The book club at Talking Tables is a tradition that has been running for several years now and it’s always been a great opportunity for the booklovers among us to get together, get reading and celebrate our love of literature. With so many great books out there, we’re often spoilt for choice and look to other book clubs for inspiration. This year we thought we’d repay the favour and share our thoughts with all of you.
This month’s book club choice was Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s been our first non-fiction read of the year and one that’s been highly recommended to many of us.
It’s always refreshing to mix up your reading habits every so often and, although we mainly read fiction in the TT book club, we like to occasionally have a go at something autobiographical or factual. Sapiens has been getting some really great reviews so we thought we’d see for ourselves what all the fuss is about.
This was a great book for discussion, and I think we enjoyed talking about it as much as we did reading it. Some people have found fault with the way Yuval states assumptions as fact, but I think as long as you realise that the book isn’t gospel, you’ll get a lot out of it. It also doesn’t hurt, that the writing is engaging and anecdotal and is a far cry from the dry and stuffy academic text some of us imagined it might be.
The book is divided into the different stages of our shared history and offers compelling arguments and insights into how we became what we are today. One of the most surprising and fascinating aspects of the book for us were the various benefits and disadvantages of each phase of our evolution. It seems like every time we’ve made a step forward, we’ve lost something in the bargain.
For instance, most of us were surprised to hear of how our hunter gatherer ancestors enjoyed better diets and overall health than we currently do! I think one of the most important takeaways from our reading is how life hasn’t developed in a straight line, and how our growth as a species has always been a compromise between ourselves, our health, and our planet.
One very sobering aspect of the book details the various ways in which our development has come at the expense of our planet and the other organisms we share it with. Over the last few years, we’ve been thinking a great deal about how we personally affect our environment, from the materials we use for our products and packaging to our impact on our community both locally and globally.
We’d recommend Sapiens as a great conversation starter for book groups. It provides a kind of distance from our own history which allows us to see where we came from, how we got there and most importantly where we might want to go from here.
For our next book we have chosen to read Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi. We’ll let you know next month how we got on. Happy reading!
Talking Tables book club