Who are we? What are we? Why are we here? Where will we wind up? These are just a few of the questions asked – and answered – in Yuval Harari’s Sapiens, a thought-provoking and opinionated international bestseller about nothing less than the humanity, start to finish.
I’ve long been intrigued with human origins, fascinated by the staggeringly brief history of our remarkable and problematic species. Our diminutive presence across both the vast reaches of outer space, and aeons of earth’s history, provides a salutary humbling perspective to our often ego- and anthropocentric lives. Then there are all of our curious hominid siblings, outlasted by only us – unless you believe in Bigfoot. With this keen interest in the rapidly evolving field of paleoanthropology, I was thrilled to suddenly find so many of our patrons enjoying Harari’s book, and wanting to learn more.
Harari is far from the final word, with myriad authors from different scientific disciplines offering their own conclusions about the biological and anthropological basis of human nature. We’ve put together a list of further reading in our library’s catalog; here are just a few of the titles you’ll find there:
The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us, by Diane Ackerman. With her characteristic elegance, style and wide-ranging curiosity, Ackerman leads the reader on a stimulating tour of the Anthropocene, the period during which our runaway successes have brought our own world to the brink, and presenting us with the ultimate challenge: can we save ourselves – from ourselves?
The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure & Human Evolution, by Denis Dutton. Humans are remarkably creative, but what evolutionary purpose could painting pictures, composing music or writing novels possibly serve? Dutton offers a compelling thesis that seeks to explain all this useless beauty, and restore the artistic birthright that is a hallmark of our species.
Humanimal: How Homo Sapiens Became Nature’s Most Paradoxical Creature: A New Evolutionary History, by Adam Rutherford. Hamlet calls humans the beauty of the world, and the paragon of animals, a quintessence of dust. Science journalist Rutherford assembles an enlightening compendium of that which unequivocally fixes us as animals, and simultaneously reveals how we are extraordinary.
Check our these other titles about that intriguing and exotic animal, us!
~ Posted by David W.