Over the course of 2022, I read approximately 37 books. I say approximately because it is completely possible (and completely probable) that there’s one or two that I read this year but forgot about, or incorrectly assumed I had read it in a previous year. Regardless, below is a short review for each one of those books containing my overall thoughts and opinions on it. This list is in a loose chronological order, but only very loosely; mostly, they’re just listed as I happened to remember them when reviewing my bookshelf. In any case, here is a review of every book I read in 2022:
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
“A Brief History of Analytic Philosophy” by Stephen P. Swartz
A good introduction to the main thinkers, topics, and areas of analytic philosophy. While it isn’t necessary to have any background in philosophy before reading, the book would benefit you a lot more if you have read some other words (and other histories of philosophy) before opening this one up. Swartz did a good job here, and I recommend this book to anyone looking to get into the subject.
“Tractatus Logico Philosophicus” by Ludwig Wittgenstein
I had started the Tractatus in early 2021, but never finished it. It was reading the book above that inspired me to push my way through the rest of it, and I feel that reading it did benefit me quite a bit. There really is no other book like the Tractatus, and even though I don’t agree with many of the ideas presented (nor did Witgenstein himself later in life), I have a respect for the book itself. Not for the faint of heart, but well worth the effort spent.
“Cynical Theories” by James Lindsey and Helen Pluckrose
By the nature of the subject matter of the book, it isn’t the most interesting read from cover to cover. Nevertheless, it is still very important for tracing and detailing the emergence of the dominant “wokism” cultural forces that we see today. For that reason alone, “Cynical Theories” is worth a read.
“The Vintage Mencken: The Finest and Fiercest Essays of the Great Literary Iconoclast” gathered by Alistair Cooke
A great collection of Mencken’s essays and writings. Mencken is one-of-a-kind, and many of his cultural criticism still cuts sharp and deep decades after his passing. If you haven’t read anything by Mencken, you are doing yourself a serious disservice and this would be a great place to start.
“Knowledge, Reality, and Value” by Michael Huemer
What Huemer has created here is an introduction to philosophy that is actually worth its salt. Most of these types of books are tepid and sterile, but Huemer doesn’t pull punches with laying out and discussing the biggest questions in philosophy. That being said, it isn’t the easiest book to go through for one’s first foray into philosophy, but it really is the best place to start. Thumbs up for KRV.
“Utilitarianism” by John Stuart Mill
For understanding what Utilitarianism is from the perspective of John Stuart Mill, this book is fine. I don’t have much interest in Benthamite Utilitarianism, but I thought it would be worth it to give JSM a chance to explain himself in his own words. If that is what you are looking for, then this small book is just for you.
“Written on the Heart” by J. Budziszewski
A fine intro and history of the Natural Law tradition. I don’t have a lot of thoughts on it other than if you are interested in Natural Law, this would be a good book to pick up.
“The Counter-Revolution of Science” by Friedrich Hayek
Hayek here provides both valuable perspectives on economics/sociology, as well as an important history of how socialism evolved into the form that we associated with it today. This is one of the least-read works by Hayek, but it is honestly one of his best. More people (especially in the Austrian world) should be reading this book.
“The Problem of Production” by Per Bylund
The Theory of the Firm is one of the more obscure, yet intriguing sub-categories of economic thought, and Bylund’s book does a fantastic job at advancing it from an Austrian angle. Genuinely baffled that more people don’t talk about this book, as it advances an Austrian understanding of the firm in a novel and important way. If any of that nerd stuff I just said sounded interesting, give this book a read.
“The Anarchist Handbook” by Michael Malice
I listened to this on audiobook because I wanted to hear the different voices for each of the authors in this compilation. Hearing Tim Pool as Pierre Joseph Proudhon was certainly a unique experience. A good collection of writings to introduce or expose one to different anarchist ideas and authors throughout its wide and vast tradition. Good on Mr. Malice for putting this together, as this is a book that was sorely needed.
“Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgement” by Peter Klein and Nicolai Foss
In my mind, this is the definitive book on entrepreneurship theory. Klein and Foss do a great job of breaking down the nature and role of the entrepreneur, showing you how different theories succeed in capturing that and why others fail. If you want to learn about Austrian perspectives on entrepreneurship, this is the book to read.
“Heaven and Hell” by Bart Erhman
This one was an audiobook as well. A fascinating read for anyone looking to learn more about the history of the afterlife and how it developed into the understandings that many people hold today. Erhman’s perspective on the Old and New Testaments (and other topics) is always enlightening, even when I don’t necessarily agree with his conclusions. He does a good job of breaking down how biblical scholarship views certain passages and ideas. Give it a whirl if the subject matter is interesting to you.
