Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Over the years, one thing that consistently bothered me was my inability to read and finish books. I started a lot of books, but finished rarely any. Over time, I lost interest in reading books. I read a lot of articles, blogs and news stories, some tens of thousands of words long, but I never got around to reading books.

In late November, I decided that I wanted to change this about myself and that I wanted to read more. For that, I needed a book that would keep me hooked, keep me interested. Over the last year, I had read and heard a lot of praise for Sapiens, and I was certain that that was the book I wanted to read. And so, it was.

I just finished reading the book last night, and to say it was an eye-opener, is an under-statement. It is an astute account of the rise of homo sapiens, the various revolutions that have occurred over the last several millenia, and goes on to lucidly describe the dominant (and other theories) surrouding each one of them.

One of its primary gifts to me was a new perspective. I had accepted humanity as it exists today (capitalism, social structure, religions, agricultural practices, etc.) without sufficiently understanding how they came to be. I now understand a little more about the story of the homo sapiens than I ever did.

Harari helped me learn more by questioning the why, which I hadn’t earlier, out of my arrogance, ignorance or both.

One of the most profound quotes of the book appears in the ‘Afterword’ and summarises everything the book goes over ever so succintly:

Seventy thousand years ago, homo sapiens was still an insignificant animal minding its own business in a corner of Africa. In the following millenia it transformed itself into the master of the entire planet and the terror of the ecosystem. Today it stands on the verge of becoming a god, poised to acquire not only eternal youth, but also the divine abilities of creation and destruction.

Here’s to the next book, and then a few more .