Book of the Week: Notes on a Nervous Planet

“Happiness is not good for the economy. 
We are encouraged, continually, to be a little bit dissatisfied with ourselves.” 
― Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet

Matt Haig is a brilliant writer. His books, both his fictions and non-fictions, are food for the soul, packed full of warmth and wisdom. I’ve been a big fan of his work for years, so much so that I went to see him do a Q&A in Waterstones a few years ago. At the end we all queued up to meet him and have our books signed. It was a hot July evening, we were upstairs on the first floor and I was sweltering. When I got to the front of the queue he asked how I was and I replied, without thinking, to my horror, “Oh you know, tired!”
“Sorry you had to wait..” he politely replied.
Me, still not engaging my brain: “Oh no no worries! Not as tired as you must be!”

Notes on a Nervous Planet is an important and necessary book for this digitally obsessed age. Haig answers questions like:
⁃ How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad?
⁃ How do we stay human in a technological world?
⁃ How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious?

The book is made up of concise chapters and many lists, similar to his previous non-fiction, Reasons to Stay Alive. I love this writing style, as it’s straight to the point and means I can dip in and out on days when I’ve very little time to read. (Most days).
What comes across most for me in this book, is Haig’s authenticity. He writes from his own experiences, his own scars, almost as if to clarify things for himself, so the outcome is both personal and incredibly helpful. A beautiful, thought-provoking, perspective-shifting book, I’d recommend this to everyone, regardless of how much time you spend online.

“To enjoy life, we might have to stop thinking about what we will never be able to read and watch and say and do, and start to think of how to enjoy the world within our boundaries. To live on a human scale. To focus on the few things we can do, rather than the millions of things we can’t. To not crave parallel lives. To find a smaller mathematics. To be a proud and singular one. An indivisible prime.” 
― Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet

“The world exists in you. Your experience of the world isn’t this objective unchangeable thing called ‘The World’. No. Your experience of the world is your interaction with it, your interpretation of it. To a certain degree we all make our own worlds. We read it in our own way. But also: we can, to a degree, choose what to read. We have to work out what about the world makes us feel sad or scared or confused or ill or calm or happy.” 
― Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet


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