How To Be Human: The Manual by Ruby Wax

Book Review Apr 04, 2022

My review

4/5 stars

I've read a couple of Ruby Wax's books now, and I've enjoyed everything I've read so far. This was no exception.

The book covers various aspects of the human experience, with a chapter dedicated to each topic. The book is written by a comedian so, as you would expect, it handles these topics with levity and tongue firmly in cheek. This humour serves to bring light to some fairly heavy subjects and helps to land the subject matter in a way that leaves you realising that life is better when you don't take it so seriously. Given that the author is a comedian, it would be easy to think that the book isn't going to give you any solid, meaningful information, but Ruby Wax is very well-versed in the science behind how her brain works. The information she shares is easy to digest, important to know and makes you realise that none of us has anything wrong with us, we just have variations in how our brain processes the world around us and we are not alone.

I really enjoyed the interviews at the end of each chapter with the monk and the neuroscientist. They helped bring perspective to each subject and showed that there are many ways to process the same information depending on how you want to live your life, and also that our struggles are the same no matter how we choose to live; a monk is as likely to struggle with negative mood as a scientist or you and me on the street. The interviews were delivered well in the audiobook format, with each of them voicing their parts of the transcript; it would be interesting to see if those reading the book in paperback or hardback felt the same about those sections, as I'm sure hearing the conversations added something to how they landed.

There is nothing in this book that isn't available in other formats, but I enjoyed that this format allowed for Ruby Wax's dry humour and wit to soften some of the information and make the topics that much more accessible.

Book blurb

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.


You can buy the book here now. It was published by Penguin.

If you want to know more about the author, you can head to her website, follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or check out her Goodreads page.