Book review


Rutger Bregman

In a few words

The hopeful non-fiction book I’m recommending everyone reads as an antidote to 2020. It explore's humankind's past, present and future, making a strong case that the true nature of our species is much friendlier than you may have been led to believe.

Great for

If you're an idealist that's sick of being told you're well-intentioned, but ultimately wrong and stupid, this book is for you! However, I'd also challenge the more cynical among us to give this book a read as it challenges some long-held assumptions about human nature that clearly don't serve the majority of society and promote only the worst among us to positions of power. As we say at BDS: Open Books Open Minds...

Why I love this book

This year has most of us shook, but it has also shown that we are deeply connected by our shared human experiences — equally vulnerable and equally responsible. He waka eke noa! For me, this theme of connection has been evident in my reading this year and led me to place greater value in my book group; a place where we both learn from one another and find common ground through literature. Usually, we end up relating what we’ve read to current events, questioning how we can be better as individuals, or the issues we see our community struggling with.

Sometimes though, the world appears indifferent and we wonder if it’s naïve to hope for better.

And then I read Humankind. I can’t shut up about this book. It may not have been our book club’s pick this month, but you can bet they heard my whole synopsis at our latest meeting! While reading it I found myself reading out whole passages to my husband because I felt they were too fascinating and relevatory not to be shared that instant.

I must confess I think the main reason I loved it is because I’m an idealist, but that’s also why I’m dying for cynics to read it too. I want to know what they would think of a book that argued humans, as a species, are naturally cooperative, friendly, altruistic — in other words; pretty decent.

Written by the same author as Utopia for Realists, it’s the most hopeful, uplifting thing I’ve read in ages. It’s well-researched, full of interesting real-life examples and, most of all, it has heaps to discuss.

My one criticism would be

I haven't any. Please read this book.

Renee Blackburn


Renee's book group has reignited a passion for reading widely, but she’s particularly partial to well-written non-fiction that encourages her to view the world in a different way. 

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