Disclaimer: I do NOT know Chris Evans. All the information is taken from various tweets and interviews and could potentially be outdated.
Welcome to the second installment of this very special feature! For those of you who missed the first one or don’t really know what’s going on, I’d recommend heading over to Are Tom Hiddleston and I compatible readers? I put a lot of work and passion into that post as well as this series as a whole, hoping it will bring you as much joy as it did to take part in it for me. You’ll definitely be able to see an explanation of the reading experiment at the beginning of the last feature, but in short, I read celebrities favorite books and determine if we would be a good match. All of that in good fun, obviously!
If you asked me what the first thing starring Chris Evans was that I remember watching, I would have a hard time coming up with an answer. I think for many people he will forever be Steve Rogers/Captain America, but I definitely know a couple movies and shows he was in that had nothing to do with Marvel whatsoever.
He has a reputation for being a very grounded guy, who is passionate about his family and friends, his dog Dodger, sports and politics (check out his project A Starting Point, a platform to promote engagement and the distribution of factual political information from elected officials and experts) and I feel like that is part of what makes him so endearing. He just seems to genuinely care. All of this is mirrored in his favorite books to some extent, or at least it feels like it from the glimpse I got so far. Unlike many others, his list of reading material is laced with a lot of non-fiction in the areas of politics, self-improvement, spirituality and even a little bit of history on all matter of things.
When I’m lucky, I find a long list of books associated with the person I’m trying to do this little bookish matchmaking experiment with and there were definitely several options when it came to Chris Evans. I liked knowing that there would be some non-fiction in the mix, because I don’t gravitate towards those books necessarily. However, I didn’t want it to be just that and tried to create a nice balance with other findings. Last time, I purposely only picked new-to-me-material, but we’ll actually have a reread in this post. More about that later, though! After some back and forth on how I would narrow it down, here are the books I settled on:
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
- Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
- God Pharm by Garrett Roper/Bennett Smith
- No Death, No Fear by Thich Nhat Hanh
Honestly, I’m going into this pretty open-minded! I already know for a fact that I’m going to love one book, because I read it before and enjoyed it. Maybe that’s something that’s putting me at ease? Either way, none of the things I saw on the list seemed overly long and a few had excellent reviews from friends and fellow bloggers – all of which has me quite optimistic.
I still remember how much trepidation was involved with Hiddleston’s list, but I’m actually excited to start reading and sharing my thoughts on all the material with you. Let’s go and do this!!
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
Few books, especially non-fiction books, come with as high a recommendation as this one. I still remember my brief stint at an airport bookstore around the time Sapiens became widely popular and we always made sure to have it stocked. I’m glad this reading experiment enabled me to finally pick it up myself!
I’m halfway through what might be the best book I’ve ever read. Sometimes when I’m reading non-fiction I like to take notes. I’ve basically copied this entire book into my notepad. Every single page is eye-opening. It’s called Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. Read it! It’s fantastic.Chris Evans via Twitter in 2018
I’ve said it before and I’ll definitely say it in the future, the book Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari is truly mind-blowing. It’s changed the way I look at almost everything. I can’t endorse it enough.Chris Evans via Twitter in 2019
Sapiens was such an interesting experience for me. I don’t often pick up non-fiction books, just because I find they require more attention. I love to fly through my reading material, but you can’t really do that with fact-based reads, because otherwise you won’t retain any information. Hence, this took me much longer than I’d usually like to spend on just one book, but at the same time, I really loved how it challenged my view on our history and evolution.
I find it impossible to review non-fiction books, because I’m no expert in the field the author is talking about. They can tell me anything about revolutions, socio-political movements, the dawn of religions as well as scientific discoveries and I will simply nod my head and go with it. I sort of have to believe whatever the person is relaying and I especially felt a subjective perspective from Harari in this one. It’s not necessarily something bad to have the author’s bias included, just something to be aware of.
Even though I felt Sapiens was losing a bit of steam in the later chapters, I thoroughly enjoyed its critical view on our history and the straight-forward logic applied in the style of writing. It’s a very dense book that covers a lot of ground, but focuses on some aspects more than others. Sometimes it made me feel like we, as a species, truly were an epic evolutionary mistake, but I also came out of it with so much more knowledge than before and a definite curiosity for the marvels (and horrors) we might still have ahead of us. I can 100% understand where the fascination for Sapiens comes from.
Click here for more information on Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind on Goodreads
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
As I mentioned earlier, one of the books in this post is a reread for me, and that reread is Siddhartha! Much like Chris Evans (so weird to say that), I read this book when I was in school and couldn’t put it down either. It was an assigned read, which was very often more miss than hit with me during my educational years, but I really enjoyed this one. I don’t quite know how to put into words why I felt drawn to it, but something about the circle of life and the pursuit of knowledge and spiritual freedom spoke to me.
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. And it’s still my favorite book today. I read it for the first time in high school and up until that point, I had never read a book in one sitting. I just couldn’t put it down. No other book has made such an impact.Chris Evans during his LEO interview, when asked about his favorite book growing up.
I doubt that Chris Evans read Siddhartha in its original language (German) like I did, so I cannot speak to the translation. However, I noticed that I struggled with the writing a little more than the first time around. It has been so long since I read anything in German and I just really don’t like it that much anymore. The sentences feel more convoluted and unnecessarily long and complex, but the story still shone through. Something about it simply puts you at ease about your life choices and makes you feel like every step you took, taught you something and put you one step closer to enlightenment. Almost like every experience is a gift, no matter the outcome, because you learn from it and every person you meet is a potential teacher.
