We've all got them. Books we think will make us smarter but that are just a bit too daunting every time you go to pick them up and read. Mine in recent times has been Yuval Harari's Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. I placed it on hold, had the hold come in, checked it out and then returned it unread. I think that probably happened a couple of times. Not because I wasn't interested, but because when I'd pick it up it felt like too weighty a read (and yes, it's actually physically heavy too as it's printed on glossy paper). So for all my desire and good intentions - everything I'd heard made me sure I'd find it interesting and stimulating - it kept being unread. And then Yuval, who I now feel like I've met and had a conversation with, did something wonderful. He worked with David Vandermeulen and Daniel Casanave to produce his book into a 2-volume graphic novel version of his books. And oh how I enjoyed this first volume - and felt like I got smarter too.
Using a conversation style (literally) this graphic volume of Sapiens covers the prehistory and early history of homosapiens as Yuval brings the reader from very early humankind to the industrial revolution (or thereabouts) using full-color illustrations and friendly explanations. Why homo sapiens survived when neanderthals did not? That's here. The role that gossip and social engagement played in the survival of humans? Yep. The whys and hows of religions' rise? It's explained. This is one that will work for those like me who haven't yet read the full book (though I now want to even more than I did before) and for older tweens and teens too. Very nicely done. And on to volume 2, The Pillars of Civilization for me.