Review: Notes On A Nervous Planet by Matt Haig. *

[Gifted/AD: This was sent to me by Canongate in exchange for review; we have previously worked together.]

Notes On A Nervous Planet, a book by Matt Haig, is out today; having been sent a proof copy, at my own request, I thought I’d review it on the blog.


There’s the saying “never judge a book by its cover”, but in this case I think it would be perfectly justified.

Although I was not the biggest fan of the dust jacket-as I think it’s bland-it’s the rainbow hue of the actual book that I liked most. It’s unusual, but because of the colour, it made me smile. It’s also attractive-as in, “oh, that’s unusual, I wonder what that’s about?”


First Impressions:

This book is similar to Haig’s masterpiece, Reasons To Stay Alive, because it is written in the same way. The structure is similar because it’s a collection of fragments-almost thoughts-but as I read the book, I began to think it was better than Reasons To Stay Alive. (More on that later.)

I think that the introduction could have perhaps been sharper, in that in needs to be stronger; it does not really say what the book is about. I found this off-putting at first, but I guess that’s just me-preferring to be told everything in a literal sense, rather than guess what the inference is trying to say.

The book itself:

If Reasons To Stay Alive is the ‘why’, then this is the ‘what’-what needs to be done, what is impacting us, what attitudes about mental health need to change. Now we need a ‘how’-how to change the problems identified by Notes On A Nervous Plane. Perhaps it could be a trilogy?

One of the hypotheses put forward about technology interested me the most. We use the phrase “the rate of technology” a lot, when remarking about its advancement. How do you measure that? Secondly, what is the impact?

My favourite fragment was titled ‘The beach’. I often see a lot of people my age preening and pouting, worried about how they look. Realistically, as The Beach puts it, no one is looking at you anyway; no one gives a damn.

I also like that social media takes a beating-but not in a parental you’re-so-addicted-it’ll-rot-your-brain kind of way. Haig presents his ideas in an interesting manner, constructively arguing his point whilst balancing all viewpoints. Maybe, as a rule of thumb, if it were used for something good, instead of marketing/trolling/advertising, etc, we wouldn’t be in such a mess.


For a long time now, I have been toying with a piece of writing. If you take the phrase “mind over matter” as being true, why is it we deny this? I think that, particularly in terms of the health service, this should be a fundamental base to the way we treat people-medically, physically, in conversation, etc.

This book also has an edge, a more mature voice than Reasons To Stay Alive; it has the substance to its style, with well-informed arguements throughout. I’d go further, and say that it was even better.

Finally, this book reminds me of a Tina Brown quote that I heard in an interview; to paraphrase what she said, at this moment in time, we are stood on the lip of a volcano. The question is, where do we go from that?

Notes On A Nervous Planet is out now. And to see Matt Haig at book events, click here. 


  1. July 8, 2018 / 5:28 pm

    I always wondered what this book was about so thank you for sharing your review! I’ve read Reasons To Stay Alive and really enjoyed it so think I’ll give this one a go sometime. Thank you for sharing your thoughts 💖 xx

    Bexa |

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