The Truth Pixie – by Matt Haig

25 10 2018

Yes it’s a children’s book.
No I didn’t choose it to get my book total up this year, that was just a handy coincidence.

If you’ve followed these posts for a while you’ll know I’m a bit of a Matt Haig fan, so when he said he’d written a book that was a bit like a Reasons to Stay Alive for kids, I thought I had to give it a try.

At a little over 100 pages, but only a couple of lines a page, it’s definitely a one-sitting read, and very easy, but teaches some really important points to kids. I’ve put some of my favourite bits below.

  • “There will be people you love, who can’t stay forever,
    And there will be things you can’t fix, although you are clever.”
  • “As the dark in the sky makes the starts shine brighter,
    You will find the bad stuff has good bits too
    The bad days are the days that make you you.”
  • “You’ll never know happy unless you know sad.”
  • “Yes, the night has dark bits, but it has stars too,
    And you’ll feel when they shine, that they shine just for you.
    You will step outside, and see from the park
    That the light is brighter when it’s next to the dark.”
  • “If everything was perfect, every single day,
    You’d never know the good from the just-about-okay.”

He has a very good way with words – if you enjoy this stuff, please can I recommend his twitter and instagram accounts!

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Notes on a Nervous Planet – by Matt Haig

19 07 2018

This is the fourth Matt Haig book I’ve read, but only the second non-fiction. The author describes this book not as a sort of follow on to Reasons to Stay Alive, which was a look at his journey through anxiety and depression, (but is nowhere near as miserable as that sounds!).

This book looks more at the state of our society and all the stress we deal with. But again, it’s not miserable, yes some bits are a bit low, but so much of it is uplifting and helpful. The chapters are very short (one is only about 5 words!) which makes it very easy to read. It’s the only non-fiction I fly through!

Normally when I read Matt Haig’s books, I fold down the corners of pages I want to go back to to put quotes on here, but there just wasn’t any point with this book as I would have folded down most page corners, (like I did in Reasons to Stay Alive) and this blog would be 300 pages long!

All I will say is, please read Reasons to Stay Alive and please read this book, they’re good for you! This has highlighted things I will change to try and help myself!





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:

    Skyscrapers

    I
    Like
    The way
    That when you
    Tilt
    Poems
    On their side
    They
    Look like
    Miniature
    Cities
    From
    A long way
    Away.
    Skyscrapers
    Made out
    Of words.





The Humans – by Matt Haig

23 07 2017

Last year I read Reasons to stay alive, and can confidently say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever read. That book was non-fiction, but Matt Haig has mostly written fiction, which is also raved about and so I asked for The Humans for my birthday this year.

I’ve tried to explain the premise to a few people, and haven’t done very well so here goes nothing: One day, Andrew Martin manages to prove the Riemann Hypothesis and some aliens on another planet, believing that this is a threat to the cosmos, send one of their kind down to earth to destroy this man and anyone else he might have told. Cheery so far, right? So this alien goes down, Andrew is destroyed and the alien takes on the form of Andrew Martin, and seeks to determine what his wife and son know, and who else Andrew might have told, with the intent of destroying all who are aware so that this never gets out.

But in a way, that’s not the point of the book. This is a creature experiencing humans for the first time. He’s learnt about them in theory, but in practice there seems to be a lot more to them, and he’s keen to spend a bit longer working this out before completing his mission. It’s a reflection on us as creatures, which in some places makes you think, and in others is downright hilarious!

As is often the case with this sort of book, I ended up folding down a lot of page corners, and so some of my favourite quotes are below:

  • “It was comforting to know that even in the most remote corner of the universe the laws of sound and light obeyed themselves, although it has to be said they seemed a little more lacklustre here.”
  • “They placed me inside a small room that was, in perfect accord with all human rooms, a shrine to the rectangle.”
  • “Indeed, it is mathematics itself which is the bedrock of civilisation.”
  • “If God exists then what is He but a mathematician?”
  • “A prime number is strong. It does not depend on others.”
  • “I don’t have a name. Names are a symptom of a species which values the individual self above the collective good.”
  • “It was then that I realised the one thing worse than having a dog hate you is having a dog love you.”
  • “Listening to music, I realised, was simply the pleasure of counting without realising you were counting.”
  • “I was still ‘recovering’, you see. Recover. The most human of words, the implication being that healthy normal life is covering something.”
  • “Our beautiful, warless world, where I could be entranced by the purest mathematics for all eternity.”
  • “Overall, the sensation I was feeling was one of conscious decay. In short, I felt human.”
  • “Mornings were hard on Earth. You woke up tireder than when you went to sleep.”
  • “She knew one day her husband would die and yet she still dared to love him. That was an amazing thing.”
  • “Crossing [the road] at an angle that tried to balance the concealment of fear with rapid avoidance – that angle being, as it was everywhere in the universe, 48 degrees away from the straight line on which we had been travelling.”
  • “Whatever it is, you’re becoming a man of honour. And that’s rare for mathematicians.”
  • “The ‘pub’ was an invention of humans living in England, designed as a compensation for the fact that they were humans living in England. I rather liked the place.”
  • I wanted to put the whole preface down but realised that might be bordering on copyright infringement so I’ll let you find that for yourselves in a shop or library!