“The Present Age” by Soren Kierkegaard
I like Kierkegaard a lot, and I found this book to be difficult to pin down. On one hand, I find myself agreeing with the spirit of what he is saying, but on the other, I feel as if Kierkegaard might be guilty of nostalgia blindness. I wrote up an entire blog post on this book, so you can read more of my thoughts there if you would like. Overall, a thought-provoking book from a very thought-provoking man.
“The Machiavellians” by James Burnham
Michael Malice, someone who I admire, has previously written that if he could give only one book to someone, it would be “The Machiavellians”. After reading I can see why, as it provides a good introduction to the Elite School ideas. I do also believe that the book is probably a tad overrated by many in dissident political circles, where it is recommended and praised ad nasuem. Even so, the ideas that Burnham relays in this book do change the way that you see the world, and that change can’t quite ever be undone.
“Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Judgement” by Robert Murphy
If you put a very large gun to my head and forced me to pick one book to introduce someone to economics, it would be “Choice”. I’m of the opinion that there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all-brains book to get someone immersed in the economics world, but this is the book that best fits that criteria. It teaches you the basics of economic theory (through a condensation of Mises’ Human Action), while also making sure you understand the basics as well. An excellent book from Murphy.
“Socialism” by Ludwig von Mises
In my opinion, the second-best book written by Mises, bested only by his magnum opus, “Human Action”. What Mises provides here is an intellectual inoculation against all forms of socialism. Once you read this, you can’t ever take socialism as an economic system seriously ever again; Mises has already exposed you to all of its numerous flaws. It is a long book, and it drags at times (especially in the opening chapters), but the book itself is fantastic and well, well, well worth your time.
“East of Eden” by John Steinbeck
“East of Eden” is a novel that illustrates that complexities of intergenerational strife and trauma. It’s a long book, but because of the story that it is trying to tell, the length is completely justified. I haven’t ever read anything quite like it, and I probably won’t read anything quite like it ever again. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a thoughtful and well-written novel.
“Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck
Much shorter than the “East of Eden”, but still packs a heavy punch in its brevity. The themes and story in “Of Mice and Men” are just as applicable today as they were in the difficult economic times of the 1930s. This is one book that I am comfortable saying that everyone should read at some point.
“On the Road” by Jack Kerouac
I have to be honest, I didn’t like this book all that much. The book doesn’t really lead to much of anywhere, and while I get that that is supposed to be the point, it still just doesn’t make for much of an enjoyable read. Maybe I just didn’t get it, but I expected more from a book with such a dominant reputation in American literature.
“The Language of Morals” by R.M. Hare
While I don’t agree with all aspects of Moore’s ethical prescriptivism, I did find this book to be supremely interesting. I’m not familiar with any of Hare’s other works, but reading “The Language of Morals” has piqued my interest in diving into more of his thought. An overall well-written and interesting book from Hare.
“Principles of Economics” by Carl Menger
I feel slightly ashamed at not having read this earlier than this year, but I’m glad that I finally got around to it. Menger’s “Principles” has a much different feel than many of works in the Austrian tradition, and still has many insights for us today. A must-read for anyone interested in Austrian economics.
“Twilight of the Idols” by Friedrich Nietzsche
I’m not sure if this is my favorite book by Nietzsche, but it condenses and communicates his ideas better than any other of his works. This is definitely Nietzsche at his most focused. As a result, if I could only have one Nietzsche book on my shelf, it would probably be “Twilight of the Idols”. For an introduction to Nietzsche in his own words, or just a good read from one of the most influential philosophers, give this one a read.
“The Sickness Unto Death” by Soren Kierkegaard
There is a type of book that you run into every once in a while, where the author effectively lays out all of his main ideas in the first chapter or so, but the book keeps pedantically going on just restating those ideas over and over again. “The Sickness Unto Death” is one of those books. The ideas are interesting enough, but the book didn’t need to be nearly as long as it is. Just read the first few chapters and forget about the rest.
“Principia Ethica” by G.E. Moore
One of, if not the most, famous work on ethics from the 20th century. I don’t agree with the majority of Moore’s views, and I found “Principia Ethica” to be one of many philosophical books that are best consumed in a Cliff-Notes style, highly abridged version. You don’t need to read the whole book to get Moore’s main ideas, and I would personally recommend just finding a YouTube video on it instead. If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty, then actually read the book, of course.
“Nicomachean Ethics” by Aristotle
One of the classics of philosophy, and deservedly so. I’m not sure if a better book on ethics exists, honestly. It is one of the few philosophical books that you can gain both knowledge and practical wisdom from. If you haven’t read it, read it. If you have read it, use this as an excuse to read it again.
