Books I Read in 2022 (part 2)

Well this took a little longer than I expected. But hey, at least it’s still January! Here is Part 2 of the books I read in 2022. You can check out Part 1 if you missed it.

Now let’s wrap up this incredible year of reading! And leave a comment below of any books you read, or let me know if you read any of the same books I have.

All the Way Strong by Celeste Joan Hackman (eBook)

I can’t go back. I can’t change things. I can’t let them see my pain.

Rain, wind, heat, or snow, high school junior Olivia Bennett is used to running no matter the circumstance. Even when the pain in her knee causes her to slow down, she still competes against herself every cross-country meet. That’s what she trained herself to do.

Until one day, the pain is too unbearable to hide from her coach. Forced to stop running until she’s cleared by a doctor, one visit with her primary care physician quickly turns into multiple visits to the hospital. When a devastating diagnosis is reached, the idea of running again slips from her grasp.

While deciding whether to fight for her past or embrace an uncertain future, Olivia does her best to focus on normal life, hoping she won’t lose more of herself along the way.

Celeste Joan Hackman’s debut novel checks all the right boxes for me. I love a good YA (Young Adult) novel, and this is well written. Each character is well-developed, and you feel what they feel. And this story revolves around a high school cross-country runner, Olivia Bennett, who receives a rough medical diagnosis that may prevent her from pursuing her passion of running.

As a writer myself, I follow several writer YouTube accounts, and Celeste is among them. She released All the Way Strong this year. I was so impressed with the book that I just had to have her on my podcast, and it was so much fun!

She even had a great trailer for the book!

Celeste is building her own universe, starting with this book. It didn’t take long for her follow-up book, as you will see towards the end of this list.

The Brighter the Light by Mary Ellen Taylor (eBook)

When a shipwreck surfaces, old secrets are sure to follow.

Or so goes the lore in Ivy Neale’s hometown of Nags Head, North Carolina. When Ivy inherits her family’s beachfront cottage upon her grandmother’s death, she knows returning to Nags Head means facing the best friend and the boyfriend who betrayed her years ago.

But then a winter gale uncovers the shipwreck of local legend—and Ivy soon begins to stumble across more skeletons in the closet than just her own. Amid the cottage’s clutter are clues from her grandmother’s past at the enchanting seaside resort her family once owned. One fateful summer in 1950, the arrival of a dazzling singer shook the staff and guests alike—and not everyone made it to fall.

As Ivy contends with broken relationships and a burgeoning romance in the present, the past threatens to sweep her away. But as she uncovers the strength of her grandmother and the women who came before her, she realizes she is like the legendary shipwreck: the sands may shift around her, but she has found her home here by the sea.

Last year, I got sucked into collecting Amazon Kindle Achievement Badges. In order to collect one, I had to read a new mystery, so I chose this from the list. This was a fun little mystery. I do remember enjoying it at the time, but it is a little forgettable for me as I can’t recall too many details from it.

But, I do remember that the story frequently shifts from the 1950s and then back to the present. The storyline from each period was very good. This was a good “summer read” book.

The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over by Jack Schafer, Marvin Karlins (eBook)

The Like Switch is packed with all the tools you need for turning strangers into friends, whether you are on a sales call, a first date, or a job interview. As a Special Agent for the FBI’s National Security Division’s Behavioral Analysis Program, Dr. Jack Schafer developed dynamic and breakthrough strategies for profiling terrorists and detecting deception. Now, Dr. Schafer has evolved his proven-on-the-battlefield tactics for the day-to-day, but no less critical battle of getting people to like you.

In The Like Switch, he presents these techniques for how you can influence, attract, and win people over. Learn how to think and react like your favorite TV investigators from Criminal Minds or CSI as Dr. Schafer shows you how to improve your LQ (Likeability Quotient), “spot the lie” both in person and online, master nonverbal cues that influence how people perceive you, and turn up or turn down the intensity of a relationship.

Dr. Schafer cracks the code on making great first impressions, building lasting relationships, and understanding others’ behavior to learn what they really think about you. With tips and techniques that hold the key to taking control of your communications, interactions, and relationships, The Like Switch shows you how to read others and get people to like you for a moment or a lifetime.

