Book Review: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Author: Matt Haig

Publisher: Canongate Books

Genre/s: Non-fiction, mental health

I finished reading this for the second time recently, and I honestly don’t remember loving it this much last time. Maybe it’s because it’s more relevant to me at this stage in my life – I’m going through a particularly rough period, so most of Matt Haig’s words resonate with me.

One thing I really appreciate about this book is that it discusses the overlap between depression and anxiety/panic. I’ve never read a book that so accurately describes what it’s like to experience both at the same time. Often, in other books, I’ve seen them described as separate entities, with only a brief mention of them being possible together. I found myself nodding as I read some of the anecdotes from Matt Haig’s life – some of them were almost identical to my own experiences.

The chapters are quite short and easy to digest. Some of them are in list format. This was a really nice touch, because anyone reading this who struggles with concentration or motivation doesn’t have to commit to complex, lengthy chapters. There’s a nice mixture of personal anecdotes, facts, lists and even book recommendations, which, as a reader, I really appreciated.

I enjoyed reading Matt Haig’s views on medication for mental health; I’ve had negative experiences in that area myself, so it’s something I’m interested in. He also had some insightful things to say about the way we live in the modern world, which really got me thinking. One of my favourite quotes from the book is as follows:

The world is increasingly designed to depress us. Happiness isn’t very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more? How do you sell an anti-ageing moisturiser? You make people worry about ageing. How do you get people to vote for a political party? You make them worry about immigration. […] To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act. To be happy with your own non-upgraded existence. To be comfortable with our messy, human selves, would not be good for business.

In one of the chapters, Matt Haig takes to Twitter to ask people their reasons to stay alive and keep fighting. I found this chapter really inspiring and uplifting, so to end this post, I’m going to share my own #reasonstostayalive:

  • My family, close friends, and my other half.
  • My cats.
  • All the books I haven’t read.
  • The words I’ve yet to write.
  • Sunny days.
  • Reading in the garden.
  • Cups of tea.
  • Cuddles.
  • To help others.
  • The places I haven’t been.
  • My dreams.

If you’re struggling, I highly recommend this book if you haven’t read it yet. If anything, it will at least make you feel less alone.


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