50 Books (4): Reasons to Stay Alive // Matt Haig

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Title: Reasons to Stay Alive

Author: Matt Haig

Outline: Part autobiography, part self-help manual, Reasons to Stay Alive is the story of the author’s ongoing struggle with depression and anxiety, the lessons he has learned and the reasons he has found to fight it. Championed by the likes of Stephen Fry, Michael Palin and Joanna Lumley, it is a short but sweet exploration of mental health and how to carry on during the worst days.

Highlights: It is impossible to come out of reading Reasons to Stay Alive without feeling, as a sufferer, less alone or, as a non-sufferer, more understanding of mental illnesses. This book subtly reminds us to take life step by step, not matter how small those steps might be, by splitting his book into tiny, bitesize sections. Some of the best, most memorable of these are his lists; ‘Reasons to stay alive’, ‘How to be there for someone with depression or anxiety’ and ‘Things that have happened to me that have generated more sympathy than depression’ being just three of the best. Haig’s writing style is also wonderfully comforting; it strikes the perfect balance between a good book and a conversation with an old friend.

Why I Read It: Having been diagnosed with depression at the age of sixteen, the description of Matt’s book told me it was something I needed to read:

“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.”

I wasn’t disappointed. I read Reasons to Stay Alive in one sitting, and I always have it to hand to revisit particularly comforting passages when I’m in need of them.

Rating: 10/10. It takes a great deal for me to give a book a perfect rating, but Reasons to Stay Alive certainly deserves it. Whether you suffer with mental illness, know someone that does or simply want to learn how to live better, Matt’s perfect package of a book will change your life.

Words by Amie Bailey

@amiebailey

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