The best books to understand humanity and the universe

Mahmoud Elsayed Author Of The Bitter Truth of Reality: The route to skepticism and the case against objective reality
By Mahmoud Elsayed

Who am I?

Mahmoud Elsayed has always been interested in finding rational answers to the big existential questions. This could clearly be noticed in his writings and philosophy. He has also worked in various and somehow diverse fields of engineering and science which allowed him to smoothly, flexibly, and knowledgeably jump from a field of expertise to another in order to make his philosophical arguments comprehensive. 

I wrote...

The Bitter Truth of Reality: The route to skepticism and the case against objective reality

By Mahmoud Elsayed,

Book cover of The Bitter Truth of Reality: The route to skepticism and the case against objective reality

What is my book about?

Reality is the one word that describes everything we live in, everything we know, knew, and will. It represents time, space, and all the other possible dimensions. But what exactly is reality? In his book, The Bitter Truth of Reality, author Mahmoud Elsayed attempts to answer this complex query by taking a journey through physics, biology, human anatomy, history, philosophy, and even religions. Hopefully, by the end of this book, the reader will find an answer to this question that sits at the top of the existential questions list.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Why did I love this book?

When reading about history, we often get lost in the fine details of the historical events, and in doing so we lose the sense of realizing the bigger picture and the common trends which are by far the best indicators of where our civilization is moving toward. They are also the key to having an intuitive understanding of our social and collective nature. Yuval Noah Harari does this perfectly by using a coherent, well-connected, and simple presentation of humankind’s history.

By Yuval Noah Harari,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Sapiens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?

In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the…

Book cover of Why the World Doesn't Seem to Make Sense: An Inquiry Into Science, Philosophy and Perception

Why did I love this book?

Our daily routine and the full of distractions life of the 21st-century human often draft us away and divert us from the fact that we live in a completely weird and bizarre reality. Steve Hagan digs deeper into this concept and presents amusing and mind-blowing notions about our perception and the things that we made out of it (philosophy and science). 

By Steve Hagen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why the World Doesn't Seem to Make Sense as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling author of Buddhism Plain and Simple ponders what we truly know about reality.
Why the World Doesn’t Seem to Make Sense is an eminently down-to-earth, practical, and non-technical response to the urgent questions posed by contemporary science and philosophy. This revised and updated edition of How the World Can Be the Way It Is includes new scientific understanding and clarification of some of its more complex ideas. Steve Hagen aims for an intelligent general audience not necessarily familiar with modern or classical physics, philosophy, or formal logic.
Hagen takes us on a journey that examines our most basic…

Sophie's World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy

By Jostein Gaarder, Paulette Møller (translator),

Book cover of Sophie's World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy

Why did I love this book?

In this masterpiece, Jostein Gaarder presents the whole history of philosophy in the form of a novel. This is by far the most interesting historical presentation of philosophy I have ever come across. The genius of Jostein Gaarder could be clearly seen in the narrative as he does not just explain the ideologies of the philosophers across the decades, but also picks some ideas, visualize them, and smoothly integrate them into the story. 

By Jostein Gaarder, Paulette Møller (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Sophie's World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The international bestseller about life, the universe and everything.

When 14-year-old Sophie encounters a mysterious mentor who introduces her to philosophy, mysteries deepen in her own life. Why does she keep getting postcards addressed to another girl? Who is the other girl? And who, for that matter, is Sophie herself? To solve the riddle, she uses her new knowledge of philosophy, but the truth is far stranger than she could have imagined.

An addictive blend of mystery, philosophy and fantasy, Sophie's World is an international phenomenon which has been translated into 60 languages and sold more than 40 million copies.

God: A Human History

By Reza Aslan,

Book cover of God: A Human History

Why did I love this book?

Whether you are religious or not, whether you like it or not, religions and God/Gods have been a part of the human civilizations as far as we started documenting, writing, and recording history and perhaps even as far as we existed. To understand the part that religion played in our history and how it had and still could have a significant effect on how we perceive the world and reality in general, it may be crucial to understand the history of religions and how they originated. Raza Aslan gives a wonderful presentation on that in this book. 

By Reza Aslan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


"Timely, riveting, enlightening and necessary." (Huffington Post)

In God, Reza Aslan sheds new light on mankind's relationship with the divine and challenges our perspective on faith and the birth of religion.

From the origins of spiritual thought to the concept of an active, engaged, divine presence that underlies all creation, Aslan examines how the idea of god arose in human evolution, was gradually personalized, endowed with human traits and emotions, and eventually transformed into a single Divine Personality: the God known today by such names as Yahweh, Father, and Allah.

Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, God…

Book cover of The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory

Why did I love this book?

Theoretical physics, though might be the best way to explain and investigate our physical reality, could be very complicated to the extent that it became a synonym incomprehensible to some. In this book, Brian Greene explains the most complicated concepts in physics in an elegantly simple way that allows a 12-year-old kid to understand them perfectly well. 

By Brian Greene,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Elegant Universe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brian Greene, one of the world's leading string theorists, peels away layers of mystery to reveal a universe that consists of eleven dimensions, where the fabric of space tears and repairs itself, and all matter-from the smallest quarks to the most gargantuan supernovas-is generated by the vibrations of microscopically tiny loops of energy. The Elegant Universe makes some of the most sophisticated concepts ever contemplated accessible and thoroughly entertaining, bringing us closer than ever to understanding how the universe works.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in philosophy, evolution, and perception?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about philosophy, evolution, and perception.

Philosophy Explore 1,307 books about philosophy
Evolution Explore 109 books about evolution
Perception Explore 22 books about perception

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