Title: The Midnight Library

Author: Matt Haig

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Canongate

The Blurb

The touching, funny and heartwarming new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of How to Stop Time and Reasons to Stay Alive.

Between life and death there is a library.

When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger.

Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?

The Review

It would be fair to say that I have a complicated relationship with Matt Haig’s writing. I have read a few of his books and whilst I have loved his non-fiction – seriously his perspective on mental health is fascinating and so very helpful – I haven’t really managed to get along too well with his fiction. However, at the insistence of a close friend I gave The Midnight Library a go and I have to admit I really, really liked it.

It is the story of Nora Seed – a young girl whose life doesn’t seem to have lived up to the promises of what life should be and due to that she wants her life to be over. She ends up in a place called The Midnight Library which gives her to opportunity to see how her life would be if she had taken different paths.

Now you could say that this is a trope that has been examined before – most notably in It’s A Wonderful Life – however, Haig has a brilliant way of juxtaposing the weird and wonderful with the ordinary and humdrum and he shows Nora Seed seeing how everyone is impacted by her existence in different forms. What is also great is that The Midnight Library is not twee. It is thoughtful and introspective but inviting and engaging.

Reading The Midnight Library has certainly made me more interested in reading more fiction from Matt Haig.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is available now.

For more information regarding Matt Haig (@matthaig1) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Canongate (@canongatebooks) please visit www.canongate.co.uk.

Title: How to Stop Time

Author: Matt Haig

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Canongate Books

The Blurb

‘I am old. That is the first thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe. If you saw me you would probably think I was about forty, but you would be very wrong.’

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life.

Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him. The only thing Tom mustn’t do is fall in love.


How to Stop Time 
is a wild and bittersweet story about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change and about the lifetimes it can take to really learn how to live.

The Review

How to Stop Time is the story of Tom Hazard, a man with a rare medical condition which means that he ages at a much slower rate than most people. He is over 400 years old and has seen things that people have only read about in books. However, his condition puts I’m in danger – danger from scientists, eugenicists, by people who just couldn’t understand. So whilst Tom tries to hide under the radar – not make friends, not fall in love but this proves impossible when he gets a new job in a secondary school.

How to Stop Time is a time travel novel that meets a historical one. We travel through time with Tom Hazard and we meet a cast of historical figures from Shakespeare to F Scott Fitzgerald. At its heart, it is a story about relationships and how we need to keep people close to use regardless of the cost. 

If I am completely honest I am not a huge fan of fantasy novels and How to Stop Time didn’t float my boat the way I wanted it to. I love Matt Haig’s writing – in particular his non fiction/mental health books so I worry that maybe his fiction is not for me. How to Stop Time is written well but the genre as a whole is one that I tend to avoid.  

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig is available now.

For more information regarding Matt Haig (@MattHaig1) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Canongate Books (@canongatebooks) please visit www.canongate.co.uk.

Title: Notes on a Nervous Planet

Author: Matt Haig

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Canongate Books

The Blurb

The world is messing with our minds.

Rates of stress and anxiety are rising. A fast, nervous planet is creating fast and nervous lives. We are more connected, yet feel more alone. And we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our body mass index.

– How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad?
– How do we stay human in a technological world?
– How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious?

After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him. Notes on a Nervous Planet is a personal and vital look at how to feel happy, human and whole in the twenty-first century.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

There are very few people who are as candid as Matt Haig is about mental health – in particular, his own. Matt Haig has spoken openly about how he has been suicidal, how he has panic attacks, how basic things that people take for granted are like mountains he has to climb on a daily basis. For this, I am grateful to Matt Haig.

As someone who suffers with anxiety, I know how easy it is to become introverted and to shut people out of my life due to my condition. I am lucky in the sense that I know the root of my anxiety and I can adapt my life around it (for full disclosures sake my anxiety centres on my Ulcerative Colitis and the locations of bathroom facilities which has led to a mild form of agoraphobia). However, it is rare that someone will speak so honestly about this unknown.

What is great about Notes on a Nervous Planet is that Matt Haig looks at all the bad aspects of mental health but he celebrates all the good stuff in life. He isn’t saying that by looking at all the greatness that life has to offer will change your anxiety or “fix” you but he is showing that there is a light at the end of the darkness.

Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig is available now.

For more information regarding Matt Haig (@matthaig1) please visit www.matthaig.com.

For more information regarding Canongate Books (@canongatebooks) please visit www.canongate.co.uk.

The Blurb

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FEEL TRULY ALIVE?

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.

‘I wrote this book because the oldest clichés remain the truest. Time heals. The bottom of the valley never provides the clearest view. The tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if we haven’t been able to see it . . . Words, just sometimes, really can set you free.’

The Review

Some books are read for fun, some for education, some of them are read for escapism but then a book like Reasons to Stay Alive comes along and it falls into that elusive category – books you NEED to read. There are people that would question as to why they need to read a memoir. My answer to this is because Reasons to Stay Alive is so much more than a memoir of a person but it is an insight into one of the scariest most heartbreaking illnesses that there is – mental illness.

Now I don’t claim to be an expert on mental illness but I can only go with my own experiences – both as a spectator and (at times) sufferer of panic attacks to know how harrowing it can be. Matt Haig has opened the door to anyone who has no personal knowledge of this chronic condition.

In my own personal case I can justify my panic attacks; mine are down to suffering from Ulcerative Colitis. My IBD closes me off somewhat. Long journeys, walking to the local shops that are literally three minutes away – in fact, travel in general causes a stir in me that I find difficult to control. Going out is like a military operation. Routes are planned ahead with maximum places to stop in mind should my IBD play up. It probably won’t but that doesn’t stop the slow crawl of panic. The reason I am telling you this is because in Haig’s book he wrote my experience. Not something about me but his experience is exactly what I go through on a daily basis. It was eye opening and I felt – for want of a better word – ‘normal.’

The difference between Haig and I is that I know when my brain closes off and I can’t find that ceiling to the panic. Haig, it seems, does not have that luxury. That he deals with mental health issues on such a vast scale (everyday, no less) makes him a superhero in my eyes. Equally, I am eternally grateful to him for writing a book that, without a shadow of a doubt, will help those who read it. It helped me.

Whilst Reasons to Stay Alive is a book about mental health disorders should be depressing it is somewhat ironic that it leaves you feeling upbeat and positive after reading it. Matt Haig, in his almost painful honesty, may have written the book of 2015.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig is available now.

Follow Matt Haig (@matthaig1) on Twitter.

Reasons to Stay Alive