Petrik's Reviews > Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
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really liked it
bookshelves: owned-ebooks
Recommended to Petrik by: Captain America

Chris Evans highly recommended this book. When Captain America says so, you listen.

It’s been almost three years since I joined Goodreads and this is literally the second non-fiction book I finished reading. The last time I read a non-fiction book was in December 2016, it was an autobiography titled In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park. Anyone who knows my reading taste should know that I don’t read non-fiction, not only I found the majority of them to be boring, the main reason behind why I read is escapism and the best genre to offer me the best escapism experience lies in SFF. I don’t even know how to rate and review this book because it always made me feels awkward to give a rating to a non-fiction work, especially if it’s an autobiography, which luckily this book is not. Please remember that my rating—as always—speaks mostly for my reading enjoyment, not the technicality of the book.

“Nothing captures the biological argument better than the famous New Age slogan: ‘Happiness begins within.’ Money, social status, plastic surgery, beautiful houses, powerful positions – none of these will bring you happiness. Lasting happiness comes only from serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.”


Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari is exactly what the title claimed to be. Harari did a spectacular job in compressing important moments—which are HUGE—of our history into this book. I’ve heard so many incredible things about it but never gotten around to it because I thought I would be bored with it, this book, however, proves to be incredibly enlightening and engaging than I thought it would be. There are way too many topics of discussion to unpack in a single review for me, Harari elaborated on how humanity became the most powerful race, the insane power in collective belief, money, war, advancements of technology, religions, and many more important topics.

“Money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.”


A huge part of why I found this book to be not as factual as I expected. Don’t get me wrong, Harari provided tons of facts and well-researched notes, but the author’s belief and opinion definitely bleeds into the text. This isn’t particularly a problem for me; I found it highly intriguing to read his perspective on humanity and our history. In general, I like to understand why people act or think the way they do about something and Harari explained his reasonings. Obviously, there were some of his opinions that I agree with, some that I don’t. However, I never found the book to be preachy, his combination of knowledge, facts, and opinion made me think about our society these days. Plus, I doubt that this book would’ve been compelling for me to read if it were all pure facts and data.

“How many young college graduates have taken demanding jobs in high-powered firms, vowing that they will work hard to earn money that will enable them to retire and pursue their real interests when they are thirty-five? But by the time they reach that age, they have large mortgages, children to school, houses in the suburbs that necessitate at least two cars per family, and a sense that life is not worth living without really good wine and expensive holidays abroad. What are they supposed to do, go back to digging up roots? No, they double their efforts and keep slaving away.”


I’m sure there are thousands of reviewers more knowledgeable than me that can tell you why this book is incredible. I’ll close this review by saying that if you feel intimidated by this book, I can assure you that Harari’s prose was utterly easy to digest. Sure there were a few topics—like capitalism—that bored me but most of the time I had a fantastic and enlightening time reading this book. Heck, I personally think this book should be available as a must-read book for everyone at school when they’re learning about history. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind made education and information a joy to read. The last pages of the book showed glimpses of Harari’s thoughts about the future of humanity, which I assume is what his book, Homo Deus, will be about and I look forward to reading it, hopefully within this year.

“Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?”


You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions
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Quotes Petrik Liked

