Summer holiday is always a good opportunity to catch up on some reading. Indeed, I read a few good books during summer months, but there were two exceptional ones that really resonated with me. I would like to share them with you.
Olga Tokarczuk’s “Bieguni” (“Flights”)
“Bieguni” is not really a new book. Published first in 2007 and awarded with the Nike Award in 2008 was recently brought back into spotlight. Translated to English, it was awarded in 2018 with the Booker Prize, a literary prize awarded each year for the best original novel written in the English language and published in the UK. I read the Polish original, but many critiques and reviewers say that the translation is similarly exceptional.
“Bieguni” (“Flights”) takes you on a journey along with mystery travelers. The book is named (the original title) after a fictional sect of Slavic nomads who endlessly wander the planet. It tells stories about people from different times and places. The theme is travel, and the only constant here is continuous movement from place to place. Sometimes to unexpected spots far away from the beaten tracks, to dark corners of human soul, right next to twisted secrets of human existence. It is a captivating novel with distinct philosophical flair.
The stories are enchanting and intense. The characters are unique and special, driven by strange desires and hidden motivations are looking for answers in different times and places.
Those who spent their time at various airports will quickly identify and feel belonging to the constantly moving anonymous passing crowd. And right then, just after takeoff, the novel will grab and take you to some time and far away place to just to unfold yet another narrative. A must read.
Yuval Noah Harari’s “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow”
Compared to the above mentioned book, this one belongs to completely different category. After several days of dreamy spiritual journeys, “Homo Deus” was a return to the world of science, knowledge, and reason. A sequel to Harari’s global bestseller “Sapiens” is in many ways worthy continuation to the awarded predecessor.
Chances are that you know other Harari’s masterpiece “Sapiens”. The book unveils the story of evolution and complicated history of humanity. “Homo Deus” takes the discussion even further. Using philosophy, history, sociology, in combination with the latest technological advances, Harari looks for the answer what might happen to us in the future. This is a challenging task because according to the author in the 21st century might bring the most profound change in the history – we might finally evolve beyond limitation of our minds and bodies. Will we achieve eternal life? Or rather, who will belong to the privileged cast of immortals? Undoubtedly our societies will change, religions will have to adapt to the new situation. Will the emerge of AI change everything? Those are only a few of many interesting problems discussed in this brilliant educating book.
And one final recommendation. My wife, who also finished this book few weeks ago, said that reading it was like spending an enjoyable evening with a wise friend who makes sure that you have great time and makes you feel smarter. I think this is the best summary of “Homo Deus”. Get a copy, make a tea, and find yourself.