What I would like to point out about this book is that I enjoy it because of its narrative and not the portrayal of Buddhism, which is very inaccurate. Hermann Hesse, as open as he might have been to different world views and theologies, was not a Buddhist and neither did he have any authentic experiences with it. The book was first published in 1922 and is a very Western view on the topic. I just wouldn’t want anyone to go into this book thinking it will be an exact portrayal.
Click here for more information on Siddhartha on Goodreads.
God Pharm by Garrett Roper/Bennett Smith
I would take this book being on the list of favorites with a grain of salt. Why, you may ask? Well, I really wanted to try and include something modern from the fiction shelf, so I latched on to the following tweet:
If you like fast-paced thrillers check out my good buddy Bennett Smith’s new book God Pharm!Chris Evans via Twitter in 2016
Do we know if he actually read it? No. Do we know if he just wanted to help out his friend or truly enjoyed the book? Also, no. I’m not trying to claim that this was a marketing ruse to help out a buddy, but I’d just like to point out that I truly do not know. Now, moving forward, let’s talk about God Pharm.
This book tried to be a lot of things and it tried a little too hard for my taste. God Pharm is about artificial Gods, the God Gene, religious fanatics, but also just plain corrupt governments and the greed of big pharma. However, even though I’d like to think I possess a basic understanding of computer programming, biology and chemistry, the style of writing was extremely scientific, often feeling like it was made intentionally high-brow, while actually just being a religious Limitless with a lot more hacking involved.
God Pharm started out very disjointed, with a huge cast of characters all over the globe. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that it will take the majority of the book to make the puzzle pieces fit together, but I always look forward to the moment when all players meet. Somehow, I wasn’t very surprised by the actual connections between the individuals we follow around though. I also just plain didn’t like any of the characters, which is never fun. I was desperately trying to connect to at least one of them, but simply couldn’t. Now, I don’t really know how to put this, but … while reading, I was acutely aware that this book was written by two men. Out of the seven or eight regular POVs we followed, only one of them was the voice of a woman. Nevermind, that every female character that did actually show up was either a junkie or highly sexualized. This isn’t even something I’d usually notice right away, but it was rubbing me the wrong way here.
I will grant them that they incorporated some interesting twists here and there. The pace was generally kept fast and moved along quickly through the use of a lot of dialogue (which I personally like) and action scenes, but I was confused by some storytelling choices.
But, ultimately, as much as I wanted the story to make sense, I wasn’t very satisfied by the outcome of it all. None of it seemed as important as they made it out to be, nothing was really done. In the end, I’ve decided to not hold the mediocrity of the book against Chris Evans.
Click here for more information on God Pharm on Goodreads.
No Death, No Fear by Thich Nhat Hanh
One of my many, many character flaws is that I’m terrible at letting things go. I think it might have to do with me not being great at handling grief and departure in general, so, that might have been the reason I was particularly drawn to this book when I spotted it on the list. I don’t think I can change my entire way of coping with certain problems, but after reading No Death, No Fear, I can clearly see how I can find solace in the lessons of this book.
“No Death, No Fear is a beautiful book that has helped me in countless ways.”Chris Evans via Twitter in 2014
Based on the foundations of Buddhism, Thich Nhat Hanh takes us along on a journey of our inherent human fears and struggles and why we should let them go. I’m no Buddhist and I have a complicated relationship with faith in general, but I never felt like that hindered me from connecting with this book. In fact, I loved how it challenged my views and those set ideas I had in my mind. I may not have always agreed whole-heartedly, but I cherished the words regardless. As a person who’s very much in her head and overthinking a lot, I couldn’t completely let go of my need to rationalize. Where I could see myself giving in to the concept of non-permanence, I don’t think I can ever completely let go of the notion of my self. My unique sense of being is, in my mind, impossible to let go of. I guess there’s too muhc ego involved … Still, everything was very interesting!
If you rush through this book, it might seem very repetitive in parts. I think it will serve you better to see it is a book of meditations, where you visit certain chapters and let them resonate with you to try and see which parts you can apply for now and make use of for your situation. Not everything will always seem like a good fit at any given moment, but I think there truly is a lot of wisdom in it. Just like Chris, I’d like to think that I will return to this book several times and have it help me in ways I’m not even aware of yet.
Click here for more information on No Death, No Fear on Goodreads.
I’m not sure if it was as noticeable to you reading this post as it was to me reading the books, but I found it interesting that I ended up with a pile of stories that all (and I truly mean every. single. book.) involved the theme of religion and/or divinity at one point or another. You may argue that I chose the books and that I could have spruced it up with different reads, and you would be completely right, but I’m also not mad at this outcome. Just slightly surprised maybe.
But the real question remains, are Chris Evans and I compatible based on his preference in books? I’d say … more so than Tom Hiddleston and me, but still not a 100%. Let me explain!
I enjoyed this reading experiment a lot! I was excited to pick up each title and was rarely disappointed in what I got out of it in the end. There were many aspects that challenged me, without it ever feeling like it was too overwhelming or arduous. Yet, all of it still felt very profound and deep, designed to make you think and question your life, in a way. Don’t get me wrong, I like books like that and think this makes us generally a good match, despite me not being an overly spiritual person in my day to day life, but … I’m still waiting for a reading experiment where there’s at least one easy, light-hearted, just plain indulgent book in the mix to give out those 100%. Does that make sense?
At the end of the day, I’d pick up a book Chris Evans recommended again! I can’t say his tastes align with mine all the way, because when I get presented with the choice between a fiction or non-fiction book, I’ll probably always seek the comfort of a made up story. Still, I like what I found here and would definitely go for his suggestions in the future, if I wanted to change things up in my reading routine.