Overall I think this book was very interesting as I haven’t read anything like this point of view. Before taking this class and reading this book I found myself somewhat buying into the idea of paleofantasies. I disagree with many lifestyle changes to a paleo way of living, but I did find myself thinking about how physically/mentally weak modern-day humans are living in houses, buying food at the grocery store, and driving around in cars compared to ancient hominins. I do understand the yearning of certain people for simpler times like this, which is why I chose this book to get a different point of view. Many of the books I’ve read have talked about the negative affects of grains, gluten, and carbohydrates on the body and I do see myself eating more meats and vegetables because of this. I’ve also read lots of things about exercising, barefoot running, and endurance hunting and think these theories are fascinating and am ashamed of myself that I’m not able to get off my couch and run a marathon. I also definitely found myself being a proponent of cancer, chronic disease, and many infectious diseases being modern illnesses, and have never really read many arguments against that.
All that being said I think I learned a lot from reading this book. I was somewhat disappointed that the book didn’t have as many definitive conclusions as some other anthropological books that I’ve read and wasn’t as direct and to the point as I think I would’ve liked, but I also appreciate the author taking a very unbiased approach as the reality of it all is that there is no optimal way of living, so there is no definitive answer. Each chapter she talked about a different topic of our way of life and I expected my mind to be blown and my thinking to be completely altered, but instead the ending was almost always the same, which basically was that there really isn’t a correct way of doing this and that people have evolved in different places and have developed different ways of doing things that it really depends on the individual as to what is right for them. Even the fact that she admits that we are all going to die from something at some point and the fact that she sort of says there is not really a solution for many infectious diseases or cancer because they have always and will always be part of our nature was a bit sobering, but overall a great takeaway. I think it is very beneficial for students like myself to read this book because it does make one question their way of thinking, question what they hold to be universally true, and not just give people a definitive, simple answer to questions that are so unbelievable complex, nuanced, and understudied.
After reading this book I am left with tons of questions and will need to do my own research on the validity of some of her arguments and whether or not the studies she cited have been backed up by more research or stand alone. I’m also not really sure what other experts in the field say about her book and I am looking forward to reading reviews and digging deeper on many of the topics brought up in the book. In the end I thought this book was very enjoyable and easy to read and appreciated that the book read like a novel instead of a scientific paper and really made me think as a reader.