“Economical Writing” by Deirdre McClosky
The Venn Diagram of good writers and good economists bears a striking resemblance to an infinity sign, so this book is sorely needed in the economics field. If you have some experience writing, most of the book will be familiar lessons and ideas, but there is still something here for everyone of all skill levels. This is a must-read for all economists who want their writing to be read and remembered.
“Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace” by Gore Vidal
Probably the most forgettable book that I read this year. There was just very little substance in the book, and the book meanders all over the place, seemingly without any conscious direction. I picked this up on a recommendation, but that is a recommendation that I cannot repeat. I can’t speak to any of Vidal’s other work, but I would avoid “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace”.
“Fossil Future” by Alex Epstein
I wrote a full review of this book on my blog already, but I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in hearing an alternative perspective to the climate alarmism which inundates us today. Epstein provides a much-needed level-headed approach to the climate issue, and shows how so many people today not only draw the wrong conclusions, but start from the wrong premises. One of the best books I read this year, and it has my ringing endorsement (for whatever that’s worth).
“The Western Intellectual Tradition” by Jacob Bronowski and Bruce Mazlish
I picked this one up at a used book store for around $3, and I’m very glad that I did. Its not an earth-shattering book, but it does what it sets out to do very well. It provides an overview of the intellectual movements and tides from the Renaissance to the early 19th century. A very pleasant read, and I learned quite a bit as well. Pick this one up for a nice macro-level analysis of intellectual history.
“Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand” by Leonard Peikoff
I have had this on my bookshelf for several years now, but I just got around to reading it this year. While I don’t agree with many of Rand’s ideas, I do feel as if being exposed to them through Peikoff’s writing did help me to think about many philosophical issues in a different light. Being a Libertarian, I felt it was my duty to at least be familiar with Objectivist ideas, but I’m glad that finally puled off the shelf to read.
“Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal” by Ayn Rand
Inspired by reading Peikoff’s book, I decided reading some of Rand and the Randian’s own writing might be in order. There’re quite a few essays here that I really like, such as Alan Greenspan’s defense of gold, and a few that are absolutely dreadful, such as Rand’s defense of intellectual property rights. Overall though, a very good collection of essays that I think any Libertarian worth his salt should read.
“Legal Systems Very Different from Ours” by David Friedman, David Skarbeck, and Peter Leeson
A fascinating and very enlightening book. The purpose of the book is, as the title would indicate, to detail different types of legal systems different from the common law systems we have in the West today. This is a great read, and very revealing about just how varied and vast is the history of the law. Two thumbs up, and a round of applause for Friedman, Skarbeck, and Leeson.
“Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature” by Murray Rothbard
This is a collection of essays that I had read before, but had done so digitally on my phone while at university. I decided I should have a physical copy of this book as well, so that gave me the excuse to read through it again. Excellent writing from Rothbard on a variety of economic and social topics, and it has all the literary quality that you would expect from his work. Three cheers all around!
“The Essay on the Nature of Commerce in General” by Richard Cantillon
An old treatise on economics, but one that advanced the science in many ways that are wholly unappreciated in our modern day. If more people had read Cantillon as opposed to Adam Smith, economics would probably be in a better place today. The book and content are rather dated at this point, so I’m not sure I would recommend reading it outside of just pure curiosity in the history of economic thought.
“Anarchism” by Emma Goldman
Modern-day Anarchists tend to be goofy, unserious individuals without much intellectual grounding, but the classical Anarchists were the real deal. They weren’t distracted by tertiary social issues like racism or homophobia, but were concentrated on the true prize of liberty. Goldman clearly demonstrates that foundational impetus here in “Anarchism”. A must-read for any Libertarian or Anarchist.
“The White Pill” by Michael Malice
The long-anticipated book from Michael Malice is here, and it was worth the wait. This is in my top-five books of the year, and probably in the top-three as well. It is a historical recounting of the decades-long horrors of the Soviet Union, displaying its atrocities in full and unreserved detail. The book ends on the collapse of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, showing how despite the great evil that is present in the world, there is also great good as well. It is a story of unimaginable pain and suffering, but also of great optimism as well. This book has made me more optimistic for the future, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
“Rivalry and Central Planning” by Don Lavoie
The term “love-hate relationship” is an overused cliché, but it truly describes how I feel about Lavoie’s work on the Economic Calculation Debate. I like much of the research and scholarship that he lays out, but I fundamentally disagree with his characterization of Mises and Hayek’s arguments. For Austrian geek nerds like me, this is an important book in Austrian history and should be on your reading list, even if it is rather divisive.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
And that’s everything! 2022 was a good year for my bookshelf, and I’m sure that 2023 will follow suit. I hope that you enjoyed the books that you read throughout this past year, and that you will learn much from your literary journeys yet to come.