> Skip to content
Read an extract
Play sample
  • Published: 18 May 2021
  • ISBN: 9781786091000
  • Imprint: Windmill Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $22.99

How Do We Know We're Doing It Right?

the Sunday Times bestseller

From the co-host of The High Low comes the essential first book on navigating our contemporary chaos.


Stop searching for the answers - and start delighting in the questions with Pandora Sykes, co-host of The High Low podcast.

'Deliciously fascinating' MARIAN KEYES
'Refreshing ... thoughtful, considered' STYLIST
'Timely and fulsome' CANDICE CARTY-WILLIAMS
'Joyful and wise' LISA TADDEO
Modern life is full of choices - but how do we know we're making the right ones? Why, in our attempts to make life easier, do we often make it harder?

With a light touch and plenty of humour, Pandora Sykes delves into the myths we've been sold and the stories we tell ourselves, in a timely bid to encourage us to consider the lives we once led, and how they might better serve us. It's time to stop looking for the answers - and start delighting in the questions.
'Thoughtful and funny' DOLLY ALDERTON

'Like a very clever, lucid, charming friend unpacking all the messy anxieties of modern existence with tremendous intelligence and elan. Read this book. It will help your life' INDIA KNIGHT

'Had me cackling. So smart but so well-researched' CANDICE BRATHWAITE

'Energetic and compelling' OLIVIA SUDJIC

'Navigates complicated issues with great humanity, humour and humility ... [it] left me wanting more' SATHNAM SANGHERA

'Self-aware, self-deprecating, relatable, funny, and brilliantly curious' STACEY DOOLEY
'Witty and zeitgeisty ... strikes a fresh, honest note' VANITY FAIR
Readers love Pandora's first book:

'A truly marvellous debut'
'Insightful and beautifully written'
'Totally brilliant ... I devoured this masterpiece in one sitting'
'A bright book in a gloomy year'
'Feeling a lot better about life after finishing this!'
'I adored Pandora's book and will be thinking about it for a long time.'
'So clever and thought-provoking'
'Pandora is a wonderful writer and I found myself unexpectedly in tears by the end'


  • Published: 18 May 2021
  • ISBN: 9781786091000
  • Imprint: Windmill Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Pandora Sykes

Pandora Sykes is a journalist and speaker. A former editor and columnist for the Sunday Times Style and a Contributing Editor at Elle, she has written for publications including Telegraph, Observer, GQ and Vogue. She is the co-host of the weekly pop-culture and current affairs podcast, The High Low. This is her first book.

Praise for How Do We Know We're Doing It Right?

Self-aware, self-deprecating, relatable, funny and brilliantly curious.

Stacey Dooley

Pandora is my personal guru on all things relating to the zeitgeist. How lucky you are that she can now be yours too.

Dolly Alderton

I absolutely loved How Do We Know We're Doing It Right?. It’s like a very clever, lucid, charming friend unpacking all the messy anxieties of modern existence with tremendous intelligence and elan. Women will recognise parts of the themselves on every page, regardless of their age, whether Sykes is writing about authenticity, social media or the need to always seem busy. I found it deeply interesting and often enlightening: I kept putting it down to think about something the author had said. Read this book. It will help your life.

India Knight

Plainly and hotly, ahead of its time. It is a masterful collection of essays that I held in my hand like a tome. Citing everyone from Keynes to Kardashian(s), this brilliant, joyful, wise, necessary collection gives you everything you need. The writing is sharp and also lush. Irreverent yet emotionally intelligent. It is an encylopedia of tomorrow, a history of yesterday, and a means by which to understand and navigate the present.

Lisa Taddeo, author of THREE WOMEN

As zeitgeisty and juicy as an episode of The High Low with extra dollops of knowledge, nostalgia, wit and wisdom from Pandora's decade in journalism, I ripped through this. Utterly fascinating.

Emma Gannon

A brilliant, brave and highly erudite collection of essays. Pandora Sykes is emerging as a leading thinker of her generation.

Will Storr

A collection of essays that feel like I'm in a deep and open conversation with the person who peered inside my head and saw exactly what I've been thinking about all these years. Thorough, timely and fulsome.

