Book Review: Reasons to Stay Alive, by Matt Haig

Posted on Wednesday, 27th June 2018

Matt Haig’s book Reasons the Stay Alive, published in 2015 was a number one Sunday Times bestseller.

The book very eloquently describes Matt’s experience of depression and anxiety. I think his honest storytelling is helpful for both people trying to understand it on behalf of loved ones, or experiencing something similar and want to hear that they are not alone.

One of the things that really struck me about this book was how easy I found it to read. It is formed of very digestible short chapters. It made me wonder if this is a representation of how the author often felt when suffering. Only being able to tackle anything in short simple bursts. Equally, I wonder if it is done with the reader in mind. The writing is accessible and manageable, one could pick up and put down the book at regular intervals- an advantage for people struggling with concentration.

As well as Matt giving a very open and honest account of his difficult experience, the book is also full of hope and encouragement. Hope is a key message in the counselling room and I think it’s important to feel that theme in books such as this.

He dedicates several pages dotted throughout the book to conversations between ‘then me’; Matt when he was suffering from his hardest experience of depression, and ‘now me’; the Matt over 10 years on. The hope ‘now me’ gives to ‘then me’ is palpable and I believe it would be comforting in some way to anyone reading it.

The last two pages are entitled ‘Things I have enjoyed since the time I thought I would never enjoy anything again’. Here he simply lists in a seemingly random order, normal, wonderful, ordinary, delightful, everyday things in life. These two pages really touched me and reminded me of how amazing life can be.

This book has been very successful and I think the reason is due to how relatable it is. There is no hint of preaching and no suggestion that Matt understands how everyone feels. He just talks about his experience and shares this and the things that helped him, in the hope that this may help others in some way, as I’m sure it has.

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