My enormous thanks to the folk at Penguin for sending me a surprise copy of How To Be Human: The Manual by Ruby Wax in return for an honest review. I have to confess this book has been sitting on my TBR for a year, but as it comes out in paperback next week I’m delighted I finally got round to reading and reviewing it.
Published by Penguin Life in paperback on 27th December 2018, How To Be Human is available for purchase through the publisher links here.
How To Be Human
“It took us 4 billion years to evolve to where we are now – completely brilliant and yet, some might say, emotionally dwarfed. The question is: can our more empathetic side catch up in time to save us and the world? I’ve got nothing against smarts, but it’s smarts without emotional awareness that got us into this position of being able to nuke each other into oblivion and rape the earth for oil.”
With a little help from a monk (who tells us how our mind works) and a neuroscientist (who tells us how our brain works), Ruby Wax answers every question you’ve ever had about: evolution, thoughts, emotions, the body, addictions, relationships, sex, kids, the future and compassion.
Filled with witty anecdotes from Ruby’s own life, and backed up by smart science and practical mindfulness exercises, How to be Humanis the only manual you need to help you upgrade your mind as much as you’ve upgraded your iphone.
My Review of How To Be Human
A non-fiction look at how we live our lives and become who we are – and what to do about it!
Not having read anything by Ruby Wax previously I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. What I got in How To Be Human was an honest, open and insightful look at the way we behave, how we are programmed and, more importantly, how we can take back control. Ruby Wax writes with such integrity, warmth and humour it is impossible not to be drawn in, and affected by, her book.
I found myself completely captivated by How To Be Human. I laughed aloud at some of the ways Ruby Wax exemplified her points with anecdotes from her own life and I adored her candid and charismatic approach. She isn’t afraid to voice her own frailties and concerns so that the effect is to make the reader more convinced by her arguments.
The balance between the Ruby Wax’s prosaic examples and the more scientific aspects from Ash Ranpura and the spiritual ones from Gelong Thrubten works so well, particularly through the transcripts of conversations between them. All three open themselves up in a manner that allows the reader to feel they are simply eavesdropping a conversation and technical aspects are made clear and accessible. I confess to being glad I wasn’t Ash Ranpura’s child and I developed a great deal of sympathy for his wife, but you’ll have to read the book to find out why.
I really appreciated the manner in which the examples and theories in the other chapters are given practical approaches in Chapter 11 so that there is something there from which any reader might benefit. For me it was being mindful with every day activities such as cleaning my teeth. I usually physically wander when I’m doing this, checking emails, looking out of the window and so on. Having read How To Be Human I’m learning to give an activity my full attention and then move on and I definitely feel more in control of my life as a result.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the section where Ruby Wax describes the making of her episode of Who Do You Think You Are? Having watched the programme, I could see how the book’s messages of forgiveness and compassion could be applied practically. I’m not saying How To Be Human has completely revolutionised my life, but it has helped me think about others differently and to have more compassion in my day to day life. I’ve learnt to be easier on myself and I think that’s probably a very good place to start.
How To Be Human is a book that practises what it preaches so that I finished it feeling enlightened and empowered. It is intelligent, witty, accessible and helpful. What more could you ask?
About Ruby Wax
Ruby Wax began her career at the Royal Shakespeare Company and is a successful comedian, TV writer and performer of over 25 years. Ruby additionally holds a Master’s degree in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy from Oxford University, and was awarded an OBE in 2015 for her services to mental health.
She is the author of books Sane New World and A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled, and has toured all over the world with the accompanying one-woman shows. Both books have reached the number one spot on the Sunday Times bestsellers list.
She is Visiting Professor in Mental Health Nursing at the University of Surrey, an Ambassador for the charities Mind, Time to Change and Sane and sits on the board of the Anna Freud Centre. In November 2017, she was announced as the president of the UK’s leading relationship support charity Relate.
There’s also a tour coming for How To Be Human and you can find out more here.