21 Lessons for the 21st Century – Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens is likely in my top three favorite books of all time. Although I’ve stopped recommending it to people, because I think, if you don’t have a certain humanist bend you won’t appreciate it. And then, even if you are quite rational, Sapiens is likely to leave you feeling depressed as fuck. Or in the very least largely indifferent as to whether humanity is a ‘good’ thing or not.

As opening paragraphs go that might sounds like an indictment of  Yuval Noah Harari. But I really do love everything he’s written, so I was super excited to read his new book…. until I found out the title.


God I hate number titles. 12 rules. 21 lessons. 6 steps. 4 hour. Fuck you all. Seriously.

Having said that… my bedside table has a stack of paperbacks at the moment that is starting to teeter quite precariously to one side. My reading habits are probably much to be desired and I tend to flit, whimsically, from paperbacks to kindle to comics with no real… agenda. For someone who reads books cover to cover… I am likely the anti-christ.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century I bought on Audible, read by Derek Perkins (who is brilliant).

I’ve been re-listening to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History series (quite an undertaking) on my morning 5mi… I want to say run… but I think someone who actually runs might take issue with my form of forward locomotion… and be amused that I dain to call that ‘running’.

In any event, 21 lessons has been my staple for the last week on my morning exertions and post exercise, my companion on my commute. Unsurprisingly its really good and I’ve been hooked.

I don’t necessarily want to compare it with Sapiens or Homo Deus. I am however inclined to say that these books should likely be read in the order they were published in, and while they can be appreciated as single entities, to get the full on Harari experience… they should be consumed Sapiens, Homo Deus… *sigh* 21 Lessons. (two great titles followed by an utterly shit one, I blame… well originally Tim Ferriss… but more recently Jordan Peterson)

21 Lessons is more… current… I guess is the best way to describe it. Where as Sapiens is about the past and Homo Deus about the future. We are likely living in a transition period (although all humans throughout time have probably thought this) from the old liberal world order to… something else, as yet undefined… and we are struggling to decide what that new world order will look like. The decisions we as a species make now are absolutely critical to whether we make it as species in the future (unfortunately we will likely all be dead to see the outcomes of those decisions).

I think the biggest takeaway (for me at least) is that we can’t be passengers and spectators in this shift and decision making process and that we all need to start taking a much more active roll in how we progress as humanity and what our legacy will be to those future generations.