Book Bundles: Where We Were and How We Got Here

Drawing of books, open and closed and lined up in a row. A glass inkwell, calligraphy pen, old timey spectacles.

Welcome to the Modcast’s blog series, Book Bundles. This is where we recommend two or more books based around a topic or theme. So you’ve got options!

I think the title really says it all: We can’t know where we’re going until we know where we’ve been. If you’re interested in origins, check these out:

Genesis: The Story of How Everything Began by Guido Tonelli, translated by Erica Segre and Simon Carnell

This is a bit dry reading in some places, and it does not include a bibliography. Honestly, it reads like a script for an informative video or documentary. Dare I say: an episode of Crash Course?

“Curiosity and wonderment about the origins of the universe are at the heart of our experience of the world. From Hesiod’s Chaos, described in his poem about the origins of the Greek gods, Theogony, to today’s mind-bending theories of the multiverse, humans have been consumed by the relentless pursuit of an answer to one awe inspiring question: What exactly happened during those first moments?”

Life’s Edge: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive by Carl Zimmer

This is a fascinating overview of biological concepts of life that not only stretch our own imaginations, but call into question what we thought we knew. Or at least for me it did. The brief histories and biographies are interesting snippets, particularly since I’ve heard of few of these figures and organisms.

“Carl Zimmer investigates one of the biggest questions of all: What is life? The answer seems obvious until you try to seriously answer it. Is the apple sitting on your kitchen counter alive, or is only the apple tree it came from deserving of the word? If we can’t answer that question here on earth, how will we know when and if we discover alien life on other worlds? The question hangs over some of society’s most charged conflicts–whether a fertilized egg is a living person, for example, and when we ought to declare a person legally dead. Charting the obsession with Dr. Frankenstein’s monster and how Coleridge came to believe the whole universe was alive, Zimmer leads us all the way into the labs and minds of researchers working on engineering life from the ground up.”

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

This book is surprisingly accessible, and I personally loved the narrative track it took.

“In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come?”

Have any book recommendations on the topic? Drop the title in a comment!

Published by modcasters

We’re a group of graduate students studying English Literature and Language on a mission to discuss literature, provide access to those on the deafness and/or blindness spectrum, and rock mustachios.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: