Review: How to Be Human by Ruby Wax

Hello my loves!

I hope you’re all having a decent Monday so far! Today I am coming to you with a super exciting post. At least, I’m super excited about it. About 10 days ago, a lovely lady named Heather contacted me on behalf of Penguin (YES! PENGUIN! I’M STILL CRYING INSIDE!) asking whether or not I’d be interested in receiving a copy of Ruby Wax’s new book that was due to be published on the 25th of January. The minute I calmed down and actually read the rest of the email, I got even more excited. Now, to preface, I read Frazzled by Ruby Wax in 2016 and thoroughly enjoyed it, and so having read something by Ruby before and knowing that I really like her writing style, I figured I would enjoy this one.

Review: How to Be Human by Ruby Wax
Review: How to Be Human by Ruby Wax

Synopsis

“It took us 4 billion years to evolve to where we are now. No question, anyone reading this has won the evolutionary Hunger Games by the fact you’re on all twos and not some fossil. This should make us all the happiest species alive – most of us aren’t, what’s gone wrong? We’ve started treating ourselves more like machines and less like humans. We’re so used to upgrading things like our iPhones: as soon as the new one comes out, we don’t think twice, we dump it. (Many people I know are now on iWife4 or iHusband8, the motto being, if it’s new, it’s better.) We can’t stop the future from arriving, no matter what drugs we’re on. But even if nearly every part of us becomes robotic, we’ll still, fingers crossed, have our minds, which, hopefully, we’ll be able use for things like compassion, rather than chasing what’s ‘better’, and if we can do that we’re on the yellow brick road to happiness. I wrote this book with a little help from a monk, who explains how the mind works, and also gives some mindfulness exercises, and a neuroscientist who explains what makes us ‘us’ in the brain. We answer every question you’ve ever had about: evolution, thoughts, emotions, the body, addictions, relationships, kids, the future and compassion. How to be Human is extremely funny, true and the only manual you’ll need to help you upgrade your mind as much as you’ve upgraded your iPhone”.

In the beginning…

I must say this book came to be at the most perfect time. I was having a pretty bad mental health week, as we all do sometimes, and I needed something. Now, I wasn’t sure what I needed but I knew it wasn’t any of my current reads. I suddenly realised that this book was sitting on my bedside table. I began to read right away. I really had to pace myself with this one. It really is one of those books you could read in one sitting. Instead I chose to read it slowly, to really take it all in, to think about and process what I was reading and read it over a weekend. I am so glad I did it that way. This is also the first book that I’ve used my new mark-up method on (arrow-shaped paperclips and genius!).

The book is set out in 12 specific chapters. Each with an explanation from Ruby herself and then, at the end of every chapter, there is a discussion between Ruby and the two other most vital components of this book; Gelong Thubten, and Buddhist Monk and Ash Ranpura, a Neuroscientist, both of whom are incredibly knowledgable in their respective fields.

Now I am going to keep this review spoiler-free because I want you all to go out, get this book and read it, so that we can love it together, but I will give you the chapter titles to give you a little feel for what is coming your way and a little about what I took from them:

The chapters…

  1. Evolution (great introduction for those who know next to nothing about the subject)
  2. Thoughts (hello lightbulb!)
  3. Emotions (can’t live with them, can’t live without them)
  4. The Body (more closely linked to your emotions than you would think)
  5. Compassion (Ruby talks about self-compassion here and I thought it most insightful)
  6. Relationships (tip: don’t meet a guy when you’re ovulating)
  7. Sex (this one is absolutely hilarious, read it, you’ll see)
  8. Kids (great section on what to teach your children, it’s never too late by the way)
  9. Addiction (hit home, read my post about my ‘slight’ addiction here)
  10. The Future (the ship of Theseus – look it up)
  11. Mindfulness Exercises (there’ll be a separate post on this in a few weeks once I’ve had the chance to try out all of the exercises for myself)
  12. Forgiveness (my favourite chapter, by far)

So what did I think?

I loved it. That’s the long and short of it. Like I said it came at the perfect time for me, a time when I needed to know that I wasn’t a complete failure. It is written in the most understandable and accessible way without being at all patronising. I think the element that totally makes this book for me is the honesty from Ruby and the humour in which she discusses the topics. Now, I am not one for self-help books, not at all. In fact, I tend to run away from them at full speed. This however, felt very different. It was a self-help book without trying to be, at least from my point of view. When I started reading this book on Friday evening I had had the most horrific week at work and was just about ready to give it all up. I felt myself slipping back into that pit of depression and the only thing I could think about was how absolutely useless I am. How to Be Human however managed to completely drag me out of that state. I am sitting here at 6pm on a Sunday evening, writing this review, and I feel more positive than I have all week. Now that should tell you something.

How did I rate it?

I think you can probably tell that I loved this book. I think it’ll be one of those books that I dip back into time and time again when I’m feeling pants. It is thoughtful, well-written, clearly well researched, funny and uplifting, all at the same time. I honestly couldn’t recommend this more, and am so grateful to Heather and Penguin for sending it to me. Definitely a 5/5 stars and a possible 2018 favourite! Now excuse me while I go make everyone in my life read this book!

Peace and pages
Amy
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14 thoughts on “Review: How to Be Human by Ruby Wax

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