Why fans of Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari should check out this Canadian nonfiction book
This interview originally aired on Nov. 9, 2019.
The bestselling nonfiction book Sapiens by Israeli academic Yuval Noah Harari looks at the evolutionary history of humankind, from the Stone Age up to the 21st century. It's a look a Homo sapiens and the human capacity to store and retain information in our memory.
The Next Chapter columnist Victor Dwyer has read Sapiens and he has found a Canadian book that's a good match: Memory, edited by Philippe Tortell, Mark Turin and Margot Young.
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
"It certainly is a sweeping book and it's still on bestseller lists. It's his attempt to collate the memories that are worth keeping of who we are as a species. It's his stab at retrieving that past and also curating it as historians do. He starts the book about 70,000 years ago, with what he calls the cognitive revolution. But he notes there were humans roaming the earth long before that.
We kind of forget that there were other versions of humans all on the earth at the same time.
"We kind of forget that there were other versions of humans all on the earth at the same time. Central to the book is his assertion that what makes us different from all the other species is the fact that Homo sapiens share myths and fictions about ourselves. This is what defines us as a culture. Sapiens is a breathtaking biography-slash-autobiography of our species."
Memory edited by Philippe Tortell, Mark Turin and Margot Young
"This is a book called Memory and it's a collection of essays. It's curated by professors from the University of British Columbia. The book brings together academics from various interdisciplinary fields and it gets them thinking about the nature of memory throughout history.
These essays are ports of entry for thinking about how we make history — and how we remember our personal and collective histories.
"I'd recommend this essay collection to anyone thinking about this question of how memory works. These essays are ports of entry for thinking about how we make history — and how we remember our personal and collective histories."
Victor Dwyer's comments have been edited for length and clarity.