Here are our top ten recommendations if you are looking for the best books to read in Anthropology. We have made sure our list is diverse to cater to the interests of different types of readers.
1. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity's creation and evolution - a number one international best seller - that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be "human". One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one - Homo sapiens . What happened to the others? And what may happen to us? Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago, with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas. Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because, over the last few decades, humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become? This provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.
- Author: Yuval Noah Harari
- Genre: Audible Books & Originals, Science & Engineering, Science, Biological Sciences, Evolution & Genetics, Evolution
2. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
Number One New York Times Best Seller In Sapiens , he explored our past. In Homo Deus , he looked to our future. Now, one of the most innovative thinkers on the planet turns to the present to make sense of today's most pressing issues. "Fascinating...a crucial global conversation about how to take on the problems of the twenty-first century." (Bill Gates, The New York Times Book Review ) How do computers and robots change the meaning of being human? How do we deal with the epidemic of fake news? Are nations and religions still relevant? What should we teach our children? Yuval Noah Harari's 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a probing and visionary investigation into today's most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future. As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking becomes a tactic of war, and the world feels more polarized than ever, Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive. In twenty-one accessible chapters that are both provocative and profound, Harari builds on the ideas explored in his previous books, untangling political, technological, social, and existential issues and offering advice on how to prepare for a very different future from the world we now live in: How can we retain freedom of choice when Big Data is watching us? What will the future workforce look like, and how should we ready ourselves for it? How should we deal with the threat of terrorism? Why is liberal democracy in crisis? Harari's unique ability to make sense of where we have come from and where we are going has captured the imaginations of millions. Here he invites us to consider values, meaning, and personal engagement in a world full of noise and uncertainty. When we are deluged with irrelevant information, clarity is power. Presenting complex contemporary challenges clearly and accessibly, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is essential listening. Praise for 21 Lessons for the 21st Century : "If there were such a thing as a required instruction manual for politicians and thought leaders, Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari's 21 Lessons for the 21st Century would deserve serious consideration. In this collection of provocative essays, Harari...tackles a daunting array of issues, endeavoring to answer a persistent question: 'What is happening in the world today, and what is the deep meaning of these events?'" ( BookPage ) "A sobering and tough-minded perspective on bewildering new vistas." ( Booklist )
- Author: Yuval Noah Harari
- Genre: Politics & Social Sciences, Anthropology, Cultural
3. Outliers: The Story of Success
From the best-selling author of The Bomber Mafia , learn what sets high achievers apart - from Bill Gates to the Beatles - in this seminal work from "a singular talent" ( New York Times Book Review ). In this stunning audiobook, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers" - the best and the brightest, the most famous, and the most successful. He asks the question: What makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: That is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band. Brilliant and entertaining, Outliers is a landmark work that will simultaneously delight and illuminate.
- Author: Malcolm Gladwell
- Genre: Science & Math, Mathematics, Applied, Statistics
4. Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth’s Lost Civilization
Graham Hancock's multimillion best seller Fingerprints of the Gods remains an astonishing, deeply controversial, wide-ranging investigation of the mysteries of our past and the evidence for Earth's lost civilization. Twenty years on, Hancock returns with the sequel to his seminal work, filled with completely new scientific and archaeological evidence, which has only recently come to light.... Near the end of the last ice age, 12,800 years ago, a giant comet that had entered the solar system from deep space thousands of years earlier broke into multiple fragments. Some of these struck the Earth, causing a global cataclysm on a scale unseen since the extinction of the dinosaurs. At least eight of the fragments hit the North American ice cap while further fragments hit the Northern European ice cap. The impacts, from comet fragments a mile wide approaching at more than 60,000 miles an hour, generated huge amounts of heat that instantly liquidized millions of square kilometers of ice, destabilizing the Earth's crust and causing the global deluge that is remembered in myths all around the world. A second series of impacts, equally devastating, causing further cataclysmic flooding, occurred 11,600 years ago - the exact date that Plato gave for the destruction and submergence of Atlantis. The evidence revealed in this book shows beyond reasonable doubt that an advanced civilization that flourished during the Ice Age was destroyed in the global cataclysms between 12,800 and 11,600 years ago. But there were survivors - known to later cultures by names such as "the Sages", "the Magicians", "the Shining Ones", and "the Mystery Teachers of Heaven". They travelled the world in their great ships, doing all in their power to keep the spark of civilization burning. They settled at key locations - Gobekli Tepe in Turkey, Baalbek in the Lebanon, Giza in Egypt, ancient Sumer, Mexico, Peru, and across the Pacific, where a huge pyramid has recently been discovered in Indonesia. Everywhere they went these "Magicians of the Gods" brought with them the memory of a time when mankind had fallen out of harmony with the universe and paid a heavy price. A memory and a warning to the future...for the comet that wrought such destruction between 12,800 and 11,600 years ago may not be done with us yet. Astronomers believe that a 20-mile-wide "dark" fragment of the original giant comet remains hidden within its debris stream and threatens the Earth. An astronomical message encoded at Gobekli Tepe and in the Sphinx and the pyramids of Egypt warns that the "Great Return" will occur in our time....
