Sapiens - Yuval Noah Harari
This book granted me two superpowers.
First, I can pretend to be a historian in front of my friends and family, explaining to them the omitted pitfalls of the agricultural revolution, the isolated evolution of the Australian ecosystem and definitive benefits of the scientific revolution. They roll their eyes, but I feel smart anyway.
In all seriousness, the book gave me a periscope to world history from the confines of my living room. Every few pages contained an 'I had no idea!' moment, which made it a thrill to read.
Second, it encouraged me to be critical. Specifically, questioning my habits and customs in the context of human evolution. For example, the book states that since humans have been hunters and gatherers for a far longer period than any other role, many aspects of our biology remain conditioned to a hunting and gathering lifestyle. Since H&Gs were forced, by circumstance, to eat a wide variety of foods, our bodies are used to it and we should keep eating by variety.
The book views human norms as an inherent contradiction, where values are forever subject to utility and incentives. The tension between equality and freedom, war and peace are scrutinised as such.
The tectonic plates of history are moving at a frantic pace, but the volcanoes are mostly silent.