Candice Carty-Williams

In How Do We Know We're Doing It Right?, Pandora Sykes puts her considerable intelligence, unflinching attention and incredible use of language to scrutinise, unpick, challenge and forgive some of the trickiest knots facing modern woman. Under her gaze the apparently superficial reveal significant and systematic injustices; the personal is used as a way to prise open a window on conditioning, consumerism and codswallop. She looks beyond the white, middle class, well-educated female experience to ask: where are we, how did we get here and don't we deserve better? It's a bloody triumph.

Nell Frizzell, author of THE PANIC YEARS

Provocative and profound, subtle and thoughtful, funny and beautiful.

Daisy Buchanan

A collection shot through with inquiring curiosity and thoughtful questioning, written with real consideration and candour.

Elizabeth Day

With this book, Pandora has done heavy lifting around our day-to-day quandaries for you. Thoughtful, well-researched and wise, Pandora's got it licked. You need it on your desk for those moments when you think "what's the point"? Read it and then bugger on feeling a lot brighter and less alone.

Emma Barnett

Sykes's essays, written pre-pandemic, could have read like a relic from a pampered bygone age with nothing bigger to worry about. Yet, instead, it feels like a cleareyed warning of the world to which we may now be returning.

Gaby Hinsliff, Guardian

In this collection of essays on modern life, she turns her razor sharp attention to everything from GOOP to that Zara dress and our obsession with authenticity and will have you understanding the wild, weird and wonderful times we live in a little better.


A timely collection of essays from journalist and podcast host Pandora Sykes that touch on everything from happiness to wellness; womanhood to consumerism and the anxieties and agendas that consume our lives ... Sharp and observant writing ... A manifesto for the millennial woman.

Evening Standard

Brilliant, thoughtful and incisive [...] a break from the noise.

Evening Standard

Oh-so relatable

Kate Wills, Sun

With her trademark wit, wisdom and warmth, Pandora seems to leave no stone of modern life unturned in this thought-provoking read.

Good Housekeeping

Sykes has channelled her wisdom into a book of essays which explore everything from email culture to fast fashion and the cult of 'authenticity'.


[A]bsurdly well-researched, prescient and pin-sharp [...] so definitely pick it up'

Sirin Kale

If you're into the kind of book that you can greedily imbibe in a few riveted sittings (and why wouldn't you be) don't miss Pandora Sykes' debut [...] It's as witty and zeitgeisty as you'd expect from 'The High Low' co-host, but it's also thoroughly, thoughtfully researched [...] The essays avoid cliché to strike a fresh, honest note. It's highly likely you'll close this book with half the pages turned down and pictures of passages

Vanity Fair

These 242 pages are an (exhaustive, though not depressing) middle-finger to the word 'should'. A word which justifies women feeling the need to constantly scrutinise every decision; in the name of self-improvement, in order to have the Best Life Possible, at a hundred miles an hour.


Energetic and compelling.

Olivia Sudjic

[I]t's thrillingly, DELICIOUSLY fascinating about How We Live Now. She's a MINE of information- philosophy, science, literature, stats, all pulled together in her coolly elegant prose. I could not put it down!

Marian Keyes

By turns sparkling and serious, How Do We Know We Are Doing It Right? exemplifies Sykes' uncanny reading of the zeitgeist

Claire Allfree, Metro

Tackles subjects that some might dismiss as trivial (texting, social media, why women increasingly want to dress like one another) with striking intellectual rigour ... refreshing for the depth and breadth of its research. Rather than making generalisations about womanhood based on anecdotes from her own life, Sykes draws on statistics, philosophy, pop culture and more to make thoughtful, considered observations.


Sykes stays true to "High Low" form by using a high-low mix of vocabulary ... We have all had moments of asking ourselves if we are doing "this" - gestures vaguely - right, which makes the book all the more likeable. This is a form of learning how to succeed by failing - as it admits to being human.

Best non-fiction books about failure, Independent

This will spark a thousand conversations and encourage us to find our own path to contentment.

Best nonfiction books of 2020, Topshop

Brilliant - thoughtful and funny

Dolly Alderton

Hailed as a manifesto for modern women ... packed with her trademark wit, wisdom and philosophical references (if you know her, you know), this book is the opposite of doom and gloom. Instead, her judgement free observations are reassuring, comforting and wholeheartedly uplifting.

Marie Claire

Discover more

Pandora Sykes Q&A

The co-host of The High Low and author of How Do We Know We're Doing It Right? discusses modern life, millenials and motherhood.