2022’s best reads


Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Musings
Boooooooks

Normally, by this time of year, I’ve been sent down several delightful rabbit holes created by good folks’ end-of-year reading lists. (Morten’s 2021 list alone cost me a fortune, for which serious thanks pal.) I’ve not seen those lists circulating so far this year, though, so I might as well get the ball rolling.

This is just a small list: while I tend to go through two or three books a week, I don’t tally my reading on anything like Goodreads, nor do I gamify it against a goal. (I don’t tally or gamify anything in my life, in fact, and I’m far happier for that.)

So what follows are some of the reads which really stood out for me.

Work reading: books

  • 2022 was all about internet governance for me, so the year’s essential read was Four Internets: Data, Geopolitics, and the Governance of Cyberspace by Kieron O’Hara and Wendy Hall. It compares and contrasts the state of the global internet by the four value systems which dominate it: those from Silicon Valley, DC, Brussels, and Beijing. If you read nothing else from this list, read that one.
  • Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hackers by Andy Greenberg is a history of Russia’s cyberwar on Ukraine, which of course long precedes the physical one. He writes it like the geopolitical thriller it is.
  • While it’s centred on the US political, legal, and cultural context, Race After Technology by Ruha Benjamin is essential reading for anyone involved in policymaking.
  • I love a bit of dark political wargaming, and The Next Civil War by Stephen Marche ticked that box. He explores several ways the US could indeed go in that direction, in ways kindled by simple sparks rather than radical shifts. You should read books like this to help you think creatively about policy outcomes.
  • Free Speech: A Global History from Socrates to Social Media by Jacob Mchangama was an excellent successor to his podcast and deserves a bigger readership, particularly among those who both discovered the issue and became international policy experts on it within a few random hours this summer.
  • The Missing Cryptoqueen by Jamie Bartlett: let’s face it, the podcast was audio crack. And this crack addict happily bought the book the day it came out. It’s still not enough. More, dammit!

"The Human Rights Reader", 1989 printing of the 1978 editionWhile it’s definitely not new, I was over the moon to find an identical copy of the high school book which started *gestures around* all of this for me: the 1989 printing of the 1978 Human Rights Reader. It’s probably been updated since then but I wanted this one and I finally found it. It’s scraped, taped, bashed, and marked up: exactly as a used book should be.

Work reading: articles

Feet-up reading

  • The Stranding by Kate Sawyer: my god this got to me. If you liked Station Eleven, you’ll love this.
  • Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller: a beautifully written novel about how the devoted relationships between elderly parents and their middle-aged children are often really a lifetime of coercive control.
  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir: quite similar to his The Martian, except for … nah, won’t spoil it. Hard science mixed with laugh-out-loud comedy. Absolutely loved it.
  • Femlandia by Christina Dalcher: this was one of those books that you think about more after you’re done reading it. You should also read her Vox, which was amazing.
  • The Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield (yes, the astronaut): this was my hot-summer-sunbathing-with-a-glass-of-wine read. 10/10 would recommend both experiences.

Header image: me in Waterstones. Hey! I was a Russian literature minor so I’m allowed to make that joke. The poster is fair use off the collections at RISD. Speaking of Rodchenko, if my college ex could return my Soviet film textbook to me after 23 years I’d be grateful. Like you’ve even dusted your shelf in that time buddy.

The Author

I’m a UK tech policy wonk based in Glasgow. I work for an open web built around international standards of human rights, privacy, accessibility, and freedom of expression. The content and opinions on this site are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of any current or previous team.