Book Review: A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt HaigAuthor:  Matt Haig

Genre: MG, Christmas

Publisher: Canongate Books

Publication Date: November 12, 2015

272 pages, hardcover

With illustrations by: Chris Mould

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Did you read up there where it says “Matt Haig”? You did? Have you ever visited my blog before? You have? Good, then you know how much I love that author. I pretty much mention one of his books every opportunity I can. Meaning I really don’t even have to do this review, right? You just KNOW I loved it. Actually, no. Any opportunity I can to word vomit my love for Matt Haig’s books is an opportunity I take.

You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.
It is a story that proves that nothing is impossible.
If you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. It is most certainly not for you.
Because this book is FULL of impossible things.

I adored this book. It’s the story of Nikolas, an 11-year-old boy who goes on the adventure of a lifetime. It’s full of magic and elves and pixies and snow. It was the perfect book to read to get me into the Christmas spirit. I’m one of those people who can’t listen to Christmas music until AFTER Thanksgiving, but this book just filled me with cheer and joy.

Nikolas was a poor, skinny boy who ventured north in search of his father, who’d gone off to find the city of elves. There is some sadness here, but there’s also joy and kindness, laughter and even some silly dancing. Gasp! It’s a beautiful story. Just an little tip: this would be a perfect Christmas gift!

The illustrations are amazing as well, the perfect touch. Here’s a few examples that Matt tweeted out:

The bottom line: Yet another book to add to my ever-growing Matt Haig obsession er…love. A perfect book to read with your kids at Christmas or with yourself to get you into the Christmas spirit. It’s fun and magical, and I loved it. It gives you that perfect sitting-in-front-of-the-fire-with-hot-chocolate feeling.

Shout out to the lovely people at Canongate Books for this copy! (Note: this did not sway my review in any way. You know it was already glowing because it’s Matt Haig)

Book Review: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive is beautiful, open, honest, genuine, brave, and hopeful. It should be read by everyoneReasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haigif you’ve been depressed, are depressed, know someone who is/has been depressed. Honestly, if you are alive, this book is for you.

Author:  Matt Haig

Genre: Autobiography, memoir

Publisher: Canongate Books

Publication Date: March 5, 2015

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Have you ever had a book that you were simultaneously unable to wait for and very scared of reading? That was Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive [Matt is the author of The Humans, which you should ALL know by now that I LOVE].  I’m sure you can tell from the title a little of what it’s about, and you may or may not have been able to guess why I was nervous to read it if you’re a regular reader of my blog. I have never said this outright on my blog, but I am depressed. I have depression. I am a depressive. Do you know how terrified I am to say that on my blog? Petrified. But I’m going to say it because it will make it that much more clear why I needed and appreciated this book. From the very moment I heard about it, I needed it. And thankfully, because I interned at the amazing Canongate Books a couple of years ago, I was able to get an early, digital copy of this one and didn’t have to wait the several weeks it’s going to take for my UK pre-order to get here (though I’m still quite looking forward to my physical copy).

I read this entire book in roughly 4.5 hours. I devoured it. I also cried more than I have probably EVER cried while reading a book. But I also smiled. Maybe not a lot, but it happened. The synopsis says “It’s also an upbeat, joyous and very funny exploration of how to live better, love better, read better and feel more.” I was pleased to find that to be very true. I felt a lot reading this book. I like that Matt mentioned that not everyone’s depression is the same, that you can be both happy and sad at the same time (“just as you can be a sober alcoholic”), and how most people will not be able to see it:

To other people, it sometimes seems like nothing at all. You are walking around with your head on fire and no one can see the flames.

My heart pounded so HARD in my chest practically the entire time I was reading, just as it is beating hard just writing this all down.

Reasons this book made me cry:

– My own sadness and depression
– Matt’s battle with depression
– The feeling that someone could so completely understand me
– The fact that I HATE that I could relate to so much of the book
– The fact that I DON’T WANT to relate to any of it
– The “My Symptoms” section – I related to so many of these that it was a little horrifying. One of them – “A sense of being disconnected, of being a cut-out from another reality”
– “You are on guard to the point of collapse every single moment, while desperately trying to keep afloat, to breathe the air that the people on the bank all around you are breathing as easily as anything.”
– “Minds have their own weather systems. You are in a hurricane. Hurricanes run out of energy eventually. Hold on.”

Matt said at one point he hoped someone else would read his words and that maybe the pain he felt wasn’t for nothing. I know it wasn’t for nothing, but THANK YOU, Matt, for writing this book, for being brave and open and honest, for showing me I wasn’t alone no matter what the depression told me, for telling me that life will wait for me, for The Humans, for all of your words, for being alive.

Let’s get down to the bottom line, shall we? Read this book. Read this book because you have emotions and hopes and feelings. Read this book because you are human and because you are alive. Read this book to live. Reasons to Stay Alive is a celebration of life, books, words, and humanity.

Rating: Honestly, this book defies ratings. How can you rate a book like this? However, I’m sure you can tell that this book will occupy my favorites shelf right next to The Humans forever.

