With everything that's been going on in the last 6 months (yes it really has been that long since this whole pandemic started) I have really bought into the escapism element of reading to give myself a break from the drama of real life. When I saw this book on NetGalley, I figured now would be the perfect time to read it; on the whole, I was right.
This is an optimistic look at how we may be able to undo some of the modern-day mess that we've allowed ourselves to get into. Yes we're addicted to technology, but in the near future it could be saving our lives in ways we haven't even imagined yet. Yes we're overeating, but there's time for us to rejuvenate farming and undo the damage. Yes, business is dog-eat-dog, but we're starting to realise the importance of purpose over profit. Essentially the message of this book is that there's a lot to be scared of in this world, but there are signs that we're starting to realise how we can make it better and ultimately we're still in control (of what we consume and how we consume it, in all senses of the word), we just need to remember that.
It would be easy for a book of this nature to come across as preachy, but the conversational, light-hearted, humorous tone makes everything feel accessible and less scary. It feels very much like having a chat with your friend, who just happens to be really passionate about these particular topics. The snippets of her life that the author has chosen to include to help highlight her points serve to make the book feel more personal, and keep everything in perspective - Ruby Wax is admitting that she is just as guilty as the next person when it comes to perpetuating these societal problems, but is doing something about educating herself in a different way of life and sharing her learnings with us.
My only hesitation with this book is that the title is all about good news, but on a couple of the topics it felt like there was a little too much emphasis on how things are now rather than how they could be. At times I found myself feeling a little depressed or anxious when reading, rather than uplifted or hopeful. Thought, maybe that was the author's intention - spark change in her readers by making them realise how scary and sad current reality is.
On the whole, I came away from this book feeling like there was hope for what is currently holding us back to be the same thing that propels us forward, if we all just spend a little time focusing on how we use it. The main thing for me, though, is that I don't feel like I was beaten over the head to come to that conclusion - Ruby Wax's unique style made it feel easy and fun.
*I received an electronic advanced copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
When was the last time that reading the news made you feel good?
I know what you're thinking, is it some kind of macabre joke? Has she been in a coma? How can Ruby Wax write a book about good news when the world is facing the worst disaster since the Plague?
Let me explain. I began writing in 2018, back when the world's worries were somewhat different. Climate change, greedy bankers, exam results, crap politicians, mental health: these are still HUGE ISSUES, but even the ancient soothsayers reading pig entrails couldn't have predicted this.
This is my new mission: to share the green shoots of hope peeping through the soil of civilization. Literacy is at an all-time high, world-hunger is likely to be eradicated this century, technological improvements are saving lives - just to scratch the surface. I've talked to everyone from leaders to scientists to tech geniuses. I've done the research and practiced what I preach. And my conclusion? Behind the clouds, the sun still shines.
So here's to the shoots - may they become a blueprint for how the world can shift for the good. Hopefully we'll learn from them.
You can buy the book here from 17 September 2020. It's being published by Penguin.