Review: Reasons to Stay Alive, Matt Haig

The first book in my Summer Reading List.


Aged 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.

A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth

If you ask me, a book like this has been a long time coming.

Because if there’s one thing we need more of in this world, it’s people talking openly and honestly about mental illness. I’ve said it before, and I’m certain I’ll say it again, but I truly believe that it’s one of the most humanising and cathartic things to do: to try and summarise the immeasurable and unknowable pain of human experience into words. To describe, in short, what cannot be described. To explain what cannot be explained.

Forgive me if I am going a little overboard on the subject, but I’m just trying to put what Matt Haig has done here to scale. In a relatively short amount of words, he covers his own story of depression and anxiety, looks both insightfully and honestly into the way mental illness is frequently viewed and disregarded in current society, and begins an open conversation about mental illness that, I hope, has only just started.

Best of all, Haig shares my sentiments on the power of words. Books saved him, he claims. As did writing. If that’s not a convincing enough testimony then read his words for yourself, and find the power he has planted within them.

Read this if you have ever had any personal encounters with mental illness, and find yourself surprised to find glimpses of your own experiences within Haig’s words. Read this if you have ever, or are currently, trying to care for somebody with a mental illness and see how poetically Haig has tried to describe the experience for you. Perhaps most importantly: read this if you have no, or little, understanding of mental illness. It’s not an easy thing to comprehend, I know. But in terms of a place to start, you could do no better than Reasons to Stay Alive.

Reasons to Stay Alive, then, is honest and raw, funny and sad, enlightening and educational. It’s an easy read, but then again, it isn’t – purely because of the tough content matter and the fact that it so clearly, very important.

Incidentally, Reasons to Stay Alive is EVERYWHERE on social media, and so if you haven’t seen snippets and excerpts from it on your travels then I’d be very surprised. Matt Haig is also very  hilarious and inspiring and very active on Twitter, so he’s definitely worth a follow for that reason alone.

To conclude, I can’t recommend this book enough. Goodness knows it was recommended enough to me. It won’t take long but it will stay with you for long after, of that I am sure. matthaighappiness

One comment

  1. This book is so helpful – I think I will re-read it many times to come. I like the structure of it – autobiography, mixed with research and opinions. I posted a mini-review of it on my own blog today:
    – Judith xx

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