Book Review: Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig - Header

Anorexia has destroyed my life. It has taken every negative trait you can think of: depression, OCD, aniexty, PTSD, body dysmorphia and rolled them all into one nice neat package. It has torn my life apart, convinced me I was to become a chef before laughing me out of the kitchen, made me exercise when my body screamed no, and even driven me closer to the point of suicide than I ever want to go.

Books - Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

However, even with all the negative aspects it has forced upon me, there has been one, tiny, positive. It has given me a joy of reading. For whatever reason, whether directly or indirectly it has given my life a world of books and words and literature that never existed before, and I hope never leaves. As a result of this new found love I have 31 years of catching up to do. I just want to read and not stop. Any source of potential wordplay is a source for the next book to read. Obviously there are books I want to read, source material to films I want to compare and an instant draw to anything connected to mental health, but right now I’m just happy to say I read rather than what I read.

They say never judge a book by it’s cover, but any book called Reasons To Stay Alive is going to grab your attention. Especially when anorexia forced you so low you’ve put a rope around your neck. And so, Matt Haig’s part autobiographical part self help book about his own battles, his own depression and what it means to be alive was always going to find it’s way quickly to the top of my “To Read” pile.

Depression - Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Depression and anything that associates with it have one obvious calling card, isolation. They make you think that you are the only person to feel, perceive, question life in a specific way. I know I have been through times when I’ve wondered exactly why my life is messed up compared to everyone else’s. Why I am the only person who feels this pain? And so, as I started reading the book, and Haig was describing his own depression, his thoughts and events, so much connected. His outlook and reasons, his musings of why, all echoing things I’ve discussed in my own head. There were passages of the book that felt almost too close to home to be comfortable, and yet, at the same time welcome. Good to know that the world as a whole thinks these thoughts. A problem shared is a problem halved.

The book in parts got into my soul and lifted me up. Gave me hope, made me believe that my dreams are not stupid, and that while life may not play out the way I plan, that’s the fun, that’s what life means, that’s why we live. It’s easier said than done though. They are just words, the clock still ticks by as I read them, and sadly, for every part that was almost therapeutically uplifting, there are parts that feel strange and rushed. It’s written in short concise chapters and at times they seem to shift on a tangent that didn’t feel connected and I would lose slight interest in the book. Almost becoming confused as to what I want meant to be taking from the story. It’s almost like Haig was narrating the thoughts in his head as they came without at times filtering them into the bigger picture. You’d suddenly get a reflective outlook following a scientific dissection or a random list straight away an anecdotal joke.

Twitter - Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

I really did enjoy the book but it never quite had me constantly engrossed, turning page after page. I found the story engaging, moving and even at times spooky. I follow Matt Haig on Twitter, and one night he posted the exact passage of the book I’d literally just finished reading, before I sat down the next day to find my morning breakfast was eaten while reading about an event that took place 18 years before, to the day, literally, Tuesday 17th March!

Boiling it all down, I read the book because the title grabbed me and the content connected to my own personal experiences and passions, and therefore, I enjoyed it. I’m not convinced that somebody with less passion or personal leanings towards a melancholic biography would get quite as much from it as I did, but I am certain that it will open a few eyes, and help educate a few people, because whatever criticism you can throw at it regarding structure or language, at its heart is one of the most honest and truthfully looks deep inside somebody you’re likely to read. And I thank Matt Haig for having the guts to write it.

Posted on by 5WC in Book First Edition

Comments are closed.