Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

“Sapiens rule the world because only they can weave an intersubjective web of meaning: a web of laws, forces, entities and places that exist purely in their common imagination. This web allows humans alone to organise crusades, socialist revolutions and human rights movements.”
― Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow  is a book written by Israeli author Professor Yuval Noah Harari. It was originally published in 2015 and the English version was published in 2016 in the UK and in 2017 in the U.S.  This is sequel to Harari’s previous book: Sapiens: A Brief History of HumankindHomo Deus, as opposed to the previous book, deals more with the abilities acquired by mankind  and how we became the dominant being in the world. 

I first read Homo Deus in September 2016 when I received advanced reader copy of the book from Harvill Secker. (Thank you!)  I fell in love with Homo Deus from very first pages. And that doesn’t happen to me that often that I’m ready to rate a book 5 stars without even finishing it. It immediately posed some very good questions:  How should we live? How should we keep on living? …We will now aim to upgrade humans into gods, and turn Homo sapiens into Homo Deus (gods).  If we solve death or live until 150, how will it change our society?

“Every day millions of people decide to grant their smartphone a bit more control over their lives or try a new and more effective antidepressant drug. In pursuit of health, happiness and power, humans will gradually change first one of their features and then another, and another, until they will no longer be human.”  ― Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

Homo Deus is extremely informative book: why do we have lawn in the front yard? Because it looks nice or because it used to be a sign of prosperity? What is the difference between humans and other animals? Can we really claim that oh animals aren’t self-conscious…that it is just their urges… Are we the superior life forms or just local bullies?

“This is the best reason to learn history: not in order to predict the future, but to free yourself of the past and imagine alternative destinies. Of course this is not total freedom – we cannot avoid being shaped by the past. But some freedom is better than none.”
― Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

I  don’t know how to begin to describe Homo Deus. It’s shocking, entertaining and incredibly thoughtful. As I mentioned before, this book poses some excellent questions that make you question your existence. Why do we think of ourselves as superior to all other life forms. Why do we have such strong faith in imaginary things such as money, gods, human rights, companies…And what will become of us if dataism succeeds. All in all, it’s clear that we can’t keep living like this.  Harari’s writing style is very engaging. He’s a bit of sarcastic and negative when he questions religion, our history, science, technology, humanity, our supposedly superior position to other life forms, humanism, liberalism, yet he doesn’t claim that he’s some expert in this matter, he just gives you a set of facts.

 5/5 stars.

Tips
1. This is a sequel to Homo Sapiens so I recommend to read that one first. As with Homo Sapiens, I really recommend this book for everyone because it revolutionizes the way you see this world.
2. Harari’s clarity in his thoughts is beautiful and makes reading any one of his books very enjoyable.
3. There’s a lot of pessimism/realism in this book. I know some people have found it too negatively written but I think it’s the truth about our history and future.

Thoughts?

~ Anastasia

 

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

“You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.”
― Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is a book by Yuval Harari first published in Hebrew in Israel in 2011 and in English in 2014. It’s a fantastic book that wraps 10 000 years of human history in just 443 pages. Sapiens gives us very interesting topics to ponder upon: why did our species win, why do we believe in such imaginative things as gods, nations, laws and human rights. What we are really doing to our planet. And at this rate, what is ahead of us.

“How do you cause people to believe in an imagined order such as Christianity, democracy or capitalism? First, you never admit that the order is imagined.”
― Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Harari’s writing is very provocative and sarcastic. He questions everything about history and about who do we think we are. I think the most shocking part for me was the murder mystery at the beginning of the book, to read that how yes just 100 000 years ago, there were six different human species. And what happened to five of them? There is the interbreeding theory, yet it is also possible that we became the victorious group through a genocide. And it’s not too hard to believe that other species were hunted down and killed by our ancestors when we keep in mind what has happened in the last few centuries to aboriginal people of different countries and to other mammals.

“Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, Sapiens have thus been living in a dual reality. On the one hand, the objective reality of rivers, trees and lions; and on the other hand, the imagined reality of gods, nations and corporations. As time went by, the imagined reality became ever more powerful, so that today the very survival of rivers, trees and lions depends on the grace of imagined entities such as the United States and Google.”
― Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

  Needless to say, I very much enjoyed reading both Sapiens and its sequel Homo Deus written by Harari, they were both just dizzyingly good. I don’t think I fully understood the process of evolution and how we are no different from other mammals before reading it. However, I didn’t like how the author kept rambling and at times it felt like some issues were being repeated one too many times.

I’d rate this book 4/5 stars.

Tips
1.I recommend this book for everyone because it changes the way you think.
2. There’s a wonderful sequel to this book called Homo Deus.
3. Harari doesn’t use any difficult words and his thought process is very easy to follow.

To end this post, I’d like to urge you to go to watch Harari’s TED talk “Why humans run the world” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzj7Wg4DAbs and add this book on your to-be-read-pile if you haven’t yet.

Thoughts? Have you read this?

~ Anastasia

 

How-To Catch a Falling Star

“A philosopher once asked, “Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are human?” Pointless, really…”Do the stars gaze back?” Now, that’s a question.”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

Stardust is a novel by British writer Neil Gaiman, published with illustrations by Charles Vess in 1999. It tells a story Tristran Thorn who promises to bring back a fallen star for his beloved and crosses the wall that divides his English country town from a dangerous world of lords and witches, all of them in search of the star. And Tristran soon discovers that stars are not how he imagined them to be.

“He stared up at the stars: and it seemed to him then that they were dancers, stately and graceful, performing a dance almost infinite in its complexity. He imagined he could see the very faces of the stars; pale, they were, and smiling gently, as if they had spent so much time above the world, watching the scrambling and the joy and the pain of the people below them, that they could not help being amused every time another little human believed itself the center of its world, as each of us does.”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

Stardust was I think the second book I read by Neil Gaiman, first one being Neverwhere. I adore his writing and have to agree with Stephen King when he said that “Gaiman is a treasure-house of story and we are lucky to have him”. Stardust is a beautiful fairytale targeted more to adult readers, and it’s a wonderful thing that someone writes fairytales for adults.

“It’s not hard to own something. Or everything. You just have to know that it’s yours, and then be willing to let it go.”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

“Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at the stars because we are human?”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

I’d rate this book 4/5 stars. I’d give more but the problem here lies in me loving  Neverwhere and  American Gods even more.

Tips
1.
You´ll adore Stardust if you love fantasy and if you like books like The Princess Bride or works of Lord Dunsany.
2. It’s a quick read because it’s a short read, under 250 pages and because Gaiman writes so brilliantly.
3.
If you love reading fairytales, here’s one you should read.
4.
You can read an excerpt of Stardust here.
5.
There is a  good film adaptation of the book from 2007.

Have you read Neil Gaiman’s books? Have you read this?

“You have to believe. Otherwise, it will never happen.”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust