Work: A Deep History, from the Stone Age to the Age of Robots (Paperback)

Work: A Deep History, from the Stone Age to the Age of Robots By James Suzman Cover Image
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Description


"This book is a tour de force." --Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take

A revolutionary new history of humankind through the prism of work by leading anthropologist James Suzman


Work defines who we are. It determines our status, and dictates how, where, and with whom we spend most of our time. It mediates our self-worth and molds our values. But are we hard-wired to work as hard as we do? Did our Stone Age ancestors also live to work and work to live? And what might a world where work plays a far less important role look like?

To answer these questions, James Suzman charts a grand history of "work" from the origins of life on Earth to our ever more automated present, challenging some of our deepest assumptions about who we are. Drawing insights from anthropology, archaeology, evolutionary biology, zoology, physics, and economics, he shows that while we have evolved to find joy, meaning and purpose in work, for most of human history our ancestors worked far less and thought very differently about work than we do now. He demonstrates how our contemporary culture of work has its roots in the agricultural revolution ten thousand years ago. Our sense of what it is to be human was transformed by the transition from foraging to food production, and, later, our migration to cities. Since then, our relationships with one another and with our environments, and even our sense of the passage of time, have not been the same.  

Arguing that we are in the midst of a similarly transformative point in history, Suzman shows how automation might revolutionize our relationship with work and in doing so usher in a more sustainable and equitable future for our world and ourselves.

About the Author


James Suzman, Ph.D., is an anthropologist specializing in the Khoisan peoples of southern Africa. A recipient of the Smuts Commonwealth Fellowship in African Studies at Cambridge University, he is now the director of Anthropos Ltd., a think tank that applies anthropological methods to solving contemporary social and economic problems. He lives in Cambridge, England.

Praise For…


“Magisterial.” The Nation

“His book meticulously charts the evolution of labour over 300,000 years, a strategy that brings welcome perspective to our current economic woes. While ostensibly a science book, it is also a devastating critique of consumer capitalism and a kind of self-help guide, underlying just how abnormal our lives are by our ancestors’ standards.” The Irish Times

“A fascinating exploration that challenges our basic assumptions on what work means. As automation threatens to completely disrupt the global job market, it is urgent to rethink the economic, psychological and even spiritual importance of work. By examining the lives of hunter-gatherers, apes and even birds, Suzman highlights that what we consider ‘natural’ is often just the questionable legacy of industrial gurus and agricultural religions. Knowing the history of how we have spent our time in the past will hopefully enable us to make more sensible choices in the future.” —Yuval Noah Harari, New York Times bestselling author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

“Here is one of those few books that will turn your customary ways of thinking upside down. An incisive and original new history that invites us to rethink our relationship with work—and to reimagine what it means to be human in an ever-more automated future.” —Susan Cain, New York Times bestselling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

“Deeply researched, broad in scope and filled with insight, this is a modern classic. Every page brings something worth thinking hard about.” —Seth Godin, New York Times bestselling author of This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See

“Ingenious . . . All living organisms expend energy (i.e., work), but humans have transformed this with spectacular creativity that began with stone tools and led to cities, nations, and networks of energy-hungry machines. Anthropologists specialize in describing this process, and Suzman delivers a delightful account of their findings without ignoring the occasions when colleagues missed the boat . . . A fascinating history of humankind as a consumer of energy.” Kirkus (starred review)

“For too long, our notions of work have been dominated by economists obsessed with scarcity and productivity. As an anthropologist, James Suzman is here to change that. He reveals that for much of human history, hunter-gatherers worked far less than we do today and led lives of abundance and leisure. I’ve been studying work for two decades, and I can’t remember the last time I learned so much about it in one sitting. This book is a tour de force.” —Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take and Originals, and host of the TED podcast WorkLife
 
“Automation of all kinds looms on the horizon. Luckily, James Suzman is here with a revelatory new history that makes a persuasive case: That human industry can light a path forward, even in a future where we’re put out of work by our own inventions.” —Charles Duhigg, New York Times bestselling author of The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better
Product Details
ISBN: 9780525561774
ISBN-10: 0525561773
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: January 18th, 2022
Pages: 464
Language: English

How to read more

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( Birmingham Museums Trust’s Digital Image Resource shares thousands of images that span decades of Birminghams vibrant past)

How To Read More

If you love reading, but for some reason you read less and less, know that everything is fine. It happens.
Our lives today have so many things that distract us - how can we not put books away when all these movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, social networks and endless surfing in online stores are around ...
Yes, it's really hard to resist, but you certainly can!