Last year, I discovered Hala Taha’s awesome Young and Profiting podcast. It is a great personal growth podcast, and is inspiring me to grown my writing business. She mentioned this book, The Like Switch, and even had the author, Jack Schafer, on as her first guest.

So, I decided to check this book out. I had already read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. I already do practically everything mentioned in The Like Switch, so I did not really learn anything new from it.

However, I highly recommend this book – especially for anybody who has not read How to Win Friends and Influence People. The Like Switch is more up-to-date and relatable. Readers can learn a lot from this book.

Dune by Frank Herbert (physical)

Frank Herbert’s classic masterpiece—a triumph of the imagination and one of the bestselling science fiction novels of all time.

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for….

When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.

A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.

Although I enjoy Science Fiction and Fantasy, I had never read Dune or had seen the 1984 film (or the 2021 film for that matter). But I was curious about it, and came across a sale at Barnes & Noble. So I picked it up and eventually got to it.

I thought it was ok. I can see how it was groundbreaking. I watched the 2021 film after, and I actually liked it more than the book. There are a lot of sequels to the book, but I don’t have an interest in checking those out yet. I just feel like the pacing of the book was inconsistent and I struggled to get through a lot of it. If a movie sequel comes out, I’ll check that out.

Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times by Azar Nafisi (audiobook)

What is the role of literature in an era when one political party wages continual war on writers and the press? What is the connection between political strife in our daily lives, and the way we meet our enemies on the page in fiction? How can literature, through its free exchange, affect politics?

In this galvanizing guide to literature as resistance, Nafisi seeks to answer these questions. Drawing on her experiences as a woman and voracious reader living in the Islamic Republic of Iran, her life as an immigrant in the United States, and her role as literature professor in both countries, she crafts an argument for why, in a genuine democracy, we must engage with the enemy, and how literature can be a vehicle for doing so.

Structured as a series of letters to her father, who taught her as a child about how literature can rescue us in times of trauma, Nafisi explores the most probing questions of our time through the works of Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, James Baldwin, Margaret Atwood, and more.

This was a very timely book! I listened to this before the revolution began in Iran. The Iranian author, Azar Nafisi, tells stories of how literature helps battle against political issues. She selected some icons to cover, such as Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, James Baldwin, and Margaret Atwood.

The Heights by Louise Candlish (physical)

The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among warehouses in London. Its roof terrace is so discreet, you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there – a man you’d recognize anywhere. He may be older now, but it’s definitely him.

But that can’t be because he’s been dead for more than two years. You know this for a fact. 

Because you’re the one who killed him.

With Louise Candlish’s signature dark and twisty prose, The Heights shows “the ferocity of maternal love” (Hannah Beckerman, author of If Only I Could Tell You).

This was a nice little surprise! I got this book on sale at the same time I bought Dune. This was a great mystery/suspense. The twist was very cool. This was a step or two above a Lifetime movie. I could see this being made into a movie on Netflix or Amazon.

I recommend this book if you want a fun, suspenseful read. I also enjoy how the point of view changes. Sometimes it can be a bit distracting, but Candlish does a great job with it here.

The Big Dark Sky by Dean Koontz (eBook)

As a girl, Joanna Chase thrived on Rustling Willows Ranch in Montana until tragedy upended her life. Now thirty-four and living in Santa Fe with only misty memories of the past, she begins to receive pleas—by phone, through her TV, in her dreams: I am in a dark place, Jojo. Please come and help me. Heeding the disturbing appeals, Joanna is compelled to return to Montana, and to a strange childhood companion she had long forgotten.

She isn’t the only one drawn to the Montana farmstead. People from all walks of life have converged at the remote ranch. They are haunted, on the run, obsessed, and seeking answers to the same omniscient danger Joanna came to confront. All the while, on the outskirts of Rustling Willows, a madman lurks with a vision to save the future. Mass murder is the only way to see his frightening manifesto come to pass.

Through a bizarre twist of seemingly coincidental circumstances, a band of strangers now find themselves under Montana’s big dark sky. Their lives entwined, they face an encroaching horror. Unless they can defeat this threat, it will spell the end for humanity.

