Yuval Noah Harari

Humans have ravaged the planet from Day One and continue to leave trails of destruction in their paths. That’s one takeaway among many from this masterful book. In the context of hundreds of thousands of years of history, the book is brief, only about 500 pages, so of course it can’t come close to capturing everything. There are some leaps you might scoff at, some brilliant insights, incredible connections, major breakthroughs, and critical turning points in human history. It weaves biology, anthropology, history, sociology, and storytelling—if you want to learn as much as you can about human history and humanity in one book, this is it. The wannabe anthropologist in me jumped all over this book; it really captured my attention and was a thoughtful break from my steady diet of rom-coms. So many quotes, here are a few:

 

  • “Our DNA still thinks we are in the savanna.”
  • “Sapiens can cooperate in extremely flexible ways with countless numbers of strangers. That’s why Sapiens rule the world, whereas ants eat our leftovers and chimps are locked up in zoos and research laboratories.”
  • “Biology enables, Culture forbids.”

“If planet earth were to blow up tomorrow morning, the universe would probably keep going about its business as usual. As far as we can tell at this point, human subjectivity would not be missed. Hence any meaning that people inscribe to their lives is just a delusion.”