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The Humans

by Matt Haig

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,7561247,914 (3.86)89
Regarding humans unfavorably upon arriving on Earth, a reluctant extraterrestrial assumes the identity of a Cambridge mathematician before realizing that there's more to the human race than he suspected.
  1. 10
    The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (baystateRA)
    baystateRA: Unreliable narrators observing "normal" human behavior create a lot of the humor in both of these books. The comedy in The Rosie Project isn't as dark as in The Humans.
  2. 00
    The World of the End by Ofir Touché Gafla (fugitive)
    fugitive: Two very odd works using satire and pathos to explore what it means to be human and alive. Two different versions of mortality.
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» See also 89 mentions

English (116)  Dutch (2)  Catalan (2)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (123)
Showing 1-5 of 116 (next | show all)
I read this book with Hilary. I’d been wanting to read this book. I appreciate Hilary asking me if I also wanted to read it with her when she was about to read it and then waiting to read it until I could get a copy and a good day to start it. We were able to read the book at the same times over a period of 5 days. We’re 8 hours apart in time zones but we find ways to read “together” at the same time. Also, I suggested this book to my real world (and since covid also with video meetings) book club and it will be our book for July. I’m pleased.

This was highly enjoyable and just the book I needed right now. It was a page-turner for me.

There were portions where I couldn’t stop laughing out loud. I love looking at human nature & human culture from a humorous and different/alien point of view. At some point (the Violence chapter on?) I still laughed occasionally but not as much as I had been. It felt as though the tone had changed. There was a shift. It made sense since the main character had drastically changed. I thought my rating might go from 5 to 4 but it didn’t. I loved the chapter farther along titled “Advice for a Human” with its 97 items. I nearly cried at 96 of them and I laughed out loud at 1 of them. I laughed at the one about Leonardo da Vinci. I loved the ending. I loved the Acknowledgements section. I love this author. I should make it a point to read everything he writes. I’ve got a few more of his books on my to read shelf. I really enjoyed [book:The Midnight Library|52578297] and [book:How to Stop Time|45152372] and offhand can’t remember why I rated them 4 stars and not 5 stars.

I wonder if I’d have liked this even more if I was highly educated in math.

The dog Newton was great as was the attitude toward dogs. I did want them to go get medicine/treatment for his arthritis pain though! I hope that they did that.

I loved what is said about music and about poetry, and about nature, and about so many other things.

I loved that there was maybe a bit of a subtle wink about veganism regarding the statement about how a cow is still a cow even if you call it beef, something about a chicken breast and something about cheese too. I can’t call it a veg*n book though since the character was not veg*n. I thought that he would be but I guess not.

It was fun that this was a UK/England book and I love those but there was also a very little bit that takes place in the San Francisco Bay Area and I know the places mentioned.

My copy has a “Topics and Questions for Discussion” section at the end with 17 questions and an Enhance Your Book Club” section with 3 more questions to think about and discuss. (I haven’t read them yet nor discussed the entire book with Hilary yet. I might have to come back and edit this review after I do and after I think more about the book.)

It was irritating that all the way through this Kindle edition I saw no page numbers. I read by chapter titles. The lack of page numbers no matter what I did was perplexing since I had page numbers for the other Kindle edition book I was reading at the same time.

There were too many great quotes to list. I found it to be a highly quotable book. Here are only some of the ones that I liked, in no particular order:

“In every human life there is a moment. A crisis. One that says, what I believe is wrong. It happens to everyone, the only difference being how that knowledge changes them.”

“Civilization is the result of a group of humans coming together and suppressing their instincts.”

“Indeed, war and money seemed to be so popular on the news, it should more accurately have been titled The War and Money Show.”

“The single biggest act of bravery or madness anyone can do is the act of change.”

“Make sure, as often as possible, you are doing something you’d be happy to die doing.”

“Don’t aim for perfection. Evolution, and life, only happen through mistakes.”

“I was drinking a cup of tea. I actually enjoyed tea. It was so much better than coffee. It tasted like comfort.”

“Be curious. Question everything. A present fact is just a future fiction.”

“No wonder they were a species of primitives. By the time they have read enough books to actually reach a state of knowledge where they can do anything with it, they are dead.”

“After a while, with a dog on your lap, you realize there is a necessity to stroke it. Don’t ask me how this necessity comes about.”

“Maybe that is what beauty was, for humans. Accidents, imperfections, placed inside a pretty pattern. Asymmetry. The defiance of mathematics.”

“And it certainly seemed ethically questionable, the relationship between humans and dogs, both of whom—on the scale of intelligence that covered every species in the universe—would have been somewhere in the middle, not too far apart.”

“A cat, I discovered, was very much like a dog. But smaller, and without the self-esteem issues.”

