21 Lessons for the 21 Century

“Humans think in stories rather than in facts, numbers, or equations, and the simpler the story, the better.” — Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21 Century

21 Lessons for the 21 Century is the newest work of best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari, first published just few weeks ago. We learned about the past from Sapiens. We learned about the future from Homo Deus. And in 21 Lessons for the 21 Century we embrace the NOW.

It’s hard to form words to describe my excitement and adoration for this book. As previous books, it certainly doesn’t let you down. 21 lessons cover many interesting topics about truth and how we are post-truth species and how some fake news only lasted for 700 years… So what you’re getting now is nothing.

Book is divided in five parts. First part explores the technological challenges: you might not have a job when you grow up because the world is changing so fast and because many jobs will be lost and it is still uncertain whether new jobs would come in their place. How big data is always watching and what would happen in case of a digital dictatorship. We are not equal now and we’ll be less so in the future because who will own all the data?

Second part explores political challenges of 21 Century. Humans have bodies…or do we, as separation of online and offline world is decreasing. And the immigration. No one seems keen to emigrate to Russia. Third part of the book is called ‘Despair and Hope’ and it is more philosophical and already offers some answers on big global questions like terrorism, wars and religion.

“Truth and power can travel together only so far. Sooner or later they go their separate ways. If you want power, at some point you will have to spread fictions. If you want to know the truth about the world, at some point you will have to renounce power.”— Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21 Century

Fourth part is exciting because it combines truth and science fiction (just kidding…or not). We do not only groupthink, we are also post-truth species. If you think propaganda spread out by Putin or Trump is bad, just imagine how some fake news lasted for centuries. Or forever. And we get to science fiction. You love movies and series like The Matrix, Westworld and Black Mirror. I know I do. But all of them seem to imply that machines would take over or that our authentic selves are trapped somewhere.

Last part, funnily, because I always tend to think that Harari is a hopeless pessimist, gives some hope and advise. By learning to adapt fastly, you might survive as change is now the only variable you can trust. And also a lot can be learned by just observing the world.

Perhaps, unlike Sapiens and Homo Deus, this book did not shock me and completely alter how I see the world (Homo Deus made me love evolution theory and turned me into atheist from agnostic). 21 Lessons for the 21 Century is deeply thoughtful and it mainly questions big global trends, not as much giving direct answers. This was also much more personal as Harari questions Judaism and openly discusses him being married to a man as well and his personal journey on how he came to understand reality through meditation for example. It’s a bit repetitive on fictional stories we love to weave though I guess that’s essential here. I loved this and would give it 5/5 stars

“To run fast, don’t take much luggage with you. Leave all your illusions behind. They are very heavy.”— Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21 Century

How-To Read 21 Lessons for the 21 Century

1. Read, digest, think. And then think more. Maybe start meditation?

2. You should read Sapiens and Homo Deus before tackling this one although it’s great independently as well.

3. Not a book that will revolutionize your thinking, though definitely great tool for deeper reflection on the world.

Have you read it? Would you want to read it? Thoughts?

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

 

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016

As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: “Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016” Pictures of the authors from Goodreads.

1. Sarah J. Maas


“You could rattle the stars,” she whispered. “You could do anything, if only you dared. And deep down, you know it, too. That’s what scares you most.”
― Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass

2. Tahereh Mafi

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”
― Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

3. Michael Cunningham

“Dear Leonard. To look life in the face. Always to look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it. To love it for what it is, and then, to put it away. Leonard. Always the years between us. Always the years. Always the love. Always the hours.”
― Michael Cunningham, The Hours

4. Jojo Moyes

“Some mistakes… Just have greater consequences than others. But you don’t have to let the result of one mistake be the thing that defines you. You, Clark, have the choice not to let that happen.”
― Jojo Moyes, Me Before You

5. Anthony Doerr

“But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?”
― Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

6. Ransom Riggs

“We cling to our fairy tales until the price for believing in them becomes too high.”
― Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

7. Patrick Ness

“Without a filter, a man is just chaos walking.”
― Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go

8.  Yuval Noah Harari

“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

9. Pierce Brown

“I will die. You will die. We will all die and the universe will carry on without care. All that we have is that shout into the wind – how we live. How we go. And how we stand before we fall.”
― Pierce Brown, Golden Son

10. Victoria Aveyard

“Rise, red as the dawn.”
― Victoria Aveyard, Red Queen

Happy TTT! What great new authors did you discover this year?