Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

“We study history not to know the future but to widen our horizons, to understand that our present situation is neither natural nor inevitable, and that we consequently have many more possibilities before us than we imagine.”
-Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens

Harari perfectly summed up the meaning of this book, and the lens it provided me, in this quote.

Many of the history I have learned in my life is nowhere near as eclectic as this book. There have been plenty of anecdotes (and I even breezed through the “Origins” exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History) of prehistoric findings, but Sapiens is a whole new level.

Halfway through the book I realized the importance of ‘remember where you came from.’ I am astonished at the amount of information that the author (and probably with some help) collected and organized to get to this book. It was a face melting experience as the pieces of our current culture, and world, came into view through the millennia.

That is what is crazy. How many millennia this book covers.

Harari writes and produces theories and viewpoints in a very convincing way. I never caught a hint of glaring bias in the topics.

What is almost as thought provoking as the whole book is the ending. Harari writes about happiness, the future, and Homo Sapiens. It is a fantastic book. It was an easy read, and maybe I just had a heightened interest, or—most likely—it is written and organized in a harmonious way.

The notes are unedited. Typos, strange wording, and questions are abound.

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Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) by Carol Tavris & Elliot Aronson


This book proved very relevant to the times. When discussing politics and torture it was easy to think, “This is so us right now.” Like reading Strangers to Ourselves, it produces a weird feeling. Discovering a side of you that you have little direct control over is eerie.

The topic of the brain constructing narratives to align with the way we want to think of ourselves and the world has appeared in multiple books now that I’ve read. It is an incredibly interesting process.

This book is a whole different window to peer out at the world through. To see all the mistakes in criminal justice, science, medical, and political actions that can be accounted for by dissonance theory is frightening. It made me wonder how much I can trust my own thoughts, narratives, and actions. In a way, it rocked my reality. However, I am very glad that I read it as soon as I did.

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Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha


Read it. Just.. read it. My top recommendation.

This book calls into question many assumptions about human behavior. This is a list of topics discussed in this book;

  • sex (freaking duh)
  • infidelity
  • the female libido
  • female copulatory vocalizations
  • relationships
  • jealously
  • suicide
  • war
  • anger
  • genital design
  • other cultures practices of sex
  • the fallacy of universal human monogamy
  • testosterone levels
  • masturbation
  • pornography
  • the shift from foraging to agriculture
  • disease
  • BONOBOS (I had never heard of bonobos, like many other people I thought, “Yup, chimpanzees, that’s the closest thing to us.”)
  • sperm competition vs. alpha male
  • gender inequality
  • famine

Like, it was one of the most jaw-dropping things I’ve ever read. I wanted to walk around and ask people, “Do you know about this?”. Talking about this book makes me want to throw up, not because I’m disgusted, but because it just too much incredible insight to handle.

It reminds me of criminal investigation, where you thought all the facts were upfront. Everything was straightforward. It had been explained. It was time to move on. Then the defense calls a witness who was overlooked. Suddenly, everything you thought you know about the case starts to come crashing down and a new narrative emerges exonerating the defendant (who you thought was undeniable guilty earlier). It is sensational.

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The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt


This book was huge to me. The author discusses many ideas of happiness throughout centuries and gives perspectives on Buddhism, divinity, love, personality, and how our minds react to changes in our lives, whether they are good or bad.

I could see at the end of the book that the author was once where I was at. Just a young man, questioning life, purpose, meaning, and happiness.

Psychology and anthropology, once again, play a big role in one of the books I have listed. This book is gold for anyone that wants to look deeper into being human.

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Tribe by Sebastian Junger


Tribe by Sebastian Junger is so difficult to put into words. I almost read it in one sitting. Junger states the book is not an academic examination of the topic. He takes many pieces of information, stories and presents theories and explanations for certain phenomenon in todays society.

Reading this book at the age of twenty-three seemed important as topics discussed (a sense of belonging, group cohesion, courage, societal interactions) are becoming increasingly interesting to me.

I read reviews of this book online and some people really went after the information and theories that are discussed (as they should). A lot of it was negative and defensive towards PTSD. He was not taking a shot people’s suffering, but he is offering a different explanation for the confusing statistics that arise when examining PTSD. He calls into question the way society (U.S) treats its veterans and offers ways to improve it.

This book was so compelling I could feel my heart beating faster as I got deeper into it.

It is almost ineffable. Please read.

“Today’s veterans often come home to find that, although they’re willing to die for their country, they’re not sure how to live for it.”


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Strangers to Ourselves by Timothy D. Wilson


This was the first book I read on the subconscious mind. I love these types of books because they take assumptions that we personally have about ourselves (actions, tendencies, realities) and call to question our perception of them.

What I find incredible interesting about these books is the thing I trust the most is my brain, consciousness, and reason. Then I read it, and realize that there have been so many times in my life when I have seen, reacted, understood, and explained things wrong. Why? Because the thing I trusted the most (myself) is working processes that I had no concept of.

Understanding ourselves is very important if we hope to understand others, this book helps with that.

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The Heart of the Revolution by Noah Levine


If you are looking to love yourself more, or if you are looking to love everyone and everything else more, give this book a quick goose. I do not have very many notes on it, but it is powerful.

What was in this book, came to me at a time that I needed it. That being said, I think anytime is a good time to read this book. This book was about looking at the world with eyes that desperately want to understand other people. To do that, you need to understand you. Especially if ‘you’, is deeply defined by your past. Coming out of a rough time (addiction, loneliness, depression, prison) is another great reason to read this book.

Lots of Buddhism in this one, which is a great thing. Anyone who is experiencing suffering or pain (everyone) should consider opening this book.

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