Remember that book I talked about yesterday that made me sad? Here’s that story.
I received an unexpected book in the mail last month. When I opened my mailbox, there it was. I wondered…did I order a book and forget? Hmm… I checked my Amazon orders just in case but found nothing. And then I remembered! I have a friend that loves to send random books from time to time, ones he thinks I haven’t heard of, but I might enjoy. Yeah, I’m lucky enough to have a friend like that!
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.
This book is heavy, and I don’t mean deep and wonderous. It’s literally heavy and it’s not even that thick of a book, only around 400 pages. It’s printed on thick semi-gloss paper, which makes it heavy AND hard to see under my book light because of glare. I wonder at publisher’s choice.
About a week after the book came to me, I happened to see a podcast interview with the author on People I (Mostly) Admire, a podcast I regularly listen to, so I added it to my playlist. The interview was wonderful, and it made me look forward to reading the book even more.
My notes from that podcast are pretty sketchy. I was taking notes as I drove home from a few days in Arizona. I didn’t even do a Podcast Roundup about that drive. It had been a long, emotional week for me and I just didn’t have the energy to do much of anything. I did get the vague idea that he was no Pollyanna, he could see clearly the human race does have some big problems, but still felt hopeful because he said some things I’ve been thinking myself.
This world is all about suffering and there isn’t some big overarching meaning or direction to existence. That shouldn’t depress you because to your family and friends you are everything, and that’s where you have the most influence in this world. And that’s where you should be focusing your energy.
The best way to live is to be amazed by the most ordinary things.
Take time off. You don’t need to be ON all the time, even though through technology we CAN.
There was so much more on this podcast, and he said it so well. I highly recommend listening to it. He talked about why he wrote this book and how it came into existence. It was a wonderful conversation, and that’s why the book was such a disappointment. After only page 75, I’m putting it down and marking it DNF.
Why? Several reasons but the biggest is that it has this underlying hatred of humanity and it colors everything in the text with negativity. It’s depressing. Yes, humans have an amazing capacity for destruction (so do most animals from the prey’s perspective), but you know what else we have: the capacity to notice, change, and create. I’m fairly certain that if you follow any other animal through time, you’d find that they overpowered other species, changed the environment, and made space for themselves, until another species did it to them or learned to live alongside them. Humans were not dropped here on earth from another planet. We are not an invasive species. We are part of the ecosystem like any other animal. We will evolve or die out, as any other animal has.
The sad part is that I want the information. I’m curious about the science of this world: how long the planet has been making creatures, how some groups may have evolved and spread, how the weather and geology was created and changed. There’s so much to learn that it overwhelms me. Sometimes I think maybe I should take a class or at least start watching some lectures about these things, but there’s just so much I don’t understand. And so many different perspectives and theories, all of which believe they are the RIGHT one. You know, in a past life I considered a geology major. Crazy right?
But the style of writing in Sapiens just made me sad, far too sad, and it read like a textbook. I knew I’d be in this book for weeks, and I just couldn’t take it. I’ll keep it on my shelf for reference. It’s an easy book to look up a topic and get an overview from. But I just can’t read it cover to cover. I’m moving on.
A friend of mine highly recommended it. So much so I bought the trilogy. I don’t even know if I read 75 pages… Put it aside for another day… Don’t understand all the hoopla around it, either.