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  • Writer's picturePrayukth K V

Read of the Week - Transcendence: How Humans Evolved through Fire, Language, Beauty, and Time

Book by Gaia Vince

Transcendence: How Humans Evolved through Fire, Language, Beauty, and Time is good in parts and leaves a wonderful message behind with the reader towards the end.

Those of us who are interested in understanding how we evolved and became the species that we are today from a cultural and biological standpoint will find this book interesting.

The book does leave you with many thoughts to ponder; though I have only given the most powerful reasons to read this book in this post, there are many aspects that you have to read to understand.

Five reasons why you should read Transcendence: How Humans Evolved through Fire, Language, Beauty, and Time

  1. The last paragraph leaves the reader with a sense of wonder and responsibility. The book is worth reading just for that alone (Don’t go to the para right away or you will not be able to contextualize the narrative)

  2. Gaia brings out some subtle yet memorable chapters in our evolution as a species (culturally and biologically). There is a reference to the aborigines of Tasmania and the ancient inhabitants of Easter Island. Both the references are drawn to enable the reader to understand the connection between losing culturally acquired survival tactics in the case of the former and the loss of a sense of inherent ecological protection in the latter. Both these stories are exceptionally powerful

  3. She is able to bring out some exceptional details of our cultural evolution with clarity and finesse. Though the narrative does go off the rails at a few points but that could be because Gaia wants us to imbibe the details so that these points could reach a wider audience through readers and their conversations

  4. Gaia explains how we have been lucky as a species to have been at the right place at the right time. Maybe if the Neanderthals had lived long enough, then they could have also gone on to do the things we did

  5. She has brought out many examples of cultural factors influencing the biology of our species from an evolutionary perspective


What to watch out for

  • This book picks momentum in the middle so don’t give up after the first few chapters

  • Gaia explains the reason why some cultures perished and others survived with a unique explanation

  • The book is rich in examples at every juncture so it's easy to relate to the content


Recommended by MyBookWorks?

Yes, for those who are interested in science, evolutionary biology, the evolution of culture and societal systems, etc.


Book Review by: Prayukth K V, Co-Founder MyBookWorks

A published author and speaker, Prayukth is passionate about books and their potential to transform minds.

He is a niche tech marketer by profession and lives to read and travel among other things.

Connect with Prayukth on LinkedIn and Twitter


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