editor's choice




Most people will recognise Kate Humble from telly. She’s a well-known face; honest, appealing, the kind of person you’d like to sit down and have a cuppa with and chat, knowing you’ll come away enriched by the experience. It’s thus a joy that Humble’s new book, A Year of Living Simply, reflects her broadcasting style. It’s conversational, thoughtful, funny, at times even profound, and just strips away a lot of the nonsense that we’ve been obsessed with in our twenty-first century, all singing all dancing world, to what really matters: being happy and how we achieve that.

Early on in the book, Humble observes that it’s an intrinsic part of human nature to resist change, ‘even if we know that change may be the very thing that we need to embrace’. In many ways that simple statement sums up our current times: we know we have to change to survive the challenges currently being thrown at us – COVID and Lockdown have shown that to us explicitly. And yet, while we’re in crisis, in so many ways, we can’t help but cling on to things that really don’t help us, don’t help our planet, things that actually are making our lives more challenging, that may even potentially endanger our very existence. If we’re astronauts on a ‘little spaceship called Earth’, as Humble observes, ‘we are a crew in mutiny’.

This is not a preachy book. It’s not saying give up having fun, throw away all your smart devices and go and live in the forest – well, maybe the latter – it’s a book quite simply, for me at least, about breath. About stepping back and taking time to appreciate what or who we truly enjoy, what makes us feel better about ourselves, our lives, the world, rather than just perhaps what we’re being told might make us so.

A Year of Living Simply is a joy to read. I didn’t get through it in one sitting, but went back to it again and again – and it’s a book that I’ll probably dip into again and again. It’s books like this which are, in my humble opinion (no pun intended), the best kind; the ones that make us think, nod, smile, go, ‘Ah, of course. That’s what it is.’

In a world that’s strange, unsettling and not a little mad, joy, happiness, just feeling better about ourselves, our world, our future, believing that we have a future, are all vital, and Kate Humble’s book is a precious guide to helping us achieve all that.


Kate Humble | A Year of Living Simply | Aster | 17 September 2020 | hb | £20

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Acknowledgements: This review is published as part of the publisher book tour. Many thanks to lovely Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for arranging it and to the publisher for sending us a review copy. All opinions are our own. Please check out the other reviews.

Also of interest:By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’;‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”‘; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

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