For some strange reason, I had never read a Dean Koontz book before. I enjoyed this sci-fi/horror book! This feels like a smaller version of Stephen King’s The Stand. Several different groups of people are on a collision course to do battle with an otherworldly creature.

I am a huge Stephen King fan, and Dean Koontz seems to have a similar writing style. So, I’ll definitely be checking out more of his work.

5 Things Every First-Time Author Needs to Know: How to Publish a Book and Build Your Platform by Geoff Affleck (eBook)

This straight-talking how-to guide for authors explains how to reach more readers, make more money, and avoid the costly mistakes that most new (and seasoned) authors make when they publish a book. It’s written specifically for new and aspiring non-fiction authors who want to leverage a book to build their platform, practice, and/or business and can be read in under an hour.

Professional publishing coach and #1 bestselling author Geoff Affleck offers five insights for first-time non-fiction authors.

I read this as I was preparing to graduate with my degree in Creative Writing. Luckily this was a very short book because I didn’t really learn anything that I hadn’t already learned from school or other authors who I follow on YouTube and other social media outlets.

My biggest takeaway is that traditional publishing is evil, and if you try to traditionally publish, you will be rejected, ripped off, and go crying back to your corporate job, and you will die in obscurity. Well the author may not have used those exact words, but that was my takeaway.

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney (physical)

With the publication of Bright Lights, Big City in 1984, Jay McInerney became a literary sensation, heralded as the voice of a generation. The novel follows a young man, living in Manhattan as if he owned it, through nightclubs, fashion shows, editorial offices, and loft parties as he attempts to outstrip mortality and the recurring approach of dawn. With nothing but goodwill, controlled substances, and wit to sustain him in this anti-quest, he runs until he reaches his reckoning point, where he is forced to acknowledge loss and, possibly, to rediscover his better instincts. This remarkable novel of youth and New York remains one of the most beloved, imitated, and iconic novels in America.

I had created a book club called The GenX Book Club, and this was the first selection. I probably created the book club a little prematurely as I was finishing up school, which was followed by the holiday season. But, this was a great book to kick things off anyway!

I don’t think I had ever read a book told in second person, other than the Choose Your Own Adventure books that were popular when I was growing up. This really captures the ’80s yuppie life well.

Jay McInerney really brought me back to ’80s New York City. His descriptions are concise and the characters are as angsty and cocaine fueled as you would expect them to be.

How to Write, Edit, and Publish Your Memoir: Advice from a Best-Selling Memoirist: With Tips from 6 More Memoirists by Carolyn Jourdan, Bob Tarte, Mark Garrison, et al (eBook)

Learn the ropes from a USA Today, Audible, and 5-time Wall Street Journal best-selling memoirist and get tips from 6 of her friends and colleagues.

Jourdan’s trademark blend of wit and wisdom, humor and humanity have earned her high praise from Dolly Parton and Fannie Flagg, as well as major national newspapers, the New York Public Library, Elle, Family Circle Magazine, and put her work at the top of hundreds of lists of best books of the year and funniest books ever.

This was my second, and final attempt at reading a “how-to” writing book. Again, this was a short book, and there wasn’t anything I learned from this that I didn’t already know.

If It Bleeds by Stephen King (eBook)

Readers adore Stephen King’s novels, and his novellas are their own dark treat, briefer but just as impactful and enduring as his longer fiction. Many of his novellas have been made into iconic films, including The Body (Stand by Me) and Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (Shawshank Redemption).

Four brilliant new tales in If It Bleeds are sure to prove as iconic as their predecessors. Once again, King’s remarkable range is on full display. In the title story, fan-favorite Holly Gibney (from the Mr. Mercedes trilogy and The Outsider) must face her fears and possibly another outsider – this time on her own. In Mr. Harrigan’s Phone an intergenerational friendship has a disturbing afterlife. The Life of Chuck explores, beautifully, how each of us contains multitudes. And in Rat, a struggling writer must contend with the darker side of ambition.