Yuval Noah Harari
“One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Yuval Noah Harari
“Nothing captures the biological argument better than the famous New Age slogan: ‘Happiness begins within.’ Money, social status, plastic surgery, beautiful houses, powerful positions – none of these will bring you happiness. Lasting happiness comes only from serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Yuval Noah Harari
“Money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Yuval Noah Harari
“How many young college graduates have taken demanding jobs in high-powered firms, vowing that they will work hard to earn money that will enable them to retire and pursue their real interests when they are thirty-five? But by the time they reach that age, they have large mortgages, children to school, houses in the suburbs that necessitate at least two cars per family, and a sense that life is not worth living without really good wine and expensive holidays abroad. What are they supposed to do, go back to digging up roots? No, they double their efforts and keep slaving away.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Yuval Noah Harari
“Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Yuval Noah Harari
“According to Buddhism, the root of suffering is neither the feeling of pain nor of sadness nor even of meaninglessness. Rather, the real root of suffering is this never-ending and pointless pursuit of ephemeral feelings, which causes us to be in a constant state of tension, restlessness and dissatisfaction. Due to this pursuit, the mind is never satisfied. Even when experiencing pleasure, it is not content, because it fears this feeling might soon disappear, and craves that this feeling should stay and intensify. People are liberated from suffering not when they experience this or that fleeting pleasure, but rather when they understand the impermanent nature of all their feelings, and stop craving them. This is the aim of Buddhist meditation practices. In meditation, you are supposed to closely observe your mind and body, witness the ceaseless arising and passing of all your feelings, and realise how pointless it is to pursue them. When the pursuit stops, the mind becomes very relaxed, clear and satisfied. All kinds of feelings go on arising and passing – joy, anger, boredom, lust – but once you stop craving particular feelings, you can just accept them for what they are. You live in the present moment instead of fantasising about what might have been. The resulting serenity is so profound that those who spend their lives in the frenzied pursuit of pleasant feelings can hardly imagine it. It is like a man standing for decades on the seashore, embracing certain ‘good’ waves and trying to prevent them from disintegrating, while simultaneously pushing back ‘bad’ waves to prevent them from getting near him. Day in, day out, the man stands on the beach, driving himself crazy with this fruitless exercise. Eventually, he sits down on the sand and just allows the waves to come and go as they please. How peaceful!”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind


Reading Progress

June 15, 2019 – Shelved
June 25, 2019 – Started Reading
June 29, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-32 of 32 (32 new)

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message 1: by Phee (new)

Phee Great review Petrik. I've started reading nonfiction this year and this one keeps popping up in my recommendations. So I'll get to this one soon.
I get where you are coming from, I felt the same as you about nonfiction, that it would be boring etc. But when you find the right sort of nonfiction for you then you can be pleasantly surprised. I've found that the more nonfiction I read, the more I like it.


Petrik Phee wrote: "Great review Petrik. I've started reading nonfiction this year and this one keeps popping up in my recommendations. So I'll get to this one soon.
I get where you are coming from, I felt the same a..."


Thank you, Phee! I was feeling a bit slumpy with my SFF read and decided to change my reading completely for a while. Might as well try this one because it's so hyped and highly praised. So glad i enjoyed it too! I hope you will love it as much as I did! :)


message 3: by Chalken (new) - added it

Chalken I've never properly sit down and read a non-fiction book. Ever since I got into SFF books over a year ago, they've been acting as my coping mechanism and a way to escape reality. However, I might read this sometime when I need a break from SFF. And as always, great review, Petrik, don't sell yourself short, you are knowledgeable enough :)


WhatIReallyRead Great review! I’ve just finished this book as well and liked it too.


message 5: by Megan (new) - added it

Megan Excellent review! I’ve been very curious about this book and will now move it up in my TBR.


message 6: by 123sha (new) - added it

123sha Added it to my TBR because you said Captain America said so 😂


Petrik Chalken wrote: "I've never properly sit down and read a non-fiction book. Ever since I got into SFF books over a year ago, they've been acting as my coping mechanism and a way to escape reality. However, I might r..."

Aww, thanks, Chalken! That's seriously why I prefer reading SFF over non-fiction too most of the time! But yeah, when you're in need of a break from the genre, this is a great choice! :)


Petrik WhatIReallyRead wrote: "Great review! I’ve just finished this book as well and liked it too."

Thank you! It was pretty great and I'm glad you loved it too! :)


Petrik Megan wrote: "Excellent review! I’ve been very curious about this book and will now move it up in my TBR."

Thank you, Megan! I think this book definitely earned a try. It's very enlightening regardless whether you agree with his view or not! :)


message 10: by Petrik (last edited Jun 30, 2019 10:27AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Petrik 123sha wrote: "Added it to my TBR because you said Captain America said so 😂"

The owner of America's ass says so, we have to listen! :D


message 11: by Andrew (new)

Andrew As far as I'm concerned, that's humanity's ass.


