Daniel Kahneman and Yuval Noah Harari are two of the great thinkers alive and also among the people I like to follow.
I had read Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow partly. I had really liked it, however it is not an easy read. It is in small type font and very verbose. The same book, later, was part of our MBA reading and I got the book as part of the course material. I, then, read few more pages – maybe 70-80%, but still haven’t finished it.
I discovered Yuval Noah Harari few years back through his interviews and speeches. I think I might have blogged about that. His style of narration and the core ideas are very interesting! Again, I got his best selling book Sapiens as birthday gift last year and I have managed to read it partly (maybe 30-40%). That book too is not an easy read – small font, verbose and think! It’s much easier to hear him talk and get the gist of his ideas.
I have this observation and theory about non-native English speakers/writers – 4 specific names that come to my mind are: Ayn Rand, Daniel Kahneman, Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Yuval Noah Harari – that their books are not easy to read; they are verbose, full of pages and may not have the literary flair because of their lack of command over English language. Check Atlas Shrugged or Fooled by Randomness or “Thinking Fast and Slow” or Sapiens and you would agree with me.
Compare this with the writings of P G Wodehouse or Richard Dawkins or Agatha Christie or Earnst Hemingway or George Orwell or any other English writers. They are far different than the above four in terms of the ability to write succinct and powerful prose.
However, the above 4 non-English writers are equally popular, if not more, because of the power of their ideas!
Language is a means of communication. And it is better to have command over the medium of communication. However just having the mastery over medium and not having good ideas is hollow. I have never liked any literature just for the flair of the language. There are quite a few such writers in my native language Marathi and they are considered legends. I absolutely detest them. Because they have no substance. What’s considered stylish today would be considered average or even garbage few years or decades later. So what stands out and endures is the core idea and substance.
Anyways, here is a video of Kahneman and Harari together in a conversation, I think for the first time. If you find their books heavy always watch such interactions to understand their core ideas.