Waiting on Wednesday: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

Publisher: Canongate Books

Author: Matt Haig

Release date: March 5, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads:

‘I want life.
I want to read it and write it and feel it and live it.
I want, for as much of the time as possible in this blink-of-an-eye existence we have, to feel all that can be felt.
I hate depression. I am scared of it. Terrified, in fact. But at the same time, it has made me who I am. And if – for me – it is the price of feeling life, it’s a price always worth paying’

Reasons to Stay Alive is about making the most of your time on earth. In the western world the suicide rate is highest amongst men under the age of 35. Matt Haig could have added to that statistic when, aged 24, he found himself staring at a cliff-edge about to jump off. This is the story of why he didn’t, how he recovered and learned to live with anxiety and depression. It’s also an upbeat, joyous and very funny exploration of how live better, love better, read better and feel more.

Why I’m excited: Words can’t describe how excited I am for this book. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know how much I love Matt Haig’s book The Humans. I love it with my entire being. “Reasons to Stay Alive” is a few page chapter from that book. The Humans was Matt’s reaction to his depression at the age I currently am. I honestly don’t know what to type here. I have too many emotions swirling around inside me right now. Let’s just say that I need this book. Note that I didn’t say “want” but rather “need”. I’ll be paying international shipping and everything. I don’t care how much it costs. March can’t come soon enough.

What are you waiting on today?

 

Life of a Blogger: School

Life of a Blogger is a weekly meme hosted by The Novel Heartbeat. You can see the full list of topics HERE.

This week’s theme is school.

(There’s lots of links because I want everyone to know about these things. Haha)

I won’t go into discussing my high school, other than to tell you I graduated with only 68 other people and I was third in my class.

For college, I attended Mississippi University for Women (hence the “W Blogger” badge on the side of my blog). I was a member of the residential honors college and received a full scholarship to the school! MUW is located in Columbus, MS, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. I love that school. At “the W”, I was a member of the Revelers, one of several social clubs unique to the W’s campus. The Revelers are my family, forever, and I’ve met some of my best friends through my club.

We like to have fun. :)

Revelers like to have fun. 🙂

Love my Revelers

Love my Revelers

While at the W, I majored in English and minored in Spanish. As part of the residential honors program, I studied abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland for a month after my sophomore year. Because of my job in the honors college, I was able to do it again after my junior year as a mentor. This is when I met and interviewed Ian Rankin for my honors thesis (which was published).

Me with the lovely Ian Rankin

I graduated Magna Cum Laude and received the MUW Spirit Award (I seriously love that school!). I could go on and on about all the things I did while at the W and how much I love that school, but I’ll leave it at that.

I will say that it was because of the W that I studied abroad in Scotland, obviously, and it was because of my time studying abroad that I chose to attend the University of Stirling in Scotland to pursue my Master’s degree in Publishing Studies. I freaking loved this program (MLitt in Publishing Studies). Through this program, I found out about Bloody Scotland; its inaugural year was 2012, which is when I moved over to Scotland. I volunteered that first year and then went back in 2013 as the Volunteer Coordinator.

My 2012 Bloody Scotland program, signed by 24 amazing authors

My 2012 Bloody Scotland program, signed by 24 amazing authors

I also interned at Freight Books and Pitch Publishing after meeting the owners through my program; each Thursday we had a publishing professional come talk to us about different aspects of the publishing industry (how cool is that?!). My dissertation was on the UNESCO Cities of Literature, and I was able to intern at the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature (the world’s first City of Literature!). AND I interned at Canongate Books in the publicity department last summer, which is probably my favorite internship so far. In addition to my internships, I took classes on marketing, design, and editorial practice. I created content for, designed, and wrote a marketing plan for my publishing project, a 16 pages sample of a magazine I created. That was super fun!

This is the cover of my magazine, titled 808 Magazine

This is the cover of my magazine, titled 808 Magazine

I gained so much experience and had so many amazing opportunities during my program, and I got to live in Scotland for a year! I definitely don’t regret choosing this school.

What about you? Where did/do you go for school? Tell me in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: Freebie – Books by British Authors Americans Should Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten Tuesday Freebie! Pick your own topic!

So I spent a year living in Scotland pursuing my Master’s degree and while there I interned at several publishers and worked at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, so it’s safe to say that I read a lot of books. There are a bunch of British authors that I wish more Americans would read, and I thought it’d be awesome to use this freebie topic to showcase the Top Ten Books by British Authors I Wish More Americans Would Read. 🙂 A lot of them will probably be repeats from other TTTs, but that should show you how much I love them.

*All covers linked up to their corresponding Goodreads page.

1. Anything by Ian Rankin (start with The Falls if you want to try him, which I think everyone should)

The Falls

2. The Humans by Matt Haig (I’ve mentioned this book several times on my blog. READ IT!)

The Humans

3. Grow Up and Lolito by Ben Brooks

Lolito

4. The Universe versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

The Universe versus Alex Woods

5. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (I’ve mentioned this one a few times, too, but it’s beautiful and deserves the attention)

A Monster Calls

6. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman (This book is a retelling of the story of Christ. It was fascinating and unique; a quick read)

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

7. Laidlaw by William McIlvanney (okay, I’m sure a lot of people have read this, but maybe not so many people my age; this book has been cited by a lot of crime fiction authors as the foundation of crime fiction in the UK. Plus William McIlvanney is one of the coolest guys I’ve ever met)

Laidlaw

8. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

9. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner

10. Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (you know the story, but how many of you have actually read it?)

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Bonus:

Okay, he’s from New Zealand, but I read it while I was in Scotland: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison

the rosie project

 

Okay. So there are ten British books I think you should read. What did you do for TTT’s freebie topic? Link me to it below!