What I Read in 2022: 3 Books You Might Also Enjoy

Three of my favorite books from 2022, plus I'm giving one of them away!

Update, 1/25/23: Congrats to Thomas from Spain on winning the book giveaway!

I GOT AMBITOUS in September of 2021 and decided to pick up Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.

I remember my first exposure to the book. I was in high school and a I spied a guy a grade ahead of me buried in the novel. Although I didn't know him well, he had a reputation as a superior intellect.

I love reading, as you know, and I've always admired a good intellect, so seeing Atlas Shrugged in this high school senior's hands was reason enough to add the work to my mental to-be-read list. That was in 2001.

Twenty years later I had occasion to pick up Rand's magnum opus. I am in graduate school at the moment, and a scholarship opportunity arose involving the reading of and writing an essay about the book. Those interested received a complimentary copy of the book in a digital format.

Although I knew the book was long, the electronic format masked its true girth. The English Standard Version of the Bible contains 757,439 words.[1] Atlas Shrugged, in comparison, contains an estimated 645,000 words.[2]  Within a couple of weeks my coursework overtook most available free time for reading. But as the scholarship deadline came and passed me by, I found myself enthralled in Rand's book. So from September to May I read until I worked my way through the novel.

Alas, I cannot recommend Atlas Shrugged in my annual roundup of books I read. I had high hopes for the book, and the work was compelling much of the time. In the end, though, only strict adherents or new converts to Rand's objectivism philosophy will probably consider a book of such length worth the read. Although I resonate with much of Ayn's worldview, she makes zero allowance for either God or for charity of any kind. Additionally, portions of the bookthe Galt speech, for exampleare so long as to become repetitive.

I only bring up Atlas Shrugged as context for my year of reading; I spent almost half of the year finishing up the book. With that background established, here are three books I think you might enjoy.

Convicted: A Crooked Cop, an Innocent Man, and an Unlikely Journey of Forgiveness and Friendship

I promised myself that if I ever saw this cop again, I was going to kill him. I intended to keep that promise.[3] 

Several years ago, Jameel McGee and Andrew Collins—co-authors of Convicted (in addition to Mark Tabb)—came and spoke at our church.

The pair told an abbreviated version of their compelling story to the congregation that day.

As the subtitle teases, Andrew was a crooked narcotics officer on the Benton Harbor beat in southwestern Michigan. Jameel "Zookie" was a man in the wrong place at the wrong time. Collins, hungry to make a name for himself on the force, turned to unethical means to secure convictions. So when Andrew received a tip about about an impending drug deal at a convenience store, he was ready.

 A man named Will drove Jameel to the store that day. Jameel didn't have a license so he hitched a ride with a friend of his cousin in order to buy groceries. What he didn't know was that Will had arranged a drug deal at that very same convenience store.

Without probable cause or a warrant, Collins searched the vehicle and found an ounce of crack. Because Will had borrowed Jameel's phone to arrange the deal, Collins assumed Jameel was the dealer. Will lied and told the police the same story to save himself from prison.

While Jameel stewed in jail, Andrew's tactics grew increasingly unethical. He began holding on to drugs he confiscated so he could plant them on suspects to facilitate arrests and convictions. He falsified police reports. He pocketed cash with fake reports of controlled buys and false informants.

As the months carried on, Collins became sloppy and his illegal activity caught up to him, culminating in his arrest upon the discovery of a large amount of drugs he had stashed in his office. With a guilty plea, many of the convictions Collins had helped to secure—including that of Jameel McGee—were overturned.

If the story were to end right there, the book would still be an intriguing read. But the unlikely events that transpired afterward lack explanation but for the power of the Holy Spirt.

The two encountered each other by chance at a park in Benton Harbor following Andrew's release from jail. Despite Jameel's vow to kill Andrew, he attributes his ability to eschew his thirst for revenge to God. "I thought  I'd left [God] back in prison," Jameel writes, "but he was right here, waiting for me at the very moment I needed him most. If he hadn't been, if I'd done what I wanted to do, then, man, my life might have been over."[4]

Even more implausible, Jameel and Andrew would eventually become friends, working together in ministry as a beacon of the redemptive power of Jesus Christ.

Convicted is by far my favorite read of the year. Revisiting some of the passages to write up this summary made me want to read the book all over again. And even though Convicted is a few years old, the book offers some hope for the seemingly ever-present racial tensions we see across the United States, especially those between police departments and minority communities.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The servant had in some cases become more adroit than its master... Empathy, evidently, existed only within the human community, whereas intelligence to some degree could be found throughout every phylum and order including the arachnida.[5]

The source material for the 1982 film Blade Runner, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is perhaps sci-fi dystopian author, Philip K. Dick's, most famous novel.

