Seventy thousand years ago, organisms from the species Homo sapiens emerged on the scene. The study of their development and activities is called history. In his ambitious study, Yuval Noah Harari explains that human history has been propelled forward by three revolutions: the Cognitive Revolution, the Agricultural Revolution, and the Scientific Revolution. Humans have shown their capacity for profoundly impacting their environment, and each of the three revolutionary thresholds that we have crossed increased this capacity. Humankind ignores its powerful and often destructive tendencies at its own peril and the planet’s, but there is still reason to hope for a better tomorrow. Time will tell which path humanity will take.
Read on for key insights from Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.
12 Minute Read
“All good. It's all good!” This was Beau Biden's response to each new setback as he endured the ravages of glioblastoma. This positive attitude buoyed his dad, Joe Biden, who was serving his sixth year as vice president of the United States. Balancing his devotion to family and to country in seasons of crisis made 2016 the most tumultuous year of Biden’s life. In Promise Me Dad, he reflects on the year and the lessons and challenges it contained.
Read on for key insights from Promise Me, Dad.
6 Minute Read
Ray Dalio built Bridgewater Associates out of his small New York City apartment in 1975. Bridgewater is now considered one of the most successful investing firms in the world, and Times and Forbes have deemed him one of the world’s wealthiest, most influential people alive. In this book, Dalio distills decades of knowledge and experience into guiding principles for getting all that we can out of life. According to Dalio, it all begins with fundamental truths that equip us to achieve our personal and professional goals.
Read on for key insights from Principles.
11 Minute Read
What does Bill Gates’ story hold in common with the Beatles’? Why are so many professional hockey players born between January and March? Why do Asians tend to excel in math? In his examination of success stories, Malcolm Gladwell maintains that the way we understand the accomplishments of exceptional individuals often overlooks factors critical to their achievements. Applying a seemingly peculiar metric, Gladwell aims to debunk the popular narratives that assume success is due primarily to one’s individual talent and tenacity. The broader contexts of unique opportunities and advantages better explain the success of these remarkable individuals, or outliers.
Read on for key insights from Outliers.
11 Minute Read
Catholic professor Anthony Esolen maintains that American culture is rotting along with the rest of Western civilization and is in desperate need of revitalization. Out of the Ashes is a blunt rallying call to Christians to do everything they can to restore a love of truth, appreciation of beauty, a proper understanding of education, and a joy in play and creating beautiful things. Without the rediscovery of these fundamental ideals and practices, Esolen anticipates American society will continue to become increasingly antisocial, shallow, unstable, and prone to tyranny.
Read on for key insights from Out of the Ashes.
9 Minute Read
What if humanity’s extinction doesn’t come about through climate change, a nuclear holocaust, or a virulent pathogen for which we have no cure? What if an Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) takeover is more than just a good sci-fi premise? Author and journalist James Barrat was a technophile and optimistic about AI’s potential to serve humanity—until he dug a little deeper and discovered a far more chilling (and likely) future.
Read on for key insights from Our Final Invention.
8 Minute Read
Sheryl Sandberg was devastated when her husband suddenly and unexpectedly died. Family friend and psychology professor, Adam Grant, was a resource and comfort in that season, walking her through the loss. This book brings together personal reflections on grief, interviews with people who have had to overcome harrowing challenges, and a distillation of the latest research on dealing with hardship and resilience-building. More than just information, Option B is full of practical tools and moving reflections that will benefit those suffering loss, as well as their loved ones wondering how best to support them.
Read on for key insights from Option B.
8 Minute Read
In this brief, popular-level treatise, Yale professor of history Timothy Synder argues that, “History does not repeat, but it does instruct.” He appeals to the practice of the United States’ Founding Fathers who, in the face of threats to the political order, examined the rise and fall of ancient democracies to gain insights and establish a political system that would safeguard a free society against tyranny. Snyder invites his reader to continue the tradition of understanding history in the interest of preserving liberty. He offers twenty lessons from the twentieth century European experience, a period full of destruction and bloodshed under fascist and communist regimes. Snyder advises that it would be wise to learn from the missteps and mishaps that allowed tyranny to gain footholds in the not-so-distant past.
Read on for several key insights from On Tyranny.
5 Minute Read
Read a firsthand account of the horrors of American slavery and bravery in the face of oppression, written by a man who found freedom from slavery through education and escape from Baltimore to New York.
Read on for key insights from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.
10 Minute Read
The USA Memory Championship is an annual competition held in New York since the early 90s. There are several events, including name-face recall, memorizing long numerical sequences, and remembering the order of shuffled decks of cards. Joshua Foer attended the competition as a reporter one year and a competitor the next. This book details Foer’s unexpected immersion into the world of memory in the intervening year. Through extensive research, interviews on the topics, and training with “mental athletes”, he came to realize anyone can drastically improve their memory, and proved it by winning the USA Memory Championship after only a year of concerted effort.
Read on for key insights from Moonwalking with Einstein.
5 Minute Read