Sitting at home due to coronavirus situation gives an opportunity to spend some valuable time on reading. If you are looking for something interesting here is my list of the top 3 books I read in 2019.
1. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
I heard about Yuval Noah Harari thanks to Bill Gates and the annual list of his 5 favourite books (You can find the full list here https://www.gatesnotes.com/about-bill-gates/holiday-books-2018). Bill put on the list another Harari’s book “21 lessons for 21st Century”, but unfortunately I am a bit OCD and cannot read things not in order. I had to start with the first Harari’s book of the series, which is “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”.
Yuval Noah Harari is an Israeli historian and a professor in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He published multiple publications, but his 3 bestselling books about humankind made him famous.
- Sapiens. A Brief History of Humankind
- Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
- 21 lessons for 21st Century
First one tells about our past. The second tells about our future. And the third one about the challenges we face right now as humankind. Now I know you don’t need to read them in order, but I said… if there is an order I need to go with it.
So, Sapiens. The book tells a story about our past. From the very beginning, when we came down from a tree until contemporary times, explaining how did we manage to conquer the world. And unfortunately, what price the world had to pay. Harari mixed history, biology, anthropology and sociology building a complex and full image of us. The author describes how ancient cultures were forming, how different parts of the world were conquered and how new technologies were developed and what impact they had. He discussed religions, beliefs, money, social status, political and economical systems in a cold, fact-based manner, which shows how limited and illogical they all really are. If you are religious (no matter the religion), an active supporter of any political movement or in general you believe in any big idea, you may get a bit offended.
All in all, I was very surprised and a bit disappointed to read how our history looks like. Still, one of the best books I read in 2019.
2. Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up by Tom Phillips
You may think that this book is similar to the first one, but you are wrong. While Harari gives a serious, almost scientific history book presenting facts with no personal opinions or judgements, Tom Phillips gives you a lightweight, funny set of stories that make you think.
In short words, the book is about our stupidity – as humankind, but also on a very low, individual level. The author discusses different areas of our history and tells multiple stories related to the area, showing what terrible mistakes we made. Really terrible mistake, that could be avoided if anyone would take a moment to think about the possible consequences. On the other hand, every story makes you think how was that possible? Why no one gave a damn to think for a moment? Are we humans really so conceited? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. History shows that we are. Driven by enormous egos and a false feeling of superiority we made terrible mistakes, which lead to consequence we often have to live with till this day. Worse, it seems we haven’t learnt much…
All in all, Humans is a great hilarious book, with a very sad question underneath. I think it’s a must-read for everyone and it should be read on a regular basis to keep our egos under control.
3. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
In general, I hate all the American guidebooks. Usually, they are absolutely full of bullshit. They treat the reader like an idiot, but here I think it’s simply their primary target. I started reading a couple of such bestselling leadership books and rarely managed to keep reading after the first couple of pages. So, I had mixed feeling when I got The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck on my Kindle. In the end, it was a positive surprise.
What stroke me here is that this book is very down-to-earth. It’s nothing like money is everywhere, happiness is easy, you can do whatever you want. This book is exactly the opposite. It says that life sucks sometimes, you will never achieve everything and the more you want the less happy you are. As the author says “the desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience”.
Mark Mason states that we live in a world that expects from you to be the best, happiest and richest person, putting people under a pressure. Also, the author discussed entitlement. We are being told that we are unique and special (even our parents tell us so when we are children), and we deserve everything. Sounds familiar dear IT? Obviously, it all false. When we face real life, it turns we are all average. Even if we have some stronger sides, in total we are still average. The sooner we accept that fact, the better.
“You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get fucked.”