- Author: Graham Hancock
- Genre: Arts & Photography, History & Criticism, History
5. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
The best-selling author of The Botany of Desire explores the ecology of eating to unveil why we consume what we consume in the 21st century. "What should we have for dinner?" To one degree or another, this simple question assails any creature faced with a wide choice of things to eat. Anthropologists call it the omnivore's dilemma. Choosing from among the countless potential foods nature offers, humans have had to learn what is safe, and what isn't, which mushrooms should be avoided, for example, and which berries we can enjoy. Today, as America confronts what can only be described as a national eating disorder, the omnivore's dilemma has returned with an atavistic vengeance. The cornucopia of the modern American supermarket and fast-food outlet has thrown us back on a bewildering landscape where we once again have to worry about which of those tasty-looking morsels might kill us. At the same time we're realizing that our food choices also have profound implications for the health of our environment. The Omnivore's Dilemma is best-selling author Michael Pollan's brilliant and eye-opening exploration of these little-known but vitally important dimensions of eating in America. We are indeed what we eat, and what we eat remakes the world. A society of voracious and increasingly confused omnivores, we are just beginning to recognize the profound consequences of the simplest everyday food choices, both for ourselves and for the natural world. The Omnivore's Dilemma is a long-overdue book and one that will become known for bringing a completely fresh perspective to a question as ordinary and yet momentous as "What shall we have for dinner?"
- Author: Michael Pollan
- Genre: Audible Books & Originals, Science & Engineering, Science, Nature & Ecology, Ecology
6. White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality. In this “vital, necessary, and beautiful book” (Michael Eric Dyson), antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people’ (Claudia Rankine). Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.
- Author: Robin DiAngelo
- Publisher: Beacon Press; Reprint edition (June 26, 2018)
- Genre: History, Americas
- ISBN: 978-0807047415
- Dimensions: 6 x 0.57 x 9 inches
7. Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging
We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding - "tribes". This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern society, but regaining it may be the key to our psychological survival. Decades before the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin lamented that English settlers were constantly fleeing over to the Indians - but Indians almost never did the same. Tribal society has been exerting an almost gravitational pull on Westerners for hundreds of years, and the reason lies deep in our evolutionary past as a communal species. The most recent example of that attraction is combat veterans who come home to find themselves missing the incredibly intimate bonds of platoon life. The loss of closeness that comes at the end of deployment may explain the high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by military veterans today. Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, Tribe explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that - for many veterans as well as civilians - war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. Tribe explains why we are stronger when we come together and how that can be achieved even in today's divided world.
