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.