Book Review: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Reasons to Stay Alive
by Matt Haig

Publication date: 31st December 2015
Publisher: Canongate Books
Pages: 272


Like nearly one in five people, Matt Haig suffers from depression. Reasons to Stay Alive is Haig’s inspiring account of how, minute by minute and day by day, he overcame the disease with the help of reading, writing, and the love of his parents and his girlfriend (now wife), Andrea. Eventually, he learned to appreciate life all the more for it.

Everyone’s lives are touched by mental illness; if we do not suffer from it ourselves, we have a friend or loved one who does. Haig’s frankness about his experiences is both inspiring to those who feel daunted by depression and illuminating to those who are mystified by it. Above all, his humor and encouragement never let us lose sight of hope. Speaking as his present self to his former self in the depths of depression, Haig is adamant that the oldest cliché is the truest—there is light at the end of the tunnel. He teaches us to celebrate the small joys and moments of peace that life brings and reminds us that there are always reasons to stay alive.

Source: Goodreads


I came across this book having finished Matt Haig‘s “The Humans” as I enjoyed the author’s style of writing. I finished this book in a day. Short and sweet, “Reasons to Stay Alive” is the non-fiction story of Haig’s battle with depression and anxiety.

Not having any experience of these illnesses myself, I felt as though I wasn’t the book’s target audience and struggled to connect with most chapters. Part memoir, part self help, it would be a fantastic read for someone trying to help out a friend or loved one. That said, it was a fascinating insight into illnesses I know very little about and is an informative read into the reality of so many people’s minds.

While the majority of the book is about the author’s struggle with depression and is a little repetitive in places, there are some other sections looking at mindfulness in general, our outlook on life and how we communicate with one another. There is a chapter towards the end of the book about time and how we use it which I particularly enjoyed and  I can see how this book could be valuable for a lot of people.

“If we are tired or hungry or hungover, we are likely to be in a bad mood. That bad mood is therefore not really us. To believe in the things we feel at that point is wrong, because those feelings would disappear with food or sleep.”

Haig writes well, you feel immersed into what he is explaining without feeling overwhelmed. As with “The Humans” there are many lines I could read over and over again and leaves you with something to think about.

“Books are possibilities. They are escape routes. They give you options when you have none. Each one can be a home for an uprooted mind.”

Overall rating: A quick, enjoyable read which I hope can remind those in need that they are not alone in feeling how they do. As an important account of one young man’s struggle with mental illness, this is not something I can 100% relate with, yet “Reasons to Stay Alive” is beautifully written with inspirational quotes on every page and I’m giving it 3 stars.

See my other reviews of books by Matt Haig here:

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

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