People have their favourite bands; their favourite poems; their favourite video game and even their favourite meal. Author’s have the same effect. You can bond with an author on such an extraordinary level that even myself can’t decipher quite how, or why. Take this as an example, you can read a book and become so attached to it and hang on every printed word in front of you. There are novels that are so gripping emotionally that the story stays with you way after you’ve read the last sentence; characters can quite literally turn into role models and influence your life in a multitude of ways. I’ve never been one to look at art, but I suppose it’s like seeing a Picasso and being inspired to explore your own creativity.
I’ve felt these connections many of times, such as John Green’s debut novel Looking For Alaska or Richard McCann’s Just A Boy. I’ve felt them for different reasons, for an example Stephan Chbosky’s Perks Of Being A Wallflower made me read between the lines, forming what felt like an intimate relationship with protagonist Charlie as he dealt with life, friends and relationships. Richard K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? made me question the real world, inspiring me to explore a dystopian future, and lastly George Orwell’s Animal Farm brought on an interest in history, politics and drove me to the famous 1984 that not only rang true to my modern ears, but really drove home my need for a compassionate, free world.
I have read many books that have made me laugh, cry and genuinely ponder on our own lives and worlds. Books that have made me want to try and change society and books that have made me want to fall asleep. I don’t read 24/7, despite my love for hardback covers and fresh smelling pages, but I really connect to the ones I do. I even read Mad Love, a romantic comedy by Nick Spalding, and even though it had long, overused and sometimes too-cheesy-to-laugh-at jokes, it made me realise that there are times when you shouldn’t give up on things – even if that thing annoys the hell out of you.
So, I hear you ask, why have you titled a post about Matt Haig, and not even spoken about Matt Haig? I hear you ask. Here’s the thing, out of all the books I have read in my twenty-two years, in both Welsh and English, I have never come across a more real, relatable and satisfying author than Matt Haig. Sure, I haven’t read all of his books – my count is at three (The Humans, Reasons To Stay Alive and How To Stop Time) – but these three books have been the most beautiful, philosophical and educating journeys I have been through late at night when my eyes are heavy.
I needn’t make a list as to why I think Matt Haig is a brilliant author, not only because you need to experience it for yourself, but because I’ve been the person that’s tweeted him on multiple occasions being a generic fan-girl. But I do want to talk about his motivational and inspiriting novel, Reasons To Stay Alive. Since purchasing, I’ve read it through maybe a little over five times without growing even slightly bored of it. Every new page turn gives me something else to focus on; an emphasis on a message that I didn’t pick up on before.
It’s a non-fiction book, brought to life by the very real mental health issues that Matt Haig faced in his darkest of moments. It’s scary knowing that those feeling’s are very real, and that there are people in this world currently suffering from the kind of anxiety that holds you captive. It’s refreshing, knowing that there is a community of people; advocates using their platforms to share their experience and their recoveries, proving that with the right help that things do get better. That your mental health matters, and while what you’re feeling feels like the worst thing in the world, there is someone who can relate. Being a non-fiction novel, it’s a very personal
look into Haig’s life, but the way he’s touched upon the subject so intimately with compassion and understanding brings a sense of comfort and hope. There was a paragraph, maybe just a sentence, that spoke about the sense of ‘derealisation,’ (a sense of an outer-body-experience) and I’ve felt this symptom a hundred times before, always feeling silly when I mentioned it because there was zero people that had experienced it. Sometimes it feels paranormal and sometimes it genuinely feels like something is wrong with you, but Haig spoke about it matter-of-factly and it brought me such a big sense of comfort because it’s not only me.
The way in which Haig’s describes things such as thoughts, feelings, surroundings and relationships is relatable in so many ways. It doesn’t matter if you’re a teenage boy, a young adult lady, a veteran from war or even an elderly woman spending her free time knitting; there is something, somewhere in his books that while ring true. He has a way of connecting with people he’s never met in such an intimate way, for example the alienated perception of reality that extra-terrestrial Vonnadorian version of Professor Andrew Martin feels as he tries to decipher the human world, or the way Tom Hazard falls in love with Rose during the 1500’s, or the way Haig himself felt the overwhelming sense of anxiety paying for a product at a store. Even if you’ve never felt these emotions, the way Haig writes makes you experience them, connecting you personally with them. Hell, I fell in love with Rose in How To Stop Time, and got protective over Andrew Martin’s son, Gulliver.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that, Matt Haig is a must read author. He has so much to offer, and while he’s such an exceptional and outstanding author, he has a massive respect for his readers that shines through every word. He’s a passionate man, not only in his writing but in his life and his world. He shows an out-of-this-world amount of compassion, talking and fighting for his beliefs for a better, accepting and comfortable world.