    There is also a chapter called “Advice for a human”, but given that that contains 97 points I’ll again leave that for you to discover yourself!

    (If it wasn’t clear from the above – I thought this book was brilliant and already have a list of people I want to lend it to!)





Reasons to stay alive – by Matt Haig

17 03 2016

This book is brilliant, everyone should read it, it should maybe even be on the National Curriculum.

I believed this before I even read it. The quotes on the front, back, and inside covers set the bar very high indeed – here are a couple of my favourites:

  • “Brilliant … should be on prescription” – Rev Richard Coles
  • “A small masterpiece that might even save lives” – Joanna Lumley

And they’re correct. Technically an autobiography, we travel with Matt Haig through his experience of anxiety and depression, through five sections: “Falling”, “Landing”, “Rising”, “Living” and “Being”.

One of my favourite things about the book is that I don’t think there was a chapter longer than 6 pages, and most chapters were 1-4 pages – it’s well and truly bite-size, which is handy for something that while massively educational for some, has the risk of being triggering for others. It’s not a long book either – it’s quite small in size, well spaced, and only ~250 pages, so really not too intimidating. For what can be a very heavy subject, it’s broken down brilliantly.

For me this book had two very different sides to it. I’ve said before that I have anxiety disorder, and so for that section of the book, I was reading him put into words things I’ve felt but never been able to explain, and just reading about others that have the same struggles is encouraging in knowing you’re not alone. The other half, depression, I have friends that struggle with this, but don’t know a tonne about it myself, and so for this side of the story, it was hugely educational. As someone experienced, and someone clueless, this book had something to say to me.

Some chapters are simply lists: How to be there for someone with depression or anxiety, Things that (sometimes) make me better, and of course, Reasons to stay alive, among many others. There’s also a further reading list at the back.

I’ve put some of my favourite nuggets below, but please please read this book.

  • “Doubts are like swallows. They follow each other and swarm together.”
  • “Adding anxiety to depression is a bit like adding cocaine to alcohol. It presses fast-forward on the whole experience. If you have depression on its own your mind sinks into a swamp and loses momentum, but with anxiety in the cocktail, the swamp is still a swamp but the swamp now has whirlpools in it.”
  • “If pills work for you it doesn’t really matter if this is to do with serotonin or another process or anything else – keep taking them. If licking wallpaper does it for you, do that. I am not anti pill. I am pro anything that works.”
  • “When every bit of you is panicking, then walking is better than standing.”
  • “I was starting to find that, sometimes, simply doing something that I had dreaded – and surviving – was the best kind of therapy.”
  • “I have been ill before, then well again. Wellness is possible.”
  • “Depression is smaller than you. […] It operates within you, you do not operate within it. [..] You were there before it. And the cloud can’t exist without the sky, but the sky can exist without the cloud.
  • “To panic without a reason, that’s madness. To panic with a reason, that’s sanity.”
  • “We cannot save ourselves from suffering by buying a [expensive gadget]. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t buy one, it just means we should know such things are not ends in themselves.”
  • “Just as none of us are 100% physically healthy no one is 100$ mentally healthy. We are all on a scale.”

reasons to stay alive





30 before 30 – the results

8 06 2018

Just after my 29th birthday I wrote a list of 30 things to do before I’m 30. I’m pretty pleased with how I’ve done, I knew it’d never get all done, but it’s really pushed me to do some new things this year! You’ll notice the list below is changed a bit from the original list – I reviewed it a month or two ago to try and make some of them a little more achievable, but it hasn’t helped much.
And yes I’m counting a book I finished this morning because I’m not fully 30 until 4.45pm!

I think it might be interesting to see how many more I can complete before I finish being 30…
Anyway, results below!

