{Book Review} Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig


This book should be called “Reasons to Love Matt Haig”, because, not only does it offer the reader a stark and honest look into depression, but it also gives him or her some realistic and soul-mending pointers on how to survive. Whether you have battled depression or anxiety, are battling with it, or know someone who is, this book is one of the most sincere attempts to comprehend, recognize, and contend with the killjoy that is depression. Haig does a beautiful job of making the reader feel understood and reminding us that we are not alone, that there is no shame in feeling like shit simply because, and that there is no right answer to the questions that hover around these ailments. He reminds us that what might work for one person might not work for another, and that it is a daunting but worthwhile uphill battle. Not to mention, even when discussing depression, Haig still manages to make me giggle.

Spoiler-free summary:  The story is a somewhat autobiographical account of Haig’s twenties, during which he was living abroad with his girlfriend, enjoying what one might think is a twenty-something’s dream life, but when depression starts to seep its claws into him, it becomes a battle for survival. It’s not your typical survival story or how-to guide, but rather a deeply personal account of his own battle with depression and he copes with it. He explores the dark side of depression and its effects on the human mind, while also sharing his own experiences with his personal demons. He also discusses the little things, the happy things, and the big things that truly give us reason to stay alive. There isn’t really anything to spoil in this story, because it is a story of truth and triumph, even if only in the life of one man, it is bound to inspire many.


What I liked:

  • His Writing style: Haig is a master trapeze artist when it comes to walking the fine line between funny and emotive. In the spans of a single page, he can make you think, cry, and soil yourself laughing, all the while explaining his experiences and sharing his advice in the most realistic and practicable manner. Rather than postulating hackneyed and impractical tips and tricks that are so often found in your run of the mill psycho-babble how-to guides on mental health, he remains genuine, open, and above all, witty.
  • The topics & themes: In a book about depression, one would think that the bulk of it would be “do this, don’t do that; think this, don’t think that; etc.,” but not this one. Haig discusses love, childhood, adulthood, demons, symptoms, death, life, sports, hope, parties, and everything one experiences that affects the way they think, the way their mind works, and the way they suffer depression. There are also many lists, and I love lists.


What I disliked:

  • Length: It was too short. But then again, every book that you can’t get enough of feels too short once you’ve reached the last page.
  • Non-fiction dilemma: I’m not a huge fan of non-fiction, and although I loved the autobiographical style of the book, I still prefer storybooks, because I’m secretly six years old.


Verdict: 4★s!

This book made me snort, sob, and reflect more than any other book I’ve read on the topic of depression. The raw honesty of it is incomparable, and the fact that he was able to see the beauty in life, regardless of the darkness shadowing his view, is inspiring. So, I give this book a deserved and utterly inspired 4★s and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who has, is, or might be dealing with depression. You are not alone.




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