What are you most nervous about? Not knowing enough about politics? Your BMI? The number of followers you have on Twitter?
Journalist and author Matt Haig has been churning out incredible books for a long time but after the success of his book Reasons to Stay Alive in the UK, Haig has skyrocketed into the limelight. We’re not alone in our excitement over his latest book Notes on a Nervous Planet – a book for anyone who is struggling to feel happy, human and whole in the twenty-first century.
To feel happy, human and whole in this century sounds like a tall order, beyond the limits of even the most insightful self help guru. But Haig isn’t out to preach or instruct. Instead, he chooses to share his own thoughts and internal struggles, resulting in a book so deeply personal and utterly relatable that readers will feel as though they are not alone in their fears and insecurities. Haig’s honesty and bravery comes across on every page as he delves into what gets under his skin in this Netflix-obsessed, social-media-addicted world.
“I hate the idea of writing self-help books, even though I’ve been told that’s what I’m writing,” says Haig. “I think self-help has the connotation of you having all the answers and you speaking from a mountain top. I’m definitely not doing that. Reasons To Stay Alive was me having an experience of being in a suicidal place and being out of that place but not being in a state of 100% perfect health.”
Haig assures us that, as an obsessed Twitter user, he is most certainly writing from “inside the cyclone”. He wants to assure people that they’re not alone on this nervous planet. He hopes to do his little bit in reaching out to those who feel the same way.
“We all feel obliged to be up to date with the news every hour,” says Haig. “Consuming more information doesn’t make you more proactive … sometimes we get paralysed by the overload of options.”
It makes sense in this age of TV and social media and multiple screens delivering multiple forms of news and entertainment. We are constantly surrounded by information. How do we possibly process it all?
In this follow-up to his number one bestseller Reasons to Stay Alive, Haig delves into how this tech-savvy, social media world is messing with our minds. Rates of stress and anxiety are on the rise and, despite being more connected than ever, many of us feel isolated and alone.
How could we possibly hope to remain sane in today’s day and age? How do we hold onto our humanity as technology quite literally becomes part of us? How do we find that ever-illusive thing called happiness?
We can’t tell you, but perhaps Matt Haig can?
Despite his success, however, Haig feels as if he’s constantly in a race to capture his ideas before they slip away. “I have a lot of ideas and I get bored quite quickly,” he explains. “I’m thinking of all the things I haven’t done, all the ideas I haven’t turned into novels.”
This explains why Haig is able to write so many different kinds of books, making the jump from non-fiction to fiction (How to Stop Time, The Humans) and children’s fiction (The Girl Who Saved Christmas).
Booktopia’s own John Purcell became is quite infatuated with Notes on a Nervous Planet.
“Matt Haig offers no silver bullets to defeat anxiety. If you follow him on social media you’ll know that the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune still assail him every day,” says John. “This book is funny, heart-breaking, heart-mending, warm, insightful, intelligent and full of useful tips on how to navigate our way through life in the 21st century.”
Read John’s full review here.
We discuss all of this and more in our podcast interview with Matt Haig. Listen to the full interview below:
About the Contributor
Bronwyn Eley is new to the book industry, having previously served in the Royal Australian Air Force & even spent some time as a barista until entering the exciting world of Booktopia. Books are her true passion. Bronwyn writes in her spare time, often has her face buried in a book and enjoys keeping fit (which she undoes by eating loads of chocolate) with Martial Arts and personal training. She can't answer what her favourite book is but she has a soft spot for The Host (Stephanie Meyer), Peter Pan (J.M Barrie) & Outlander (Diana Gabaldon). Fantasy, sci-fi and YA make up the majority of her bookshelves.