  1. Buy my own home. COMPLETED 15th September 2016
  2. Climb a mountain. COMPLETED 26th May 2018
  3. Dye my hair.
  4. Fundraise £300 for a good cause.
  5. Get below 10 stone.
  6. Get my next photobook printed.
  7. Give Blood. COMPLETED 23rd October 2017
  8. Have a go on a cello.
  9. Have a meal at the Hand and Flowers. COMPLETED 21st October 2017
  10. Have a pedicure. COMPLETED 26th August 2017
  11. Learn all the countries of the world and complete the Sporcle quiz.
  12. Learn how to curl my hair.
  13. Re-learn how to do the rubiks cube. COMPLETED 16th July 2017
  14. Re-learn the sign language I learnt 4 years ago and have forgotten.
  15. Try coming off my anti-depressants. – DOSAGE REDUCED
  16. Visit NYC, Disneyland Paris or Iceland. – COMPLETED March 2018
  17. Watch a Shakespeare play at the Globe Theatre. – COMPLETED 8th May 2018
  18. Watch Friends all the way through.
  19. Learn 3 new pieces on the piano.
  20. Sew 3 items. – TWO DONE
  21. Read 30 books.
    1. Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley COMPLETED 28th June 2017
    2. Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld COMPLETED 11th July 2017
    3. The Humans by Matt Haig COMPLETED 23rd July 2017
    4. Spectacles by Sue Perkins COMPLETED 31st July 2017
    5. The Know-It-All by A J Jacobs COMPLETED 28th July 2017
    6. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae COMPLETED 30th August 2017
    7. Salty Sam and the Windy Day by Christina Sinclair COMPLETED 30th August 2017
    8. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler COMPLETED 30th August 2017
    9. The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory COMPLETED 6th September 2017
    10. Remember, Remember (the fifth of November) by Judy Parkinson COMPLETED 11th September 2017
    11. The House of New Beginnings by Lucy Diamond COMPLETED 25th September 2017
    12. A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis COMPLETED 5th October 2017
    13. Anne of Windy Willows by L M Montgomery COMPLETED 28th October 2017
    14. How to Stop Time by Matt Haig COMPLETED 2nd December 2017
    15. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens COMPLETED 31st December 2017
    16. Some Kind Of Wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher COMPLETED 6th January 2018
    17. The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year by Sue Townsend COMPLETED 21st January 2018
    18. Brain Freeze by Tom Fletcher COMPLETED 28th February 2018
    19. How Not To Be Wrong – The Hidden Maths Of Everyday Life by Jordan Ellenberg COMPLETED 30th March 2018
    20. Still Me by Jojo Moyes COMPLETED 5th April 2018
    21. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman COMPLETED 19th April 2018
    22. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett ABANDONED 6th May 2018
    23. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood COMPLETED 22nd May 2018
    24. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer COMPLETED 8th June 2018
    25. Something by Jane Austen
  22. Get meals I’m confident to cook up to 30. (not including things you just put in the oven or microwave….)
    1. Spaghetti Bolognaise
    2. Chilli Con Carne
    3. The Bacon Dinner
    4. Sausage Casserole
    5. Shepherds Pie
    6. Tuna/Vegetable Pasta Bake
    7. Fish Burger
    8. Peach and Chick Pea Curry
    9. Roast Chicken
    10. Toad in the Hole
    11. Lasagne
    12. Risotto
    13. Beef Stroganoff
    14. Chicken Curry
    15. Kedgeree
    16. Fish Pie
  23. Get things I’m confident to bake up to 10.
    1. Victoria Sponge
    2. Chocolate and Banana loaf cake
    3. Cheesecake
    4. Brownie
    5. Blondie
    6. Flapjack
  24. Learn 30 bible verses by heart. 0/30
  25. Write 3 handwritten letters to friends. 1/3
  26. Write 3 letters to MP or organisations about ethical issues. 0/3
  27. Write 3 prayers. 0/3
  28. Get the Eurostar somewhere COMPLETED 9th December 2017
  29. Learn pi to 30 decimal places. 27/30
  30. Go to a Ballet COMPLETED 30th December 2017




Internet highlights – w/c 31st December 2017

6 01 2018

“I am feeling quite good today. Quite good is way better than excellent. Excellent is scary. Aim for beige emotions.” – Matt Haig.

This guy knits jumpers of the places he’s going to wear when he’s there.

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Internet highlights – w/c 2nd December 2018

8 12 2018

Moments of joy from The Office US.

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Internet highlights – w/c 25th November 2018

1 12 2018

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Internet Highlights – w/c 18th November 2018

24 11 2018

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