Chris Evans highly recommended this book. When Captain America says so, you listen.
It’s been almost three years since I joined Goodreads and this is literally the second non-fiction book I finished reading. The last time I read a non-fiction book was in December 2016, it was an autobiography titled In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park. Anyone who knows my reading taste should know that I don’t read non-fiction, not only I found the majority of them to be boring, the main reason behind why I read is escapism and the best genre to offer me the best escapism experience lies in SFF. I don’t even know how to rate and review this book because it always made me feels awkward to give a rating to a non-fiction work, especially if it’s an autobiography, which luckily this book is not. Please remember that my rating—as always—speaks mostly for my reading enjoyment, not the technicality of the book.
“Nothing captures the biological argument better than the famous New Age slogan: ‘Happiness begins within.’ Money, social status, plastic surgery, beautiful houses, powerful positions – none of these will bring you happiness. Lasting happiness comes only from serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.”
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari is exactly what the title claimed to be. Harari did a spectacular job in compressing important moments—which are HUGE—of our history into this book. I’ve heard so many incredible things about it but never gotten around to it because I thought I would be bored with it, this book, however, proves to be incredibly enlightening and engaging than I thought it would be. There are way too many topics of discussion to unpack in a single review for me, Harari elaborated on how humanity became the most powerful race, the insane power in collective belief, money, war, advancements of technology, religions, and many more important topics.
“Money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.”
A huge part of why I found this book to be not as factual as I expected. Don’t get me wrong, Harari provided tons of facts and well-researched notes, but the author’s belief and opinion definitely bleeds into the text. This isn’t particularly a problem for me; I found it highly intriguing to read his perspective on humanity and our history. In general, I like to understand why people act or think the way they do about something and Harari explained his reasonings. Obviously, there were some of his opinions that I agree with, some that I don’t. However, I never found the book to be preachy, his combination of knowledge, facts, and opinion made me think about our society these days. Plus, I doubt that this book would’ve been compelling for me to read if it were all pure facts and data.
“How many young college graduates have taken demanding jobs in high-powered firms, vowing that they will work hard to earn money that will enable them to retire and pursue their real interests when they are thirty-five? But by the time they reach that age, they have large mortgages, children to school, houses in the suburbs that necessitate at least two cars per family, and a sense that life is not worth living without really good wine and expensive holidays abroad. What are they supposed to do, go back to digging up roots? No, they double their efforts and keep slaving away.”
I’m sure there are thousands of reviewers more knowledgeable than me that can tell you why this book is incredible. I’ll close this review by saying that if you feel intimidated by this book, I can assure you that Harari’s prose was utterly easy to digest. Sure there were a few topics—like capitalism—that bored me but most of the time I had a fantastic and enlightening time reading this book. Heck, I personally think this book should be available as a must-read book for everyone at school when they’re learning about history. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind made education and information a joy to read. The last pages of the book showed glimpses of Harari’s thoughts about the future of humanity, which I assume is what his book, Homo Deus, will be about and I look forward to reading it, hopefully within this year.
“Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?”
You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)