The Next Chapter

Why you should read Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Lesley Barber, a composer for films like Manchester by the Sea, explains why Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari is a must-read.
Lesley Barber's film credits include Manchester by the Sea, You Can Count on Me and Mansfield Park. (

 Lesley Barber is composer of music for film and theatre. She most recently wrote the music for the Academy Award-nominated film Manchester by the Sea. Other notable films she's worked on include You Can Count On Me and Mansfield Park. Lesley is currently reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.

What I'm finding interesting is the way it's written — the information is compelling and expansive, but there's a way in. One moving part was how humans change from hunters and gatherers into farmers, and in doing so they short-changed their livestyle in many ways.

Harari makes the argument that, in some ways, we live a less happy and satisfying life than our early ancestors. That agriculture was a bargain between humans and grain, it took us away from the value of nature. What's fascinating about it was there was a thread of love, art and happiness — this was the first time people could be valued, nurtured and supported.

Lesley Barber's comments have been edited and condensed.