Petrik Andrew wrote: "As far as I'm concerned, that's humanity's ass."

"Humanity.... ASSemble..."


message 13: by Andrew (new)

Andrew You should definitely check out Homo Deus as well, think I liked it even more!


message 14: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Foy I agree with Andrew, Homo Deus is very good. As a fellow SFF addict who rarely reads non-fiction, Homo Deus strikes a good balance. I think it's because it sort of describes an ideological framework in which most SFF actually lives. It's like a non-fiction episode of Black Mirror.


message 15: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Great review, Petrik! It's always good to mix things things up once in a while and try something outside your comfort zone.


~Dani~ LazyTurtle's Books I read this earlier this month! I agree the capitalist part did seem to keep going on and on and on. But I enjoyed reading about it as an extension of the concept of imagined realities. Definitely a thought provoking read.


Petrik Andrew wrote: "You should definitely check out Homo Deus as well, think I liked it even more!"

Oh yes! I totally will give Homo Deus a go. I hope I can get to it within this year! :)


Petrik Matthew wrote: "I agree with Andrew, Homo Deus is very good. As a fellow SFF addict who rarely reads non-fiction, Homo Deus strikes a good balance. I think it's because it sort of describes an ideological framewor..."

Thanks, Matthew! That's assuring to hear! Also... "non-fiction episode of Black Mirror." Count me intrigued already! :D


Petrik Colleen wrote: "Great review, Petrik! It's always good to mix things things up once in a while and try something outside your comfort zone."

Thanks, Colleen! I agree so much! I definitely needed this read to refresh my palate too! :)


Petrik ~Dani~ LazyTurtle's Books wrote: "I read this earlier this month! I agree the capitalist part did seem to keep going on and on and on. But I enjoyed reading about it as an extension of the concept of imagined realities. Definitely ..."

Urgh the capitalist part was too longggg xD that's probably the part where the book really didn't click with me.

The ideas behind the imagined realities was, somehow, something that I never thought of deeply until I read this book. Sure it's always in the back of my head, but Harari really explored and open the ideas for me, I loved it!


message 21: by Sara (new) - added it

Sara For me, when Petrik says so, I listen :) So...by my logic that pretty much makes you Captian America.


message 22: by Petrik (last edited Jun 30, 2019 08:44PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Petrik Sara wrote: "For me, when Petrik says so, I listen :) So...by my logic that pretty much makes you Captian America."

Awww, that's really nice of you. Thank you, Sara! :')


message 23: by Alexandra (new) - added it

Alexandra Had me at Chris Evans lol


Petrik Alexandra wrote: "Had me at Chris Evans lol"

Hahahaha xD


message 25: by Emily (new)

Emily This book has been sitting on my shelf for ages...glad you enjoyed it. I'll get to it one day :)


Petrik Emily wrote: "This book has been sitting on my shelf for ages...glad you enjoyed it. I'll get to it one day :)"

Thank you, Emily! It was really good, I hope you'll enjoy it when you get around to it! :)


message 27: by Alyssia (new)

Alyssia Cooke I've just picked this up... from your review it sounds really interesting, although currently I find myself more interested in the very early beginnings.


Petrik Alyssia wrote: "I've just picked this up... from your review it sounds really interesting, although currently I find myself more interested in the very early beginnings."

Niceee! I hope you'll enjoy the rest of the book! :)


Neriah Samraksha You read this when Captain America and Loki recommends it. You don't say no. You just silently go and get this book and read it. It's that simple.😅😅


Petrik Neriah wrote: "You read this when Captain America and Loki recommends it. You don't say no. You just silently go and get this book and read it. It's that simple.😅😅"

Precisely! Hahahhaa, Loki too!? I didn't know that one! xD


Neriah Samraksha Yup. Tom Hiddleston too. Maybe during his Kong: Skull Island days.


Petrik Neriah wrote: "Yup. Tom Hiddleston too. Maybe during his Kong: Skull Island days."

Hahahah I see! xD


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