If these novellas show King’s range, they also prove that certain themes endure. One of King’s great concerns is evil, and in If It Bleeds, there’s plenty of it. There is also evil’s opposite, which in King’s fiction often manifests as friendship. Holly is reminded that friendship is not only life-affirming but can be life-saving. Young Craig befriends Mr. Harrigan, and the sweetness of this late-in-life connection is its own reward.

Stephen King is my favorite author, and I finally got to this short story collection. As usual, he put out some great stories. I loved all four stories from this book – “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone”, “The Life of Chuck”, “If It Bleeds”, and “Rat”.

A few days after I read “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone”, which was the first story, a movie of that story was released on Netflix. I had no idea that was happening. I still haven’t had time to check it out. I’m too busy reading! But, I’ve heard good things about it, so I’ll eventually get to it. And honestly, I could see each of these stories being made into a movie – especially the title story.

Saving Myself One Step at a Time: A Running Memoir by T.J. Bryan (eBook)

For decades, T. J. Bryan devoted herself to her profession, rising upward constantly. Suddenly, after reaching the pinnacle of her career, she was pushed from her lofty position. To save herself from despair, she, at age 64, impulsively decided to become a distance runner. Up to this point, her only athletic success revolved around aerobics classes when she was in her 40s and early 50s. When she became a runner, she competed in races of varying distances and developed a love of marathons although, as an African-American woman, she encountered few women of her age and even fewer women of her race competing at this distance. In ten years of running and racing, she discovered much about herself and joined a family that supported and encouraged her. Occasionally gritty and at times magical, her story is inspirational.

As I am working on my own memoir, I thought it would be a good idea to read some other runners’ memoirs. I found this one on my Kindle and decided to check it out, and I’m glad I did! T.J. Bryan has a good story here about being a later-in-life athlete. She described her process of being a distance runner very well. She even gives well detailed running stories.

Lost in Time by A.G. Riddle (eBook)

Control the past.

Save the future.

One morning, Dr. Sam Anderson wakes up to find that the woman he loves has been murdered.

For Sam, the horror is only beginning.

He and his daughter are accused of the crime. The evidence is ironclad. They will be convicted.

And so, to ensure his daughter goes free, Sam does what he must: he confesses.

But in the future, murderers aren’t sent to prison.

Thanks to a machine Sam helped invent, the world’s worst criminals are now sent to the past – approximately 200 million years into the past, to the dawn of the time of the dinosaurs – where they must live out their lives alone, in exile from the human race.

Sam accepts his fate.

But his daughter doesn’t.

Adeline Anderson has already lost her mother to a deadly, unfair disease. She can’t bear to lose her father as well.

So she sets out on a quest to prove him innocent. And to get him back. People around her insist that both are impossible tasks.

But Adeline doesn’t give up. She only works harder.

She soon learns that impossible tasks are her specialty. And that she is made of tougher stuff than she ever imagined.

As she peels back the layers of the mystery that tore her father from this world, Adeline finds more questions than answers. Everyone around her is hiding a secret. But which ones are connected to the murder that exiled her father?

That mystery stretches across the past, present, and future – and leads to a revelation that will change everything.

This was another pleasant surprise! This sci-fi/time travel/mystery by A.G. Riddle was just released in September 2023. The story starts as a murder mystery, and turns into a time travel thriller, then back to a suspenseful mystery. It was already a great story with interesting characters. But, then an incredible twist occurs, and the story gets even better from there!

Bravey by Alexi Pappas (audiobook)

run like a bravey
sleep like a baby
dream like a crazy
replace can’t with maybe

When “Renaissance runner” (New York Times) Alexi Pappas—Olympic athlete, actress, filmmaker, and writer—was four years old, her mother died by suicide, drastically altering the course of Pappas’s life and setting her on a search for female role models. When her father signed his bereaved daughter up for sports teams as a way to keep her busy, female athletes became the first women Pappas looked up to, and her Olympic dream was born. At the same time, Pappas had big creative dreams, too: She wanted to make movies, write, and act. Despite setbacks and hardships, Pappas refused to pick just one lane. She put in a tremendous amount of hard work and wouldn’t let anything stand in her way until she achieved all of her dreams, however unrelated they may seem to outsiders. In a single year, 2016, she made her Olympic debut as a distance runner and wrote, directed, and starred in her first feature film.

