Ruby Wax's No Brainer: It's All In The Mind

Book Review Sep 30, 2020

My review

4/5 stars

I downloaded this after having introduced myself to Ruby Wax's writing in her most recent book, And Now For The Good News. I liked that book enough to want to explore more of what she had explored and the idea of delving into how our brains tick was fascinating.

I wasn't disappointed. The book felt more like a podcast in its format, with regular input from interviews that the author conducted with various leaders in their fields, and "chapters" dedicated to one particular theme (such as ageing, nature vs. nuture, addiction, or stress); I think this was part of the reason that the content felt so digestible. Another big part is the accessibility of Ruby Wax's style; she's not afraid to ask the "silly" questions and gives analogies that feel relatable. Her humour also goes a long way to making otherwise heavy topics feel more bouyant and fun. It would have been easy for the science to be off-putting to a reader like me who isn't very well-versed in that particular area, especially because at times it goes way beyond basic understanding, but I never got to that point - everything felt accessible.

The one downside that I found was that the sheer amount of interviews with eminent scientists and thought leaders in each episode made the content feel a little jumpy and challenging to follow at times; random commentary mixed in from Ruby herself was charming and funny, but didn't always help the situation.

My parting thought is this is a great way to introduce yourself to some of the more complex theories about how the brain works without overwhelming yourself, and the fact that it comes with a healthy dose of humour doesn't hurt at all. I have come away from it feeling like I've learned a load of new interesting things, without having put any effort into the actual learning process - what's better than that?!

Book blurb

Making No-Brainer made Ruby Wax, in her own words, 'the happiest woman alive'. But then Ruby's take on happiness might be a little different from others. The same goes for her take on longevity, stress, death, compassion, attention, teenagers and the eternal nature vs. nurture debate. In her own inimitable style, she uncovers the cerebral forces driving each of these human phenomena by talking to experts in a wide range of fields, from neurologists to Buddhist monks.

Could we be happier? Calmer? Better human beings?

In this Audible Original, Ruby Wax hunts down her heroes - brain scientists - in the UK and across America, to learn more about what makes us tick: why we get stressed, how we feel pain, what makes us addicted - and has a lot of fun along the way.

She faces death with Past Mortems author Carla Valentine, explores how video games affect our attention with gamification expert Gabe Zichermann, and discovers the benefits of vaginal smearing with Professor Tim Spector. Natural Born Learners author Alex Beard reveals what teenagers really need to know for a good education and visitors to a New York soup kitchen help Ruby confront her fear of compassion.

In No-Brainer Ruby draws on memories of her own difficult childhood and long history of depression and makes you laugh out loud with her frank observations and anarchic questions. You’ll learn a lot about your brain, and hear a ton of advice on how to use it better.


You can download the book here now. It's an Audible Original.

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.