Book Review: How To Be Human – Ruby Wax

Book Review: How To Be Human – Ruby Wax

book review (71)
Release Date:
January 25th 2018
Publisher: Penguin Life
Pages: 272
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.


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.


One of my aims for 2018 is to attempt to read more non-fiction books, when this surprise came through my letterbox I was really excited to read it thinking it would be a fun and interesting look at mindfulness as well as being full of funny anecdotes from Ruby Wax. I’m sure this book will work for plenty of people and fans of Ruby Wax will no doubt adore it, but unfortunately it just wasn’t for me.

book cover (58)There are some really interesting parts of the book, the last chapter which discuses her search for her family history is fascinating, as well as her personal stories about dealing with mental health however I had hoped that it would be an examination of mental health and a look at the science behind it, but it felt much more like a self help book for me. I also didn’t find many of the stories funny and this lessened my enjoyment of the book.

The idea of having different perspectives for the book – Ruby Wax, a neuroscientist and a monk was a really great idea and I liked seeing how those different people understood mental health and daily stresses. The sections which read like a conversation between the three felt a little stilted for me and I found it a bit dry. I do wonder if perhaps this book would work much better as a audio book, almost like a podcast discusses the different topics.

If you’re looking for an introduction to mindfulness this book does have a lot of exercises and information for beginners which might be really helpful and if you’re interested in understanding the differing perspectives towards mental health this might be just the book you’re looking for.
2 stars

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