READ. LISTEN. LEARN. LOVE.
REASONS TO STAY ALIVE BY MATT HAIG
This isn't just a personal memoir of how it feels to live with depression, it's a moving, funny, comforting, and encouraging account of how to live better and feel more alive. It's really hard to not fall in love with this book. Everyone has struggles and Matt is able to articulate passionately the journey through despair to how to live feeling more "alive".
People have often read this book in one sitting as it's so engaging and broken down into excerpts interspersed with quotes, rather than long chapters. Take, for example, "Things depression says to you" and #reasonstostayalive, a few pages of tweets to the question "what keeps you going?" from people online who have experience of depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts. And near the end of the book "How to live (forty pieces of advice I feel to be helpful but which I don't always follow)" including "No drug in the universe will make you feel better, at the deepest level, than being kind to other people" and "If someone loves you, let them. Believe in that love. Live for them, even when you feel there is no point."
We love Matt's reflection on why he wrote this book: "I wrote this book because the oldest cliches 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."
It's available on Amazon in Kindle format, paperback, or hardback (the hardcover is beautiful!). See www.matthaig.com for more information and reviews of Matt's books.
THE LAST LECTURE BY
This review comes from Beth Steffens of “Big Little Literature”: Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture wasn’t inspiration or a guide to life. It was humor, heartache, and realism all tied up into many different life lessons, the first of which being: You should read The Last Lecture.
The book isn’t a self-help guide for accomplishing a certain status. It’s about a dying man who is the epitome of living life to the fullest. His storytelling effectively altered how I want to live each day. Randy Pausch was a computer science professor who was asked to give his last lecture, a tradition for instructors at Carnegie Mellon University about to retire. Randy wasn’t about to end his career though. After fighting pancreatic cancer for over a year, he was in the last few months of his life.
When pondering the topic of his lecture, he could think of only one thing to bestow upon his audience: the importance of following your dreams. Randy told the stories of how he used enthusiasm and persistence to achieve all of his childhood dreams and the lessons he learnt from each. From there, he described the magic that you experience when you help others meet their goals as well and his tips on how to live this life best.
“Give yourself permission to dream. Fuel your kids’ dreams too. Once in a while, that might even mean letting them stay up past their bedtimes.” — The Last Lecture.
To read the full review, check out “So Live Your Life”.
NOTES ON A NERVOUS PLANET BY MATT HAIG
The best kind of books are those that open up a hunger in you, one that doesn’t sate until you’re mentally breathless and holding the last page open with wide eyes, ready to see the world anew.
That reaction goes partly against the message of Matt Haig's newest non-fiction, the follow-up to 2015's Reasons To Stay Alive, which we loved (see our review above). His message in this follows the message of mindfulness – to live in the now – with the understanding and non–patronising flow of a man who lives in the Western world, has troubles untangling himself from the internet at times and who doesn’t pretend that he has cracked it either. Haig's is a refreshing take on the genre in the same way that RtSA was, only this time the text is about guiding you through life one step at a time.
This book is so full of beautiful passages, hard truths (written softly), And I took a lot of photos of the pages as they came, some for me, some to share with friends gently or teasingly, but every one of the words I read, shared, snapped and loved.
What I particularly enjoyed was the short, snappy style of the chapters. It was great for knowing you could slip a chapter in in a few minutes to yourself and if your attention is waning due to mental health (often the case with me and reading) then it is bitesize. You can read a bit and come back later – which I’m guessing is by design on both counts.
Another thing I love about Haig’s style is that these are not self help books: I cannot abide advice given by people who don’t know me, I find it patronising. Haig, then, is a subtle professor of suggestion, an encouraging voice that doesn’t set you up to fail (but failure is ok). This book was the perfect balm I needed while undergoing eight weeks of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction that have left me more stressed than I began! (But that is a tale for a not-too-distant future!)
Would recommend – will be a permanent fixture on my new bookshelves with very limited space and even better – the hardcover edition has a gorgeous rainbow spine! It's available on Amazon in Kindle format, paperback, or hardback (the hardcover is beautiful!).