Year list – The Inquisitive Biologist’s top 5 reads of 2022

3-minute read

2022 was a year in which I went down a few rabbit holes with really big books that took a lot of my time. As such, I read and reviewed 52 books this year. 

What follows is my personal top 5 of the most impactful, most beautiful, and most thought-provoking books I read during 2022.

1. Otherlands: A World in the Making

Otherlands thumbnailThis kills me. I prematurely awarded Steve Brusatte a place in my top 5 for his fantastic The Rise and Reign of the Mammals but Thomas Halliday’s debut with publisher Allen Lane, Otherlands, inched him out. The awards and praise heaped on this book are well deserved. This is a spellbinding tour of extinct worlds while its carefully crafted yet poetic reflections on evolution and deep time are a masterclass in science communication. Read more…

2. An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us

An Immense World thumbnailAs I was drafting this post, Ed Yong’s newsletter announced that this book has already been featured on 38 end-of-year lists. Well, make that 39. Taking some downtime from reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic for The Atlantic, Yong returned to publisher The Bodley Head and churned out An Immense World, a book on how animals perceive the world that had me so utterly captivated I did not want it to end. Read more…

3. The Ocean’s Whistleblower: The Remarkable Life and Work of Daniel Pauly

The Ocean's Whistleblower thumbnailOriginally published in French, Greystone Books did the world a favour by translating David Grémillet’s outstanding biography of marine biologist Daniel Pauly. The Ocean’s Whistleblower impresses with its balanced coverage, thorough research, and excellent science communication. Read more…

4. Mammalian Paleoecology: Using the Past to Study the Present

Mammalian Paleoecology thumbnailJohns Hopkins University Press surprised this year with the advanced-level text Mammalian Paleoecology. Not sure what palaeoecology is? Ecologist and evolutionary biologist Felisa A. Smith provides the reader with a neatly crafted package that gives you all the required background knowledge before delivering satisfying payoffs at the end. To find out why packrat middens are my new favourite discovery, read more…

5. The Guests of Ants: How Myrmecophiles Interact with Their Hosts

The Guests of Ants thumbnailAnts make it to my top 5 for the third year running. Harvard University Press has built a reputation for publishing stellar books on ants and The Guests of Ants joins that line-up. Veteran entomologist Bert Hölldobler and Christina L. Kwapich have written a beautifully illustrated, wide-ranging, and critical literature review of myrmecophiles: the many creatures that make their home in and around ant nests. Read more…


If you are looking for more recommendations, do check out my top 5s for 2021, 2020 and 2019. Or browse the archive listing all reviews.


  1. Thank you for the great reviews in 2022! I will add Otherlands to my list, might check Ed Yong’s new book since I liked his first. It’s hard for me to get hooked on the topic, I started reading Sentient and didn’t get too far, thanks to my unfortunate fixation on everything human. My top 5 this year were: Transformer by Nick Lane, Being You by Anil Seth, The Gene’s Eyeview of Evolution by J. Arvid Ågren, and more on the self-help side Burn by Herman Pontzer and Breath by James Nestor

    Liked by 1 person

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