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How We Are: Book One of the How to Live Trilogy
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How We Are: Book One of the How to Live Trilogy

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  132 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
How We Are is the first part of the monumental How to Live trilogy, a profound and ambitious series that gets to the heart of what it means to be human: how we are, how we break, and how we mend.

In How We Are, Vincent Deary explores the power of habit and the difficulty of change. As he shows us, we live most of our lives automatically, in small worlds of comfortable habit
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published December 30th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published September 4th 2014)
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Oct 07, 2015 Jose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book. The author delves into what creates character, personality. Is it something etheral inside us sullied by our imperfect existence and our circumstances, a "soul" in the platonic sense? Or is it the other way around where the form, the habits, even the dress become us? How do we pour ourselves into preexisting forms : the gangster, the advertising.executive, the mean girl? This a book about our resistance to change and how it is change , the hard difficult clumsy time of ...more
Jan 24, 2015 Elisa rated it really liked it
Read in tandem with Bill Nye's evolution book and interesting to make connections between human nature/personal evolution and the natural world and evolution in the biological sense.

How We Are also served to calm me in a time of (low-grade but persistent) emotional turmoil. I'm always seeking myself and this book helped to chip away at the veil (a clumsy way of putting it, but oh well.) I look forward to reading the next in the trilogy.
Sep 14, 2015 Wendy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting thoughts and ideas that are drowned in a noisy stream, & sometimes a cacophony, of verbalised consciousness. Frustrating... Maybe that's a parallel and the purpose though!
Kevin McNamara
Mar 16, 2016 Kevin McNamara rated it liked it
A lot of this was fluff, but it did have some usefulness at the end, particularly about not letting habit and routine run your life.
Michael Baranowski
Oct 03, 2016 Michael Baranowski rated it it was ok
After reading a few very positive reviews of this book, I was so interested in reading it for myself, that I put aside what I'd been reading and got a copy on my Kindle. Deary is a ... well, 'spellbinding' might be a bit strong, but he write beautifully and drew me in to what felt like a rich fabric of wise insights. It was only when I reached the end of the book that the spell was broken (so maybe he *is* actually spellbinding) and asked myself, "What was he really saying, in the end?" It ...more
Dianne Oliver
Sep 21, 2015 Dianne Oliver rated it really liked it
I love books that feel like an ongoing conversation. That you dialogue with throughout your day, and wake up thinking over in the night. It may be that a book is just going through the same life situations as you are- a matter of timing, or that you are simply in need of fresh ways of approaching things to fill the cracks of the mind. When this happens, it seems one wants to bring the conversation out into the light of day, and share the ideas with another person. However, in condensing it, it ...more
Joseph Burt
Feb 04, 2016 Joseph Burt rated it did not like it
How We Are was a major disappointment for me. I have recently begun reading psychiatric and psychoanalytic treatises but this book fell flat quickly and never regained its footing. Perhaps, and this is a big perhaps, his staccato form for his introductory points did not mesh well with my reading style, but I will say that there appears to be no rush to publish the other two books of the trilogy and I can see why. This was probably not as well received commercially as anticipated since he appears ...more
Mar 06, 2016 Shai rated it really liked it
Shelves: psych-books
Partially psychologist, partially social commentator, wholly philosopher, Vincent Deary presents a nicely built argument regarding how we are and how we change. We are a sum of our habits, habits that have been ingrained in us throughout our own personal histories and which are reinforced by the people in our lives, the environments we live in, and the situations in which we find ourselves. Yet, at times of change - internal or external - these habits no longer can serve their purpose. We find ...more
Oct 22, 2015 Catrinamaria rated it it was ok
I didn't find it "exhilarating, lyrical, consoling". That was the Guardian's review. I read this account of how and why we might make changes in a sitting, under pressure for my Book Club. Maybe it's not the sort of book you should gallop through. Maybe I should have paused between the Acts to absorb and reflect. There were some key areas which chimed: the impact of the "setting" on self and automatic or new response to events. And the importance of heart, mind and will if any real change is to ...more
Feb 27, 2015 Simona rated it really liked it
Some parts of the book felt over-explanatory, some resonated deeply with my thoughts, over all it is very wholeheartedly written book. It left a persistent feeling that there are things I can do better in my life, I can choose better paths and built better roads, and a realization, how hard it is to break our habits. I am putting this book into shelf "to read again".

"Between us and our circumstance, between us and ourselves, there is always an interplay of ease and discord. It's along that front
Mar 09, 2016 Carol rated it really liked it
Written in a disarming and thoroughly entertaining way, this is a thought provoking book of philosophy and of the cognitive and behavioral sciences, of poetry and of humble hope. Quoting Zizek, Rimbaud, Keats, Cobain and many other brows, high and low, it's a lot of fun to read and I learned a lot. Looking forward to having others read it as well so we can discuss it, and very much looking forward to the next of the series.
He had some interesting ideas although his execution left much to be desired. Oddly all his cultural references seemed oddly dated.
Minus one star for racial cross dressing. While I don't expect him to know the history of cultural vampirism, he could have asked somebody before including such cringe worthy examples.
Mar 07, 2015 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite as good as it could have been. This started well and deserves the reception in the UK but somehow about 75% of the way through he lost me. I guess I was spoiled by Sarah Bakewell's How to Live based on the life of Montaigne that has more depth and is better written
Jul 26, 2015 Nils rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life
Großartiges Buch über persönliche Veränderung. Changiert zwischen Sachbuch, Erfahrungsbericht und Poesie und ist dabei gleichzeitig analytisch, persönlich und mitreißend.
Ruben Baetens
Jan 30, 2016 Ruben Baetens rated it it was ok
Ondanks een duidelijk lijn in het gehele verhaal over wat onze gewoontes vorm geeft, kan het boek nooit begeesteren door een te trage, vertellende stijl.
Mar 05, 2015 Murray rated it it was ok
While I understood what he was trying to say, the book itself didn't quite carry the message across to me. Gave up half way through.
Stephenpperry rated it really liked it
Nov 30, 2015
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susan mcgowan
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May 12, 2015
Michi rated it it was amazing
May 18, 2015
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Jun 12, 2015
Måns Östberg
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Sep 17, 2016
Nicole Reider
Nicole Reider rated it really liked it
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Aisling Keeffe
Aisling Keeffe rated it it was ok
Jul 30, 2016
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“Some people handle life admirably. And other people really don’t. Some get stuck in hideous deforming places and postures and become ever more unbearable versions of themselves.” 0 likes
“Staying the same is a constant and dynamic process.” 0 likes
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