Over a decade in the making, this game-changing book is Robert Sapolsky’s genre-shattering attempt to answer that question as fully as perhaps only he could, looking at it from every angle. Sapolsky’s storytelling concept is delightful but it also has a powerful intrinsic logic: he starts by looking at the factors that bear on a person’s reaction in the precise moment a behavior occurs, and then hops back in time from there, in stages, ultimately ending up at the deep history of our species and its genetic inheritance.
There are four Cormoran Strike books, written by “Robert Galbraith” aka JK Rowlings. Obviously the JK in JK Rowlings has some significance. Anyway, they are really fantastic books. Extraordinarily well written private eye literature pieces that are not hobgoblins of the patriarchy are hard to come by. Each book is great, but as a set (and yes you must read them in order) they develop threads and characters that will make you want to read them again once you’ve gone through them all.
And I mention them now because one of them is on sale relatively cheap for the Kindle, at least, in the US. (That’s number 2, for 4.99, which is cheap for this sort of in-demand book.)
For reference, following is the series. If you haven’t read them yet and don’t have any, you might track down used copies of a couple of them, and mix and match (but even used copies of these books are on the high side).
Africa: A History is an anthology that includes some older material, but all good. This is totally within my area of expertise, and I can say this book is full of classic writing by classic scholars. Not a light read. Edited by Alvin Josephy.
And I mention this now because it is dirt cheap on Kindle.
People of the Book: A Novel, by Geraldine Brooks, is one of my favorite books. The focal character is a book restorer, brought in to examine and work with a book that has an incredible recent, and ancient, history. Inspired in part by a real event, this book takes the reader through history and across Europe and North Africa. So cheap on Kindle you would be crazy to not get it.
Speaking of this author, Geraldine Brooks also has another book, Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague, about a 17th century village on pandemic lock-down. I haven’t read it, but I thought for some reason it might be worht noting.
The chronicles of Narnia, to be read in whatever order you feel is correct (but there is really only One True Order), are now for a short time available for $1.99 each in Kindle form. This probably only applies to US buyers, but I don’t know that for a fact.
“We can all imagine such “other worlds”–be they worlds just slightly different than our own or worlds full of magic and wonder–but it is only in fiction that we can travel to them. From The Wizard of Oz to The Dark Tower, from Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass to C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, there is a rich tradition of this kind of fiction, but never before have the best parallel world stories and portal fantasies been collected in a single volume–until now.”
It is an anthology of some kind, I put it here because it looks interesting, but I’ve not read it. Have you?
Jailbird: A Novel by Kurt Vonnegut, for two bucks. This is related to current events:
Jailbird takes us into a fractured and comic, pure Vonnegut world of high crimes and misdemeanors in government—and in the heart. This wry tale follows bumbling bureaucrat Walter F. Starbuck from Harvard to the Nixon White House to the penitentiary as Watergate’s least known co-conspirator. But the humor turns dark when Vonnegut shines his spotlight on the cold hearts and calculated greed of the mighty, giving a razor-sharp edge to an unforgettable portrait of power and politics in our times.
Also, while we are talking about cheap books, Powder Burn by Carl Hiaasen, in case you are a Hiaasen fan. I’ve not read any of his more recent books, and maybe that is because I don’t like them as much as his earlier books, but I don’t want to put down any book I’ve not read.
JD Rockefeller believed himself to be something of a gift from god, a gift to capitalism. I’m not big on the god thing, but Ron Chernow is a gift of some kind to the art of biography. He writes big thick books that are actually about 25% less thick than they look because the last quarter is footnotes. He is famous for writing the biography that became the famous musical known as Hamilton. You know of whom I speak.