How to Stop Time – by Matt Haig

2 12 2017

I tried so hard to wait for paperback but I’ve given in and got the hardback! …and now they’ve brought forward the paperback release date to less than 2 weeks time, but oh well!

So, how to explain this. Tom is 439 years old, but he only looks like he’s in his 40s. He ages about 1 year for every 15 actual years. While this sounds like a bonus it brings it’s troubles. His mother was accused of being a witch (which in those days was a huge deal), and he has to move every 8 years or so because people start to get suspicious as to why he doesn’t seem to age. Many moons ago he had a daughter and while her mother has clearly passed on, she had the same condition and so his focus is on finding her. In the present day he takes a job in a London school to be closer to his roots.

Of course the book jumps around in time quite a bit, from his youth through to the present day, which I think is what slowed me down a bit. Sometimes I only read a page or two at a time, and it takes most of that time to work out where on earth you were last time you picked up the book!

Matt Haig is just a brilliant writer, it took me a while to get into the book, but even when you’re not quite there with the plot yet, he just has some absolute gems of quotes that pop up and keep you going ’til you’re hooked! Some favourites below:

  • “Possibility is everything that has ever happened. The purpose of science is to find out where the limits of possibility end.”
  • “I never tired of the way birds moved when they weren’t in flight It was a series of tableaux rather than continuous movement. Staccato. Stuck moments.”
  • “I am good with pain. Small price to pay for being alive.”
  • “The very reason such music exists is because it is a language that couldn’t be communicated in any other way.”
  • “Don’t hoard [sorrows] like they are precious. There is always plenty of them to go around.”
  • “The main lesson of history is: humans don’t learn from history.”
  • “I have only been alive for four hundred and thirty-nine years, which is of course nowhere near long enough to understand the minimal facial expressions of the average teenage boy.”
  • “There is a crowd. Only this is a twenty-first century crowd, so everyone’s macabre fascination is tempered with at least the semblance of concern.”
  • “Yes, there had been a void inside me, but voids were underrated. Voids were empty of love but also pain.”
  • “Many of us have every material thing we need, so the job of marketing is now to tie the economy to our emotions, to make us feel like we need more by making us want things we never needed before. We are made to feel poor on thirty thousand pounds a year. To feel poorly travelled if we have been to only ten other countries. To feel old if we have a wrinkle.”
  • “It is not bad when you know someone, just when you first meet them.”
  • “She had [a panic attack] on the plane, coming back from Australia, but I hardly even noticed, except she became quite still.”
  • “You have to keep walking forwards. But you don’t always need to look ahead Sometimes you can just look around and be happy right where you are.”
  • And a poem he threw in partway through:


    The way
    That when you
    On their side
    Look like
    A long way
    Made out
    Of words.



One response

8 06 2018
30 before 30 – the results |

[…] How to Stop Time by Matt Haig COMPLETED 2nd December 2017 […]

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