image of hands, book and a brain with caption 'what makes humans tick'

The Nature of Human Interaction

Hello Friends!

I love when a topic is so fascinating that it stimulates interest in another thing, and then another… the domino effect of interest, if you will. 🙂

I’m sure you won’t be surprised that my most recent domino effect of interest has been human interaction. How we communicate, what drives us, how we developed is such an intriguing field!

This particular interest chain started with listening to a podcast series by Stephen Fry called The Great Leap Years. An absolutely brilliant podcast about the technological and communication advances humans have made over the millennia. I could seriously listen to Stephen Fry read the phone book his voice is so melodic! The podcast was filled with such fascinating information.

[As an aside, listening to this podcast was what sparked the idea for You 4.0, my take on individual growth & development.]

Fry mentioned in his podcast that he got the idea for the podcast from reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. So of course I had to read it too. It describes how humankind advanced from ape, to nomad, to farmer, to today. There were so many aspects of human development that I’d not considered before. For example, that nomadic humans ate a much wider variety of foods than we do today. Farming, and in particular factory farming, has drastically reduced the number of different types of a food we have access to. (Think for example of how many different types of apples there are, and then of how many types you yourself eat.). And also how much of human culture – money, religion, countries – is all in our mind. Absolutely fascinating and definitely a concept I’d not considered before.

In a similar vein but more focused on our innate nature was Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman. Bregman’s concept of “homo puppy” – humans just want to be liked, and we have excelled as a species precisely because we are so social and caring – is a novel one. The book is filled with fascinating examples not only of how people can be kind and caring towards one another, but explains through that lens why exactly it sometimes happens that we are not. Really thought-provoking and very readable. 

Auf Deutsch ist Humankind auch erhältlich under dem Titel “Im Grunde Gut“. Und das ist sogar auch als ungekürztes Hörbuch kostenlos bei Spotify zu hören!

LAST BUT NOT LEAST IN THE HUMAN INTEREST CATEGORY…

I’d never read anything by my fellow Canadian, Malcolm Gladwell, but I heard him interviewed on the Armchair Expert podcast about his latest book, Talking to Strangers. The book sounded very much up my alley – how do we know how to trust people? The thing that caught my attention about this was that Gladwell mentioned that the audiobook was like a radio play: the audio for each interview done for the book was used in the audiobook. It wasn’t just Gladwell reading it. 

The subject of the book – trust and our ability to read strangers – was fascinating. But I think listening to it made it even more so. I loved hearing all the voices sharing their thoughts, opinion, and knowledge. A super interesting listen!

IT WOULDN’T BE A JULIA NEWSLETTER WITHOUT A BIT OF FICTION TO LOOK FORWARD TO, TOO!

Some of my favourite books are spy novels that take place during the Second World War. One of the first books in this genre that I remember completely devouring was Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett. From there, to more recent favourites like The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, and The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, this genre has long been one of my favourites!

Which brings me to The Black Swan of Paris by Karen Robards. It wasn’t quite of the same calibre as the books above, but it was interesting and well-written and I enjoyed it. The Nazi characters were a bit more caricature than I would have liked (let’s be honest, my husband and children are German so I no longer see all individuals who were involved in the war with the same black & white / good & evil lens I did as a teen), but the story on the whole was interesting.

I’m finding my attention span for anything screen-related dwindling after a year of online/virtual life and books are one of the few things that currently capture my complete attention! I am reading a lot more than usual, but I’m also reading slightly less deeply as well. So perhaps my recommendations need to be taken with that grain of salt?? 😉

What are you reading these days? I’d love to hear what’s on your To Read pile! Shoot me an email if you’ve got a good book recommendation. The best finds are those that have been recommended!

Stay well. Stay healthy. And have an awesome weekend!

Hugs,

Roosevelt quotation

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