In this article, we want to share with you some tips to read more often and more successfully.
These are some notes and some practices that we have collected for our SUNDOG BOOKS readers club.
And maybe it will bring more books into your life!

Why do we want/need to read more?

To start reading more, you have to understand why you need it.
And you will be surprised, but your goals can be quite varied:

- for work
If you read a lot on duty, then you definitely need to speed up the process. The logic here is simple: read faster → work faster → more time for books for yourself.

- for education
you need this for your educational career or sometimes you just want to read to learn. And, with all the new alternative ways to gain knowledge (podcasts, online courses and videos), the book still does an excellent job of this task too.

- for self-development
all exercises for increasing speed, one way or another, improve cognition and memory.

- for fun
because good books always = fun!

Book lovers have an additional special goal for reading more often. If you love literature, you will understand what we mean: you want to catch everything - to follow modern literature, and not forget about the classics, look into non-fiction and children's publications. And there’s so much you want to reread! The goals are ambitious, but attainable if you read a lot.

 

And so - How to read more:
We will tell you about the methods that we use ourselves. Perhaps some will suit you as well.

 

15 minutes a day

You've probably already heard this rule: if you want to start a healthy habit, devote 15 minutes a day to it. Once upon a time, we all read irregularly, in jumps and starts. Sometimes we cannot open a book we have begun weeks ago. Therefore, you should decide to create a rule: devote at least 15 minutes a day to reading. Try reading before bed, or maybe during lunchtime, or even when you are having your morning coffee.

You will see progress immediately. You will notice that almost always your 15 minutes will grow into half an hour or more. But the most remarkable thing is that in three weeks your hands themselves will be looking for a book.

 

50 First Pages
This method advises - If the book hasn't hooked you from the first 50 pages, put it aside! Life is too short to read uninteresting books.

It is necessary to change the approach to books. At first it will be hard for you to stop and put the book down. Even if we put the book away, it will seem to reproach us from the shelf, mocking us as quitters. But in the end we should come to one simple thought: if it doesn’t hook your attention, you should not force yourself to read it.

***Fifty pages is not a bad test. Not the most objective, but definitely effective. It helps to determine whether it interests you or not, and whether to spend time on things that do not excite.

 

Reader's Diary

This should be used to improve the quality of reading - to make it more conscious. For starters, it can be a simple notebook with headings:

  • Author
  • Year of publication
  • Main characters
  • Scene
  • Plot
  • Theme
  • Quotes

And, yes, a reader's diary is not a thing about quantity, but about quality. But, it can also motivate. When you open your diary and start looking at quotes (especially quotes), you immediately really want to read.

 

Maybe a Book Bet?
Several people can participate. Members of the betting group can come from friends, family, and also your colleagues. And of course you can set your own rules for participation, but we'll give you a simple example:

Everyone in the group should read and review a book over the course of a month with weekly updates. Anyone who does not finish a review buys the book for all other participants for the next month.

 

Speed Reading

Another effective way to increase the amount you read is speed reading. The logic here is simple - the faster you read, the more books you can enjoy.

*There are many online courses on speed reading, and you can also study on your own using instructional books. But, it is worth noting that this is a serious learning process that will require some effort on your part.

 

Outcome

Reading every day is quite attainable, the main thing is to try to make it a habit.
Sometimes, instead of heading for Facebook, try opening a book and soon you won’t even remember why you needed to wander around social media.
And also - don't forget about audiobooks. They are a cool way to take the load off your eyes sometimes and just immerse yourself in the story. Some books are really strong in voice acting.

 
 
 

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