Review: Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari

SapiensSapiens is a book that I’ve had sat on my shelf for a while. I bought it alongside a cup of coffee and a slice of cake in my local Waterstones quite some time ago with the intention to read it after all my exams were over and such as it’s a non-fiction book.

When I picked this up I was expecting something very much more based on human evolution. While there is a large part of this book which is dedicated to the evolution of humans, I would say it is very much more an anthropological study of human history. It wasn’t what I was expecting but it definitely surprised me in a good way! Also, I thought this book was much longer than it actually is. It appears to look a good 600 pages long but the actual book is only 466 – it’s just written on gloriously thick paper!

I felt like this book and I were a good match. It contained all of the bits of human evolution that I have studied at university and interest me alongside the anthropological evidence which corroborates it and biologists often overlook! It’s really accessible, as someone who has experience in evolutionary biology it filled in gaps in my education with information which actually makes it easier to understand than a dry lecture is capable of!

I think there is definitely something for everyone in this book, for me it wasn’t only the evolutionary aspect, which I’m very much interested in academically, but there were segments on how gender roles have been established over time and why some of it just makes no sense. Some of it made me angry, some of it was actually hard reading for me – reading how the gender gap evolved but then there were segments on the comparison of biological sex and cultural gender and how biological sex has not changed whereas how society views and treats women has, quite considerably (although, in many areas, still not enough!) changed which sort of offsets the harsh reality.

I find non-fiction very hard to review as it’s a much more personal taste than fiction as you have to have a passion or an interest in the subject of the book before you pick it up and it’s much harder to ‘lose yourself’ in non fiction. For me this was great though and I’d happily recommend it to my friends, peers and anyone interested in human history, evolution or anthropology! There are a lot of things to like about this book and a lot of people I think could enjoy reading it. So don’t be put off by its size because it’s totally worth the read and it’s not that difficult of a read, either. While it’s not complicated, it’s not patronising either. I’m happily giving this 4*!

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