in psychology earlier. Of all the books I read on the topic this year, The Laws of Human Nature is the most exhaustive and instructive. I became aware of the book’s author, Robert Green when someone recommended his 2015 book, 48 Laws of Power, last year. 48 Laws of Power went on my to-read stack for a few months. I put it off because I was intimidated by its length and reputation for being popular in prison.
When I finally finished 48 Laws of Power, I was impressed by the depth and candidness. However, I felt slightly icky because the book often teaches manipulative and amoral tactics for interpersonal relationships. This makes sense since the book is framed as a handbook for medieval courtiers. I was happy to find that Greene penned a less cynical book about human psychology: The Laws of Human Nature.
This book is an exhaustive treatment of personality types, human motivations, and unconscious habits. It’s a practical guide to understanding yourself and others. It gives tips and tricks on interacting with people and what personality types you should associate with and those you should avoid.
It should be noted that this book is quite long, and it’s not necessarily meant to be consumed like a typical book. Rather, it functions more as a reference guide to be picked up and read when you want to learn how to deal with a specific type of person. But it’s entertaining enough to consume casually when you need a book to listen to.
The Laws of Human Nature
Learn everything you need to know about yourself and those around you.
I don’t often read fiction and almost never write it (except for screenplays for my films). But I love reading about writing as I continually seek to improve my professional craft. So, Consider This by Chuck Palahniuk was only a half-fit for me when I first picked it up. I figured that the author of Fight Club would have some meaningful tips on writing, even if I don’t write prose fiction.
What I found on its pages was different than what I expected. Instead of being a treatise on writing, it’s more of an autobiographical tale of his writing career–although writing advice is plentiful. I’ve gone through this book several times throughout the year. It’s become one of those go-to books I like to listen to when I don’t want to be alone with my own thoughts.
This book ticks a lot of boxes for me. It’s about writing, non-fiction, entertaining, and re-readable. Plus, I’ve found it helpful to improve my storytelling abilities as a filmmaker. I recommend it to all writers, storytellers, and even those who just want to know a little more about the man who created Tyler Durden.
Full disclosure: this is the only book by Palahniuk that I’ve read. No, I haven’t even read Fight Club (but I have seen the movie). I put Consider This in the same category as On Writing by Stephen King. Which, interestingly enough, is also the only book of his I’ve ever read. What can I say? I just don’t read fiction that much.
Consider This: Moments in My Writing Life After Which Everything Was Different
Follow the career of one of the world's most unique authors.
If you’ve followed my articles throughout the time I’ve written for Review Geek, you know that I’m a big Star Trek fan. So, when I learned Nicholas Meyer’s 2009 autobiography The View From The Bridge was available on Audible, it immediately went on my wish list. The memoir of the director of The Wrath of Khan, The Undiscovered Country, and writer of The Voyage Home is too big of a treat for a Trekkie to pass up.
But, with my to-read list so long, and only a single monthly Audible credit to get through them, it seemed like it would be a long time before I got to read this book. However, the wait was cut short when I discovered the library app Hoopla (iOS, Android) and found the book available for free there. I was elated, and The View From The Bridge went straight to the top of the stack.
Nicholas Meyer is as good a memoir writer as he is a filmmaker. The account of his life and career in Hollywood was a fascinating read for me. Not only as a Star Trek fan but also as a writer and filmmaker. Although the chapters about the making of the Star Trek movies are what I go back and listen to the most.
The View from the Bridge: Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood
Any Star Trek fan will love this look behind the scenes of their favorite movies.
I began my career as a technology journalist in 2008. However, most of my writing dealt with reviews. So, I was rarely entrenched in the day-to-day tech news grind until I came on full-time at Review Geek earlier this year. Each day our news editor gives us assignments about what to cover that morning. And something I noticed early on was that Elon Musk’s name came up a lot. In fact, he’s probably the name that came up the most of any Silicon Valley figure.
Every week, there’s a story dealing with Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink, and Twitter. After about a month or so of constantly seeing his name in a professional setting, I realized I needed to know as much about the man as possible. Plus, with feelings running so deep about him and so many stories and allegations about him, I needed to know for myself what was true and what wasn’t.
And again, a library app (this time Libby (iOS, Android)) was there to help. Ashlee Vance’s 2015 biography Elon Musk, was available with no waiting. I listened to it twice in two weeks. I learned all about his childhood in South Africa, his college education in Canada, his immigration to the United States, and his early successes and failures in Silicon Valley. With this context, everything Musk is currently doing makes much more sense. And it’s much easier to see the truth and falsehood about what people say about him and why he acts the way he does.
Admittedly, the book is a bit dated seven years after publication. But it’s still invaluable to understand one of the world’s wealthiest men. More recent works that cover Musk include Elon Musk: Risking it All by Michael Vlismas, and The Elon Musk Mission by Randy Kirk, Lars Strandridder, Brian Wang, and John Gibbs. I haven’t read those books yet, but I plan to. I also look forward to Musk’s upcoming biography written by Walter Isaacson, who has also written books about Albert Einstein, Leonardo DaVinci, and Steve Jobs.
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
Elon Musk has accomplished a lot in his life. Learn how he did it.