Author: Matt Haig
Published: 29th January 2019
A follow-up to Matt Haig’s internationally bestselling memoir, Reasons to Stay Alive, a broader look at how modern life feeds our anxiety, and how to live a better life.
The societies we live in are increasingly making our minds ill, making it feel as though the way we live is engineered to make us unhappy. When Matt Haig developed panic disorder, anxiety, and depression as an adult, it took him a long time to work out the ways the external world could impact his mental health in both positive and negative ways. Notes on a Nervous Planet collects his observations, taking a look at how the various social, commercial and technological “advancements” that have created the world we now live in can actually hinder our happiness. Haig examines everything from broader phenomena like inequality, social media, and the news; to things closer to our daily lives, like how we sleep, how we exercise, and even the distinction we draw between our minds and our bodies.
(Taken from Goodreads)
Notes On A Nervous Planet is actually the first book I’ve read by Matt Haig and I still haven’t quite got round to reading the first one, Reasons To Stay Alive (though it’s very high up on my TBR). I was recommended it by my Mum who’d received it for her birthday, and I knew before I’d even picked it up that it would be my sort of book.
What struck me most about the book was the layout – short, digestible chapters, some not even a page long. Haig certainly knows his audience – concentration can often be the first thing to go when someone suffers from a mood or anxiety disorder and this book is perfect for anyone that has developed that symptom. My concentration has got a lot better since I got into regularly reading so I actually read the entire thing in one sitting (always a good sign!) but for those that struggle to retain their attention for longer than a few pages this book is written perfectly. The variety of chapter structures adds to the intrigue and you certainly won’t find yourself wishing it to end (quite the opposite, in fact).
The concept of society’s impact on mental health is something I’m heavily interested in through both my work and my personal life, and Haig offers an in-depth and profound exploration of this through his own experiences and observations. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll most likely find yourself nodding in agreement throughout, and coming to the realisation that the issues you’re worried about are perhaps bigger than you thought.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, as Haig offsets these observations with ways to potentially fix the issues – things we can do both for ourselves and the greater good. Even though it’s not completely structured as one I found Notes On A Nervous Planet to be an excellent read for self-care, due to the suggestions within and the emotions you’ll find yourself going through as you pass from chapter to chapter. Haig’s friendly and inclusive writing style feels like a treat on its own, and I guarantee that once you’ve finished the book your self-care routine will include new additions.
I don’t think there’s actually anything negative I can say about Notes On A Nervous Planet – I couldn’t put it down and it’s the type of book I’d read again if I feel I’ve lost touch and need to focus forward. I’m so excited to read more of his books and see the impact that he has amongst his readers. Whether you’re looking for the science, the solutions, or even just the self-help element, Matt Haig’s writing is something you need in your life.
If you’d like to purchase Notes On A Nervous Planet then you can do so here:
Matt Haig is a British author for children and adults. His memoir Reasons to Stay Alive was a number one bestseller, staying in the British top ten for 46 weeks. His children’s book A Boy Called Christmas was a runaway hit and is translated in over 25 languages. It is being made into a film by Studio Canal and The Guardian called it an ‘instant classic’. His novels for adults include the award-winning The Radleys and The Humans.
He won the TV Book Club ‘book of the series’, and has been shortlisted for a Specsavers National Book Award. The Humans was chosen as a World Book Night title. His children’s novels have won the Smarties Gold Medal, the Blue Peter Book of the Year, been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and nominated for the Carnegie Medal three times.
(Taken from Matt Haig’s website)
Have you read any of Matt Haig’s books before? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like and pin if you enjoyed this review! You can read some of my other non-fiction book reviews here:
Rise, In Pursuit Of Empowerment – Sabine Matharu
The Clouds Beyond Us – Rahf AlRashidi
Culture Smart! Colombia – Kate Cathey