But great highs are often accompanied by deep lows; with joy comes sorrow. In Bravey, Pappas fearlessly and honestly shares her battle with post-Olympic depression and describes how she emerged on the other side as a thriving and self-actualized woman. Unflinching, exuberant, and always entertaining, Bravey showcases Pappas’s signature, charming voice as she reflects upon the touchstone moments in her life and the lessons that have powered her career as both an athlete and an artist—foremost among them, how to be brave.

Pappas’s experiences reveal how we can all overcome hardship, befriend pain, celebrate victory, relish the loyalty found in teammates, and claim joy. In short: how every one of us can become a bravey.

I read some great books throughout the year. But the Alexi Pappas memoir, Bravey, wins the award of THE RHODE RUNNER BOOK OF THE YEAR!!!

This book checked all the boxes in the best way. The Olympian, Alexi Pappas, is very open about every aspect of her life. She tells great running stories. She has a great sense of humor. She is also extremely inspirational and motivational. There are many incredible quotes from this book. I listened to the audiobook, but I am going to have to get a physical copy so I can highlight the many gems.

Alexi is also a great storyteller. When she was a child, she lost her mother to mental illness. It is heartbreaking hearing about the few memories she has of her mother, and her struggles of growing up without a mother figure.

Honestly, this is the best book I’ve read in a long time…and I’ve read some great ones. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. And not just for runners and other athletes, but for everybody.

Never Too Late: Inspiration, Motivation, and Sage Advice from 7 Later-in-Life Athletes by Kate Champion (eBook)

Is there a secret recipe for staying fit, active, and vibrant into your 50s, 60s, and beyond? Think it’s too late? Never Too Late shines the spotlight on 7 amazing later-in-life athletes as they candidly share their thoughts, feelings, and knowledge about:

Motivation – How to get – and stay off – the couch?

Food, supplements, and tricks for recovering from illness and injuries

Inspiration, personal insights, and other helpful tips

Hear from: Sister Madonna Buder – 87– a triathlete who continues to break world records

‘Butch’ – a 62-year-old ‘couch potato’ turned ultra-runner

Yvonne – a solo female endurance hiker who started hiking in her 50s

Dan – 85 – a marathon running legend

Pat – 67 – an endurance swimmer and the oldest female to swim the English Channel

Plus more…By the end of Never Too Late, you’ll learn how to improve your motivation, feel inspired, reduce unhelpful beliefs, and connect with resources, races, and events – all the tools you need to thrive – at any age!

It’s tough to follow Bravey. But, if any book can do it, then it’s Never Too Late by Kate Champion! Kate interviewed seven later-in-life athletes, and did a fantastic job! This is yet another inspirational book. It drives me crazy when I hear people say that they’re “too old” to do something. Well there are at least seven people here to prove them wrong!

This book is so powerful, that one of the stories made an impact on the Journey of the Rhode Runner. I will be making a big announcement about this shortly on the podcast and in the newsletter. But, if you want to get a hint, check out Butch’s story. And no, I don’t plan on running any ultra marathons…yet.

Before We Went Our Separate Ways by Celeste Joan Hackman (physical)

Just when I think life can’t possibly get worse…it does.

Amelia Miller’s picture perfect life changes when devastating news hits the family. While the family keeps the news under the radar, everyone tries their best to keep a brave face, hoping for the slightest amount of good news.

Looking for an easy escape, Amelia works as many hours as legally allowed and bonds with her favorite co-worker. When a routine lunch break turns into a medical emergency, her safe haven becomes another place of fear and worry.

Desperate for any sense of normality, Amelia turns to her best friends, but as the three of them realize they’re growing up and growing apart, time with them is no longer as relaxing as it once was.

While entering high school isn’t exactly what Amelia dreamed it would be, she must figure out how to keep going, even when there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

We started Part 2 with my friend, Celeste Joan. And we will end the year with her. This is yet another great, emotional story. It’s also cool how it takes place in the same universe as Celeste’s first book, All the Way Strong, and is centered around side characters from that first story.

Once again, each character is well-developed and relatable. Celeste Joan Hackman is a natural storyteller, and has an incredible storyteller.

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