In my baccalaureate days, I read another of Dick's novels, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, a book which captivated me to the extent that I finished reading it long after my science fiction course at the University of Oklahoma concluded. In addition, I enjoy many movies based on Dick's tales like Minority Report and Blade Runner itself.

As such, I was ecstatic to dive in to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? on the return flight from my church's mission trip to Jamaica.

In true Philip K. Dick form, the novel deals with existential issues of reality and identity as bounty hunter Rick Deckard searches for six escaped androids so he can "retire" them. Humans created androids to be assistants on Mars where the majority of earthlings emigrated after World War Terminus left earth nearly uninhabitable. Nevertheless, androids are not allowed to be free of their masters, but technology has advanced to the point in which the machines look and behave just like humans. Deckard must use an examination known as the Voigt-Kampff Empathy Test to tell them apart.

Deckard's six targets come from a new model line called Nexus-6. One of the fugitive androids has already injured a fellow bounty hunter, leading Deckard to wonder whether he will be able to survive his assignment. And, after becoming smitten with a female Nexus-6 named Rachael, he also begins to wonder whether he should kill them at all.

The novel's title stems from Deckard's greatest desire: to own a real animal. Most species have become extinct in the wake of the war, and therefore people own "electric" replicas. Only the wealthy can afford real animals like sheep, owls, or horses.

Whether you've seen Blade Runner or not, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is a great read for anyone who's a fan of science fiction novels. Just be prepared for the author to mess with your head; it's his signature move.

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.[6][7]

Had Atomic Habits been the first book I'd ever read on the subject, I probably would have considered it revolutionary.

Nevertheless, having read Duhigg's The Power of Habitone of my all-time favorite bookssome years ago, I found Atomic Habits less profitable than I would have otherwise.

That's not to say Clear's book is not worthwhile; I wouldn't have included it on this list if I didn't think it is deserving of attention. Even having a pretty decent foundation in habit theory, I found Atomic Habits to be both entertaining and useful.

The premise of the book is simple: tiny changes lead to big differences. By focusing on incremental, continuous, improvement rather than on grandiose changes, we can achieve things we never thought possible before.

After establishing the premise, Clear presents four "laws" of behavior change:

1. Make It Obvious
2. Make It Attractive
3. Make It Easy
4. Make It Satisfying

The book abounds with too many nuggets of wisdom and interesting stories to mention here, so 'll highlight just one. Regarding Law 3, Make It Easy, atomic habits are about dicing up large goals into realistic, almost effortless tasks. Once routinized, you can iterate and slowly increment the difficulty to achieve the results you desire.

One can also apply the converse of each of the four laws to bad habits. Want to break an undesirable habit? Make it difficult. Make it less obvious (e.g. get junk food out of the house or keep it out of sight). Make it unattractive. Make it unsatisfying to engage in the activity. Easier said than done, to be sure, but Clear offers practical tips to short-circuit the bad behavior in our lives.

Even for those well-versed in habit theory, Atomic Habits is an easy read and a great addition to the popular literature at hand.

A Giveaway!

How would you like to win one these books?

I'm giving away one of the above books of your choice plus a copy of my newest book, Your Utmost Is Not Enough: Trusting in God Even When Life Doesn't Make Sense, to one lucky winner!

How can you enter?

It's actually quite simple: subscribe to my email list. That's it.

I typically send out two emails a month, including one on the last Tuesday with exclusive subscriber-only content. But there's no obligation to stay subscribed once the giveaway ends. To sign up, enter your email address below and click the button:


Already on the list? You're already entered!

I'll leave the giveaway open for seven days (through the end of 1/24/23 CST) and choose a random winner on 1/25/23. (Note: this contest is open to residents of all territories, but since I'm based in the US, if cost is too prohibitive in foreign countries, I might substitute the prize for a gift card.)

I'll update this post with the first name and location of the winner as well as notify him or her by email.

Good luck!

1. Allison Dexter, “How Many Words are in the Bible?” CNN.com, February 3, 2006, https://wordcounter.io/blog/how-many-words-are-in-the-bible.
2. I could not find a definitive word count for Atlas Shrugged.
3. Jameel Zookie McGee and Andrew Collins with Mark Tabb, Convicted: A Crooked Cop, an Innocent Man, and an Unlikely Journey of Forgiveness and Friendship (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook, 2017), Kindle edition, 11.
4. Ibid, 160.
5. Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (New York: Del Rey, 1968), Kindle edition, 28.
6. James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones (New York: Avery, 2018), 28.
7. Much thanks to my co-worker, Emily, who loaned me her copy of Atomic Habits. Sorry I held on to the book for so long!
8. Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader (New York: Crown Business, 2015), Kindle edition, 4.
9. This post contains affiliate links which means I receive a portion of sales at no extra cost to you.

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