Read-Along Announcement: Humankind by Rutger Bregman
Happy Wednesday! In lieu of my usual Wordy Wednesday post I’m announcing the start of a new read-along for the book Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman.
How does a read-along work? Individuals read a book and discuss it using an online platform. It‘s like a book club that just so happens to follow the rules of social distancing. Rather than meeting in person at a set place and time to talk about the book, you access and contribute to the discussion via your phone or computer. Plus, in this particular read-along, you participate according to your own schedule. No need to brush your hair and find a quiet corner of the house to videochat with your fellow bibliophiles! You simply read and think and write and share, whenever and wherever works for you.
Here is a brief synopsis of the read-along book selection. In Humankind: A Hopeful History, author Rutger Bregman argues that over the course of human history and prehistory, altruism and cooperation are what led to our species’ success. This position contrasts the assumption, one I know to be held at the core of Christian theology, that human nature at its essence is bad. Whether religious or not, the belief that we are all born selfish and sinful persists across cultures and political ideologies. Bregman challenges that belief, taking an optimistic view of humanity.
This is one book that I need right now. Given the political moment our country is experiencing, protesting police brutality on top of fighting coronavirus, this isn’t the only book I need. I must listen to Black voices and educate myself by reading books written by BIPOC authors. At the same time, I want comfort-reads that lift my spirit and help pass the seemingly endless time spent at home. A book like Humankind serves to educate and to comfort by offering knowledge about the goodness of humans. We need hope, and we need evidence to support a sense of hope. Enter Humankind.
The Humankind read-along is being run by the Tandem Collective (@tandemcollectiveuk) on Instagram using the hashtag #humankindreadalong. Bookstagrammer Stacy Jayne Williamson (@stacys_book_nook) kindly sent me the discussion questions. I will be hosting an extension of the read-along here on the blog.
To purchase a copy of the book, I suggest using the website IndieBound to identify an independent bookstore local to you from which you can order online. Next, be sure to subscribe to Babble of the Books, and you’ll receive an email whenever a new discussion post is ready. You can share your responses to the discussion questions in the comments section, which is where the true value of the read-along lies.
Once you have a copy of the book, read the prologue and consider the first discussion question:
In the prologue, Bregman cites Le Bon’s observation of how people respond in a crisis: “man descends several rungs in the ladder of civilization.” Evidence in fact shows that crisis brings out “not the worst, but the best in people.”
On starting this book, which camp do you fall into? Can you think of any examples from the current crises we find ourselves in that support either of these viewpoints?
In my next Humankind post I’ll share my response to that question. At the end of each post, I’ll also share a preview of the next discussion question. But what I’m really excited for is to read your responses, and I hope that we will interact and grow and make the most of reading Humankind together.
My goal is to begin on Monday June 8th and continue Humankind posts every Monday and Friday until the final post on Friday July 10th. The comments section will be open long after, so whenever you get your copy of Humankind, feel free to join in the babble!
DISCLAIMER: I want you to know that I’m not part of a promotional team for this book, and I’m not benefiting financially from this read-along. I’m motivated by the joy of reading, writing, and connecting with you over a common book. Plus, the read-along fits perfectly with the aim of Babble of the Books to be a bright and cozy place to talk reading.