“I was able to work out that humans made up for in gullibility. You could tell them anything in a convincing-enough voice and “they would believe it. Anything, of course, except the truth.”

“What I am saying is that it takes time to understand humans because they don’t understand themselves. They have been wearing clothes for so long. Metaphorical clothes. That is what I am talking about. That was the price of human civilization—to create it, they had to close the door on their true selves. And so they are lost, that is how I understand it. And that is why they invented art: books, music, films, plays, painting, sculpture. They “invented them as bridges back to themselves, back to who they are. But however close they get, they are forever removed.”

“The truth is, you see, however much they would beg to disagree, humans don’t actually like to win. Or rather, they like winning for ten seconds, but if they keep on winning, they end up actually having to think about other things, like life and death. The only thing humans like less than winning is losing, but at least something can be done about that. With absolute winning, there is nothing to be done. They just have to deal with it.”

“the whole of human history was full of people who tried against the odds. Some succeeded, most failed, but that hadn’t stopped them. Whatever else you could say about these particular primates, they could be determined. And they could hope. Oh yes, they could hope. And hope was often irrational. It made no sense. If it had made sense, it would have been called, well, sense. The other thing about hope was that it took effort”

“Humans were always doing things they didn’t like doing. In fact, to my best estimate, at any one time only point three percent of humans were actively doing something they liked doing, and even when they did so, they felt an intense guilt about it and were fervently promising themselves they’d be back doing something horrendously unpleasant very shortly.”

“Speaking to a human you cared about, I realized, was so fraught with hidden danger that it was a wonder people bothered speaking at all.”

“Parks were the most common destination on dog walks. A piece of nature—grass, flowers, trees—that was not quite allowed to be truly natural. Just as dogs were thwarted wolves, parks were thwarted forests. Humans loved both, possibly because humans were, well, thwarted. The flowers were beautiful. Flowers, after love, must have been the best advertisement planet Earth had going for it.” ( )
  Lisa2013 | Jun 17, 2022 |
Was für ein bewegendes Buch. Der Klappentext hat mich zunächst zweifeln lassen, aber da ich von dem Autor bereits ein Buch (Wie man die Zeit anhält) auf meiner Favoritenliste habe, habe ich beschlossen, ihm eine Chance zu geben. Zu recht. Selten ein Buch gelesen, das das Thema Menschlichkeit so auf den Punkt bringt wie dieses.

Das aktuelle Buch des Autors ist gerade auf meiner Wunschliste deutlich nach oben gerutscht. ( )
  Ellemir | May 25, 2022 |
Wow.. This book! Just blow my mind!

It starts a little slow and a little ridiculous when an Alien is sent to earth as a math professor. His work is to eliminate everyone who knows about the professor's discovery: the meaning of life. The Hosts - alien's "bosses" - are convinced that humanity is not ready for this discovery and it's too soon for us to know the truth.

In the beginning, Alien passes through a lot of obstacles - such as dealing with crazy people and the life of the professor. And most importantly, life as a human being.

The best part about this book, it's the acknowledgment of how interesting, sad but beautiful our life is. How our feelings are weird and sometimes misunderstood.

It's really a good book about the valorization of life and the people around us. ( )
  Hanna_Rybchynska | Apr 29, 2022 |
I really liked this at first, but by the end its charm had worn off. It's very readable, packed with amusing observations and moving at times, but all a bit obvious too. Worse, it feels like a book that was constructed around its message rather than one where the message has evolved naturally. ( )
  whatmeworry | Apr 9, 2022 |
I thought this book was amazing up until about 2/3rds of the way through. Then it kind of tapered off and I felt bored. I will say that it did end on a really strong note. ( )
  akkasai | Feb 26, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 116 (next | show all)
Proving once again that it's often necessary to take an outsider's view into consideration to fully understand something familiar, The Humans is a treatise addressed to the alien's race, describing the messy, repulsive, delightful and humane nature that makes us human. The alien, who actually prefers a dog to people—a perfectly sensible decision to many humans—discovers one of the greatest dangers of anthropology: the temptation to go “native.”
 

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Haig, Mattprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ferguson, ArchieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meadows, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weinberg, JuliusForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
I have just got a new theory of eternity.

--Albert Einstein
Dedication
To Andrea, Lucas, and Pearl
First words
I know that some of you reading this are convinced humans are a myth, but I am here to state that they do actually exist. For those that don't know, a human is a real bipedal life form of midrange intelligence, living a largely deluded existence on a small, waterlogged planet in a very lonely corner of the universe.
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Humans: An A to Z is a separate book, not the original title of this novel.
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Regarding humans unfavorably upon arriving on Earth, a reluctant extraterrestrial assumes the identity of a Cambridge mathematician before realizing that there's more to the human race than he suspected.

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