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How to Be Human: The Manual

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  985 ratings  ·  111 reviews
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 th ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 25th 2018 by Penguin Life
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3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  985 ratings  ·  111 reviews

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Prachi Pati
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: self-help
There are books that work for you, and then there are books that just don’t cut it. It may be a best seller or a book by a renowned author, and yet, if you have to be honest, you would admit that a book didn’t work for you. The reasons could be multiple, trivial or very relevant, and yet- there are some things that you just need to accept and move on.

This book was one such disappointment for me. It hurts a little more, because I bought a paper book to read after ages, and found out that this was
Giuseppe D
Aug 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Let's say 3.5 on this one. I liked bits of it. The first chapter about evolution is quite funny if but it seems sometimes a bit simplistic. And it's a theme throughout the book, sometimes it feels like the author is reducing everything to her own experience a little too much, especially in the chapter about relationships.

I liked how everything goes through the different points of view of the neuroscientist who tries to explain where in the brain stuff happens (turns out we still don't know much
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Bloedneus? Mindfulness! Afvoer verstopt? Mindfulness! Wie nog niets weet van mindfulness laat zich misschien overtuigen van de potentie door dit derde boek van Ruby Wax over mindfulness. In het boek beschrijft Wax alle belangrijke facetten in het leven, liefde, geluk, compassie et cetera met een neurochirurg en een monnik en de conclusie van elk hoofdstuk: mindfulness is het antwoord, de sleutel tot geluk! En het boek levert talloze oefeningen voor de beginnende mindfulness-student. Wax, afgestu ...more
A M Y - L O U I S E tomeswithtea
This review can also be found on my blog:


"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 o
Luke Blackamore
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ruby Wax can do no wrong in my mind
Nicole Sweeney
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Review originally posted on The Bibliophile Chronicles.

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.

There are some really interesting parts of t
Jan 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
I couldn't bring myself to get even halfway through this book. For some reason the tone is excruciating to me, and I just can't understand the appeal to anyone who isn't a child!

I really just do not understand the modern trend with writing in a tone of 'I know so little about this wow this is all so big and confusing' when you're supposed to be writing to inform people. I found the 'conversation' parts actually infuriating - there are numerous quotes where the author actually interrupts the neur
Maïa Grange
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How to Be Human is the first book by Ruby Wax that I have read, and I'll start by saying I will definitely be reading more!

How to Be Human is a succinct, 'psychology 101' type book for any individual wanting to understand a bit about how the human mind and social interactions work. I know I just made the book sound dry - except it is anything but!

Wax skilfully integrates scientific findings, anecdotes, jokes and stories (both autobiographical and other) to make this book a light, interesting a
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really liked the structure of this book. Ruby Wax introduces each chapter (on various aspects of being human), which is then followed by a transcription of the relevant conversation between her, Gelong Thubten (the monk), and Ashish Ranpura (the neuroscientist). These exchanges don't always feel easy to me, but I'm sure it's hard to transcribe these things and keep the length under control. At the end of the book is a section of mindfulness exercises for each chapter's topic. For me, as a Budd ...more
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-books
Like a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in a book. There is real knowledge in this book about how the mind works and how we feel things and how we can change our feelings. It’s easy to read and provides methods for meditation in your daily life. The conversations between ruby wax, the neuroscientist and the monk were fascinating though would work better on an audio book or podcast. Overall would recommend to any who wants to learn more about their mind and their ability to train it.
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Ruby Wax, a monk and neuroscientist walk into a bar.

Not really, but they do sit around and discuss life, mindfulness and the science behind it. The result is an enjoyable and informative exploration of evolution, brain development and how mindfulness is even more important in coping with modern life than ever. It is well researched, funny and insightful and makes a good beginners guide to the whys and hows of mindfulness.
Shirley Bateman
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Highly practical and deeply insightful. The book taught me so much about mindfulness and compassion. The main message I’ve taken from it is that we should always be kind to ourselves, especially when negativity takes over our thoughts.

The audiobook, narrated by Wax, the Buddhist monk, Gelong Thubten, and neuroscientist, Ash Ranpura, is really special. I particularly loved listening to Thubten taking us through the mindfulness exercises.
Linda Hill
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
A non-fiction look at how we live our lives and become who we are – and what to do about it!

Not having read anything by Ruby Wax previously I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. What I got in How To Be Human was an honest, open and insightful look at the way we behave, how we are programmed and, more importantly, how we can take back control. Ruby Wax writes with such integrity, warmth and humour it is impossible not to be drawn in, and affected by, her book.

I found myself completely captivated
Phil Bradley
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazingly helpful book. It gave lots of good advice, especially on mindfulness and compassion. Lots of useful exercises as well. Really enjoyed some of the sidelights that it gave me. “The brain is Velcro for negative thoughts and Teflon for positive ones”. Thoroughly recommend this book to everyone.
Lady Drinkwell
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I only seem to like self help books written by Ruby Wax. I very much liked the combination of the monk and the neuroscientist and there are some very useful mindfulness exercises at the end. I have put it on a shelf in the bathroom in case visitors would like to read it.
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fabulous guide to mindful living.
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Ruby Wax looks at how humans struggle to cope in a world that we have not yet evolved to live in. It was quite interesting, although I’m not sure, personally, if the style is quite for me in places but that’s just me, I think that how Ruby writes about mental health is brilliant for making it more open and accessible. Anyway, I quite liked the chats at the end of each chapter between Ruby, the monk and the neuroscientist (the monk, in particular, strikes me as an interesting guy) and the chapter ...more
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
”I’m going to start where we all started, back in the swamp and with a fine-toothed comb find out what happened to make us who we are today. (I spoke a little about this in Frazzled but am now digging deeper). Are we everything evolution dreamed we’d be? If not – who can we blame? Not that we can do anything about it. but if there’s life on other planets, they may learn from us. The human race is a miracle when it comes to survival. If you’re alive and reading this book right now, you’re a bona ...more
Sunneva Smaradottir
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
I want to rate this book with 2.5- but since that's not an option I will elaborate on my review.

