The Humans

The Humans by Matt Haig.

(Canongate, 2013)

So this is what happens when you live on Earth. You crack. You hold reality in your hands until it burns and then you have to drop the plate.

The Humans by Matt Haig book cover

This is such an amazing book. It really makes you rethink what we do here on Earth and how we treat each other.

An alien comes to Earth, inhabiting the body of a mathematics professor, with a mission to prevent the human race from progression as they are ‘not ready for it yet’. Humans are ‘prone to violence, deep sexual embarrassment, bad poetry and walking around in circles.’ Yet as the alien character learns more about the illogical human behaviour, the more he is enamoured with human life. Will he be able to fulfil his mission?

I found this book to be really life affirming. Knowing that Haig suffers anxiety and is a big advocate of mental health awareness, I often stepped outside the story to consider that the world portrayed may often be as alien to a person with mental health issues as it was to the main character. I love stories that can make me see things in a different light. Thankfully, so far in my life I have never suffered anxiety nor depression. In the past, I could never wrap my head around it, thinking ‘are they not just sad? Surely if they go for a walk they’ll feel better?’ not realising how naïve I was being. I understood a little more when I volunteered at Samaritans for a time. It really did teach me new ways of dealing with and attempting to understand mental health problems. However, the turning point was Hyperbole and a Half’s blog post: Adventures in Depression. Finally. I understood (as much as I could without experiencing) the crushing, crippling, overwhelming weight that it brings. It scared me. It can happen to anyone. That blog post made me a more understanding person. This book added to that understanding. I think it’s fantastic that there is so much more openness and discussion around mental health problems now, although there is still a long way to go.

The advice for humans towards the end is great and full of genuine wit and wisdom.

In short, an excellent read and full of brilliant advice for life that will benefit everyone. It’s funny, insightful, sad, intelligent and wonderful.

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