Category Archives: books

Written For Today’s Homo Sapiens

It’s not fair to write a book review without completing the book but I’ve been known to do it before. It’s not a disservice really. I’m so fascinated by what I am reading in the book that I can’t wait to write down some early thoughts. The disservice is to myself – I have to stop reading, put that wonderful book down so I can jot down my impressions. By the time some of you pick up the book (and I hope you do!), I’ll be finished reading it.

The version of the book that I am reading is a traditional hardcover that was gifted to me by a friend some time back (Thanks S!). I had to get out of my Jack Reacher fog to finally pick it up. After being a kindle reader for a few years now, when I say I have to pick it up, I really mean it. It’s one weighty tome compared to my kindle!

So far, I have been completely fascinated.

The book is Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.  The author has a great website that you should also check out herePlease click on the links to find out more –  as much as you want to find out – about the book and author. I want to focus on my impressions rather than those facts.

Sapiens Cover

This is a book (an Amazon Best Book for February 2015, by the way) that combines history, anthropology and evolution into a highly readable, engrossing experience. It’s hard to take a break (and that, from a book of non-fiction!). Believe them or not, his theories are extreme and fascinating, some of which I would never have imagined.

To further intrigue you, I have picked out a couple of my favorite excerpts from the book (so far) and a couple of my favorite reviews of the book.  Just call me your curator.  You’re welcome.

The editorial reviews first; it was hard to pick just these from several available but they should give you a good idea of the quality of the book:

“It is one of the best accounts by a Homo sapiens of the unlikely story of our violent, accomplished species.…It is one hell of a story. And it has seldom been told better…. Compulsively readable and impossibly learned.” (Michael Gerson, Washington Post)

“Yuval Noah Harari’s celebrated Sapiens does for human evolution what Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time did for physics.… He does a superb job of outlining our slow emergence and eventual domination of the planet.” (Forbes)

“It’s not often that a book offers readers the possibility to reconsider, well, everything. But that’s what Harari does in this sweeping look at the history of humans.… Readers of every stripe should put this at the top of their reading lists. Thinking has never been so enjoyable.” (Booklist (starred review))

“The sort of book that sweeps the cobwebs out of your brain…. Harari…is an intellectual acrobat whose logical leaps will have you gasping with admiration.” (John Carey, Sunday Times (London))

And now for a couple of excerpts from the early sections of the book about what extraordinary trait made homo sapiens leave all other animals behind thousands of years ago. The connection he makes here is incredible, to say the least:

fiction 2

fiction 1

And finally, to help you decide whether to invest the time and read Sapiens, have a look at these chapters:

TOC Sapiens 2

How can you not be madly interested and intrigued?

Go. Get your copy and start reading.

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History began when humans invented gods, and will end when humans become gods.

— Yuval Noah Harari

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Am I Addicted to Jack Reacher?

When I was growing up, I could be called the queen of Mills & Boon. For those of you on this side of the pond, that translates to Harlequin romances. When I first came to the US aeons ago, to my dismay, I did not spot a single Mills & Boon book in book stores or libraries here. That’s when I discovered that the publisher here was Harlequin, and that there were thousands of those to be found. Whew!

My good friends in India can attest to my silly obsession. Remember when I would stow a book in my purse just so I could read it during the 10 minute movie interval? Talk about silly!

I was a voracious reader. This is a good quality to have. But I was also voraciously reading a lot of junk. This is not a good quality.

Thankfully, I have been evolving steadily and for some time now, my reading quality has gone up several notches. I couldn’t be more pleased with my selection of fiction and non-fiction books these days, nor with my wonderful companion and partner in crime, my kindle. It is more precious to me than my laptop and my iPhone. And that’s saying something!

Some months back, I discovered that my local library had a nice choice of kindle books that I could borrow. I decided to try a few new authors of fiction from their collection. One of them was this guy called, Lee Child. Honestly, I had never heard of him but the book was interestingly called The Affair, and it was available for borrowing.

And, lo and behold, a new addiction was born. 

First, it was a book here, a book there. Then, I started searching for all the ones that I had not read. I quickly exhausted the kindle supply at my local library. Now, I have the entire collection on my kindle.

In case you did not know, Lee Child invented an unlikely hero by the name of Jack Reacher. And he has spun tale after wonderful, gory tale with this hero.

reacher-full-set-books-853x1024

Jack Reacher is an Army brat and ex-Military Police, voluntarily retiring from the U.S. Army at the age of 36 and then wandering around the country – a drifter in the true sense of the word – running into and solving crime after gory crime. There are more than 20 books and surely more to come. Surely!

Many of you may have never read a Jack Reacher book, but you might have seen Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher in the movie that he produced and starred in last year. It’s a very good movie but doesn’t hold a candle to the books. In my humble opinion.

Cruise did great in the movie – I was even able to think of him as Jack Reacher and not at all about Scientology while I watched. Kind of ironic though. Jack Reacher of the book fame is 6 foot 5 inches tall and nowhere near as handsome as Cruise. But it kinda worked.

tom cruise as jack reacher

Tom Cruise appears to have bought the movie rights to all the books and I hear that there’s another movie in the making. In any case, I’m not a fan of the movie as much as I’m a fan of the character and his stories. 

But I do hope I’m not getting addicted to these books. I regard the Mills & Boon days of my past with some horror and don’t want to get stuck in another such rut again. Not that these are anything like those sappy romances…

I’m trying to deliberately intersperse my Jack Reacher book readings with something else. My self-prescribed rule is to never follow one Jack Reacher novel with another (but I’ve cheated a couple of times).

And all the while I keep hoping that I don’t run out of Jack Reacher books to read. In my lifetime.

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