Ruby Wax (the author) has good insight into the human psyche - i.e. thoughts and emotions. She is upfront with her dealings with depression and other character flaws. She manages to round up in a short book the stress of modern life on the human mind and how our "biological predisposition" affects us in ways that are not always obvious to us. That is, she speculates that our anxiety, depression and st
"If you're reading this book right now, you're already a gold medal winner in the evolutionary Hunger Games... " Given the dysfunctional nature of my body I think I probably only just scraped in with a participation trophy, but I am immensely pleased to have beaten the odds and not been born a frog!

How to Be Human is a funny, compassionate, and insightful guide to mindfulness, empathy, forgiveness, and the pursuit of inner peace over external perfection.

In writing this book, Ruby Wax teamed up
Sarah Hopkins
This book is a conglomeration of thoughts by Ruby Wax, a lady credited for her work towards better mental health, a neuroscientist of great intelligence and a Buddhist monk who is a practitioner of mindfulness.
It suggests that, for all our advances as a species with technological breakthroughs and strivings to better ourselves and our world, we still need to embrace a satisfaction in the moment of where we are each currently at.
There are some interesting facts and quotes - like we actually shar
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
The concept behind How to Be Human is great and it's worth a read. As I read through the section on Evolution I thought to myself 'This is the kind of book I would like to write!' - An accessible explanation on why humans turned out the way they have (as far as we can tell anyway). It touches on stuff I've read in other books but it's nice to have that knowledge re-enforced.

Ruby then segues onto such topics as compassion, the body and emotions. Providing a bit of background and then talks with
Feb 05, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 05, 2018 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book.
I was at the Hay Festival of Books in May where Ruby, Thubten and Ash, i.e. the author, the monk and the neuro-scientist, were interviewed about the book. The session was lively, entertaining and interesting. After the session, I bought the book and even asked them to sign it for me.

As someone who has been on a journey for a while trying to get into mindfulness, and feeling on the cusp of Something Important, I am very interested in the questions Ruby was a
Nov 30, 2018 rated it liked it
My quest to read all the books I bought, dumped in a box and then forgot about continues. This week - How to Be Human by Ruby Wax and Two Interesting People.

I'm not sure why I stuck with this one after Mindfulness for the Frazzled , by the same author, was such a letdown. How to Be Human turned out to be a mixed bag. Then again, Neil Gaiman liked it, so of course it can't be all bad.

Like Frazzled, this book is peppered with Ruby's "insights" and anecdotes from her own life (that I couldn't care
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
You can also find this review on my blog.
I could not resist picking this book up after loving Ruby Wax's previous books as I was definitely intrigued by this collaboration with a neuroscientist and a monk that impart their knowledge into the book the monk shares important info on mindfulness and  a neuroscientist who  shares what is going on in the brain this combination of opinions in a book some of its reviews on its colourful cover definitely drew me in.

Jennifer Sullivan
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is fantastic! Reading it is like being part of an enlightening yet witty conversation amongst friends :-)

This book is like a 3-in-1. You get the insight of author Ruby Wax, a top neuroscientist and a monk. That pretty much covers all the bases in terms of relatability, intellect and spiritual wisdom :-) I loved the way the contributors were able to connect and explain how our body, mind and soul are all linked. It may sound like a fluffy sentiment but after reading this interesting, f
Angie Jones-Moore
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How to be Human, should be compulsory reading for everyone.

Ruby Wax has written about serious mental health issues, her own life, the lives of the neuroscientist and the Monk; engaging the reader through her use of humour and knowledge of the human race.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, knowing very little about Mindfulness, I thought it may be a bit too 'out there' for me. As it happens, I loved it from start to finish. I have found myself applying some of the techniques and benefiti
Oct 31, 2018 rated it liked it
I'd seen quite a few positive reviews about this book so when I saw it was available on Borrow Box (highly recommend the local library app for reading books) I borrowed it straight away.
Written with input from a Buddhist Monk and  Neuroscientist, it was fascinating to read the conversations and perspective of the three. I felt like I was listening in on a very deep conversation in a café.
It's much more than a mindfulness book I feel, though I do love the addition of the mindfulness exercises. Th
Jason Thorne
Mar 23, 2019 rated it liked it
I remembered Ruby Wax from a standup I saw on TV a couple of decades ago, and I remembered really liking it. There are a few Jewish comedians who can be really funny, Seinfeld, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen. I would liken this book more to Seinfeld, sometimes a little too painfully neurotic, but then I was expecting that. It had some good messages, I just had to get past the uninformed and unreferenced "speculation as truth" prophesies of how technology will unfold to do everything for us.

In actual f
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Ruby Wax arrived in Britain in 1977 to pursue an acting career. She says "I really could never find my niche. I was a terrible actress, I couldn't sing, I couldn't do characters, I couldn't do an English accent and I lived in England, so I was narrowing it down".

She met French and Saunders at a party and worked alongside them a number of times, on television in Happy Families, at charity events su