The best book I read last year was Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s an effectively audacious survey of all of human history. It’s grand scale doesn’t overwhelm and is remarkably concise.
Harari fills the narrative with fascinating facts and profound insights (and some whimsy) as he details where we came from and hints at where we might go from here. This is one I’m tempted to read all over again to better process the many insights into what it means to be a human.
The best novel I read last year was Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. It begins with the destruction of the moon by some unknown cause. Scientists soon discover that means the Earth is doomed, and there are two years to come up with a plan to save the human species by sending a select few into space.
The engineering details Stephenson describes can be mind-boggling and tedious. But the technical insight adds credibility to the grand and emotionally stunning, and ultimately satisfying, narrative.
I felt a persistent twinge of sadness as doomsday approached for Earth as we know it. Part two wasn’t as moving as the epic first part, but it offered a clever and hopeful conclusion.