A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
None of the summaries of this book even do it justice. Bryson is so good at making a non-fiction book about history, anthropology, philosophy, science, etc. both hilarious and entertaining – while also teaching you something. So many fascinating tidbits sprinkled throughout this one.
A Short History of Nearly Everything by American-British author Bill Bryson is a popular science book that explains some areas of science, using easily accessible language that appeals more to the general public than many other books dedicated to the subject.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari
Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology and economics, Harari explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behavior from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come? This book was so eye-opening.
100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism?
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson
A powerful comparison of the shaping of the caste system in America with that of India and Germany caste systems. While strong parallels can be seen between the three it’s important to note the specific way in which racism in America has (and continues to) shape the caste system. One of the most shocking things I learned from this book is that the Nazi’s used slavery in America and the American caste system as an example of how to implement it in Nazi Germany. Truly shameful and terrifying.
In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.
The Future We Choose, Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac
In this book the authors describe two different outcomes for our planet. In one, they describe what life on Earth will be like by 2050 if we fail to meet the Paris climate targets. In the other, they lay out what it will be like to live in a carbon neutral, regenerative world. They argue for confronting the climate crisis head-on, with determination and optimism.
In The Future We Choose, Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac–who led negotiations for the United Nations during the historic Paris Agreement of 2015–have written a cautionary but optimistic book about the world’s changing climate and the fate of humanity.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Bryan Stevenson
This is a heartbreaking book to read but if you live in your little protected bubble, you need to read it. Stevenson examines the history of the death penalty in America and how it is a direct descendant of the practice of lynching. He illustrates all the corrupt ways in which the justice system is designed to fail those who are not rich, white, and privileged- including wrongly convicting people and sentencing them to death.
Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit law office in Montgomery, Alabama, dedicated to defending the poor, the incarcerated, and the wrongly condemned. In Just Mercy, he uses cases he worked on to demonstrate how the justice system unfairly handles cases.
Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, Adam Grant
Why does it seem that so many people are resistant to learning, educating themselves, and maybe even changing their mind on things? This book was insightful on how our brains work, how our environment can shape the way we think, and how liberating it can be to embrace continually reexamining our way of thinking and how we feel about things.
Think Again is a book about the benefit of doubt, and about how we can get better at embracing the unknown and the joy of being wrong. Evidence has shown that creative geniuses are not attached to one identity, but constantly willing to rethink their stances and that leaders who admit they don’t know something and seek critical feedback lead more productive and innovative teams.
What non-fiction books would you add to this list?