The Comfort Book – Matt Haig

Published By: Canongate
Pages: 272
Date Published: 06/07/2021
Date Read: 07/07/2021

A manual of reflections for an increasingly stressful world.

Nothing is stronger than a small hope that doesn’t give up.

A collection of little islands of hope, The Comfort Book gathers consolations and stories that give us new ways of seeing ourselves and the world.

Matt Haig’s mix of philosophy, memoir, and self-reflection builds on the wisdom of philosophers and survivors through the ages, from Marcus Aurelius to Nellie Bly, from Emily Dickinson to James Baldwin.

This is the book to pick up when you need the wisdom of a friend or the comfort of a hug, or just want to celebrate the messy miracle of being alive.

Anyone that knows me knows of my love for Matt Haig and all he does. I don’t want to be one of those people who say I knew him before he became popular…but I’m going to be. I had a number of his books before he became Matt Haig. I mean, he’s always been Matt Haig (well, as far as I’m aware), but the Matt Haig that everyone knows and loves nowadays. And I couldn’t be happier for his success. I own all 11 of his adult fiction and non-fiction books and am gradually collecting his children’s books (even if I am 20+ years older than his intended audience).

Obviously, I think Matt’s fiction books are terrific, but there’s something utterly sublime and comforting about his non-fictions. I read an early review for this book where the reviewer complained that it had no structure or flow or theme and was just a collection of wishy-washy random sayings. But for me, that’s the positive. You don’t need to commit to an entire narrative or keep focussed on who is who and what’s going on and how it’s meant to make you feel. You dip in when you need him (I’m rather pleased with that sentence – Matt, feel free to use that in your publicity!)

Matt could have let his experience of depression turn into anger and a hatred of the world or a negative head space, and I’m sure he still has those days – as do we all. But instead, he’s used his physical and mental survival to help others see the positives in the world. It may seem corny, but he helps us see the light when there’s an overwhelming darkness.

Matt’s first non-fiction book How To Stay Alive came to me during a time of moderate depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts. His next non-fiction book Notes on a Nervous Planet came out seven months after the death of my father at the age of 57, in a time where I struggled to face the world again. And now, The Comfort Book comes at a time where I’m still unemployed eight months after being made redundant, I’m still in a continuous loop of health battles and medical investigations, and when I’m apprehensive about this new normal the world has become.

Matt always seems to know when I need him, whether he is aware of it or not. And I pray he will always be there to offer a helping hand when I need him.

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