The Israeli historian and professor of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is not known for his politeness. He tells it like it is without sensationalizing—“As far as we can tell from a purely scientific viewpoint, human life has no meaning” is a classic, as is the oh-so-casual “Homo sapiens as we know them will probably disappear within a century or so”—which is, perhaps, part of the appeal of his highly readable histories of past and future, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2014), Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (2016), and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (2018). In time for the holidays, Harper Perennial is out with Sapiens: A Graphic History—The Birth of Humankind, the initial volume in a graphic adaptation of Harari’s 2014 book. Here, Harari recommends his favorite books on the subject of humanity’s place in the world, and its relationship with other animals.

Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves, by Frans de Waal

This book explores the emotional and social lives of animals. There is plenty of comedy, tragedy, politics, and ethics in its pages, but the heroes and villains are all animals. Reading this book will likely change your view not just of our furrier cousins, but also of human beings and their place in the great chain of being.