- Author: Sebastian Junger
- Genre: History, Military, United States, Veterans
8. The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • One of today’s most insightful and influential thinkers offers a powerful exploration of inequality and the lesson that generations of Americans have failed to learn: Racism has a cost for everyone—not just for people of color. “This is the book I’ve been waiting for.”—Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist Heather McGhee’s specialty is the American economy—and the mystery of why it so often fails the American public. From the financial crisis to rising student debt to collapsing public infrastructure, she found a common root problem: racism. But not just in the most obvious indignities for people of color. Racism has costs for white people, too. It is the common denominator of our most vexing public problems, the core dysfunction of our democracy and constitutive of the spiritual and moral crises that grip us all. But how did this happen? And is there a way out? McGhee embarks on a deeply personal journey across the country from Maine to Mississippi to California, tallying what we lose when we buy into the zero-sum paradigm—the idea that progress for some of us must come at the expense of others. Along the way, she meets white people who confide in her about losing their homes, their dreams, and their shot at better jobs to the toxic mix of American racism and greed. This is the story of how public goods in this country—from parks and pools to functioning schools—have become private luxuries; of how unions collapsed, wages stagnated, and inequality increased; and of how this country, unique among the world’s advanced economies, has thwarted universal healthcare. But in unlikely places of worship and work, McGhee finds proof of what she calls the Solidarity Dividend: gains that come when people come together across race, to accomplish what we simply can’t do on our own. The Sum of Us is a brilliant analysis of how we arrived here: divided and self-destructing, materially rich but spiritually starved and vastly unequal. McGhee marshals economic and sociological research to paint an irrefutable story of racism’s costs, but at the heart of the book are the humble stories of people yearning to be part of a better America, including white supremacy’s collateral victims: white people themselves. With startling empathy, this heartfelt message from a Black woman to a multiracial America leaves us with a new vision for a future in which we finally realize that life can be more than a zero-sum game.
- Author: Heather McGhee
- Publisher: One World (February 16, 2021)
- Genre: History, Americas
- ISBN: 978-0525509561
- Dimensions: 6.42 x 1.35 x 9.55 inches
9. The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure
A timely investigation into the new "safety culture" on campus and the dangers it poses to free speech, mental health, education, and ultimately democracy The generation now coming of age has been taught three Great Untruths: their feelings are always right; they should avoid pain and discomfort; and they should look for faults in others and not themselves. These three Great Untruths are part of a larger philosophy that sees young people as fragile creatures who must be protected and supervised by adults. But despite the good intentions of the adults who impart them, the Great Untruths are harming kids by teaching them the opposite of ancient wisdom and the opposite of modern psychological findings on grit, growth, and antifragility. The result is rising rates of depression and anxiety, along with endless stories of college campuses torn apart by moralistic divisions and mutual recriminations. This is a book about how we got here. First Amendment expert Greg Lukianoff and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt take us on a tour of the social trends stretching back to the 1980s that have produced the confusion and conflict on campus today, including the loss of unsupervised play time and the birth of social media, all during a time of rising political polarization. This is a book about how to fix the mess. The culture of “safety” and its intolerance of opposing viewpoints has left many young people anxious and unprepared for adult life, with devastating consequences for them, for their parents, for the companies that will soon hire them, and for a democracy that is already pushed to the brink of violence over its growing political divisions. Lukianoff and Haidt offer a comprehensive set of reforms that will strengthen young people and institutions, allowing us all to reap the benefits of diversity, including viewpoint diversity. This is a book for anyone who is confused by what’s happening on college campuses today, or has children, or is concerned about the growing inability of Americans to live and work and cooperate across party lines.
- Author: Jonathan Haidt
- Genre: Audible Books & Originals, Health & Wellness, Psychology & Mental Health, Psychology, Social Psychology & Interactions
10. Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies
Pulitzer Prize, General Nonfiction, 1998 Guns, Germs and Steel examines the rise of civilization and the issues its development has raised throughout history. Having done field work in New Guinea for more than 30 years, Jared Diamond presents the geographical and ecological factors that have shaped the modern world. From the viewpoint of an evolutionary biologist, he highlights the broadest movements both literal and conceptual on every continent since the Ice Age, and examines societal advances such as writing, religion, government, and technology. Diamond also dissects racial theories of global history, and the resulting work— Guns, Germs and Steel —is a major contribution to our understanding the evolution of human societies.
- Author: Jared Diamond
- Genre: Audible Books & Originals, Science & Engineering, Science, Biological Sciences, Evolution & Genetics, Evolution