Book Review: How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

How to Stop Time
by Matt Haig

Publication date: July 6th 2017
Publisher: Canongate Books
Pages: 336


I am old. That is the first thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe. If you saw me you would probably think I was about forty, but you would be very wrong.

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret.

He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him.

The only thing Tom mustn’t do is fall in love.

How to Stop Time is a wild and bittersweet story about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change and about the lifetimes it can take to really learn how to live.

Source: Goodreads


Matt Haig‘s “How to Stop Time” is definitely going to have to be added to my shelf of keepers. For me that’s a big deal and it says a lot as I only tend to keep the books I truly loved. I’d certainly say that Tom Hazard’s honest story of love, life, history, change and acceptance has truly earned its place.

Tom Hazard is no ordinary man. He’s well over four hundred years old, yet to look at you’d say he was in his early forties. Not immortal, but with an immune system that keeps him healthy and a body that ages at minimal speed, he’s seen a lot in his time. Tom is part of a group of people keeping themselves under-wraps. In order to go undetected, his life changes every 8 years when he is given a new identity in a new location.

“I moved from place to place and from time to time like an arrow immune to gravity.”

The book flicks between past and present as we learn about the adventures Tom has had, the people he has met and the changes he has witnessed. It’s clear that a lot of research has gone into this book, with historical information, facts and figures I’d never known about. Its full of history that you never really think about, let alone the people who were there.

This book was truly exceptional and just like “The Humans” its full of relatable quotes about honesty, love and human nature. Haig’s powerful writing really explores the difference between living and life itself and it really makes you appreciate the people and the things you have.

“his words […] stayed with me for centuries.

People you love never die.”

I was well and truly gripped reading this book and my daily commutes spent reading have flown by this week.

I’ve just read that Benedict Cumberbatch is lined up to star in a film adaptation of this book. He’s certainly not my Tom and I’m not sure how this book can truly be portrayed in film while retaining its beauty. Some things are best left on the page.

While knowledge without integrity is dangerous, integrity without knowledge is weak and useless.”

Overall rating: A powerful book of a man who has lived through years, decades and centuries. He’s seen it all and is only just learning how to live. Flicking between present day and his past, I fell in love with the story of Tom Hazard, its thought provoking quotes and its reflective honesty. Matt Haig‘s “How to Stop Time” is getting five stars from me.

See my other reviews of books by Matt Haig here:

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