Hi everyone! I hope you’re all well. It’s Friday, and time for another review. Today it’s The Comfort Book by Matt Haig.
I’ve been a fan of Matt Haig’s work since I first came across his children’s book ‘A Boy Called Christmas’. At the time, I had been searching for a book that both my nephew and I would find entertaining, and since this one was about Christmas – something we’re both very passionate about – I figured I couldn’t go wrong (it was fantastic by the way and is now a firm favourite).
Since then, I’ve read many of Matt’s other books, including his autobiographical ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ and ‘Notes on a Nervous Planet,’ which are similar to The Comfort Book.
The Comfort Book by Matt Haig was first published in July 2021 by Canongate Books and is 272 pages long.
The Comfort book has no plot; it’s not that sort of book. It’s more of a collection of Matt’s experiences with mental illness, advice and wise passages of hope for anyone feeling anything less than ‘happy’.
There’s really only one character here, and that’s the author. Matt has been very candid about his struggle with poor mental health, specifically anxiety and depression and this sort of honesty and insight can help give others hope. The fact that he appears to be thriving now shows that recovery is possible, even though it may sometimes not feel like it.
The Comfort book is an easy read, and though Some of the chapters or sections are long, many are very short, some even a single line. The great thing is you don’t necessarily have to read the book in any specific order; you can turn to any chapter and read.
The book is full of warm, encouraging messages and advice directly from the author’s heart. He shares analogies which really make you think, such as likening depression to being lost in the woods and learning that, like being lost in the woods, if you keep moving forward in a straight line, you’re likely to get through. I’m paraphrasing, but the gist of the analogy is there. That was my favourite part. It was relatively early in the book – within the first few pages, yet I kept thinking about it throughout. Even though you might feel as lost as anyone could be, if you just keep moving, then you can make it. That’s what I took from it. It has stayed with me.
It’s clear that Matt wants to share all he has learned in his experiences, and it feels like he is reaching out to embrace you to let you know that you are not alone. He explores some of the things that helped him keep moving through life during his darkest moments – times when he was absolutely sure he wouldn’t make it. His effortless conversational style makes you feel as if you’re engaged in an intimate and private chat, wherein you, the reader, feel like you are a trusted confidant.
As well as quotes and tidbits of helpful advice, Matt even includes lists of movies and music that help him when he’s feeling low. In fact, just like ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ and ‘Notes on a Nervous Planet,’ this book gives you a sense of Matt’s personality and the growth he has gone through over the years since he first became ill. And also, like those books, it leaves you feeling that recovery from mental illness is always a work in progress and that there will be days when you won’t feel totally okay, and that’s fine.
The book’s cover initially made me want to read The Comfort Book – and yes, I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but this cover was exceptionally colourful and drew me to it. Then there was the title ‘The Comfort Book.’ It seemed to be calling out to me, telling me it had all the answers to my problems and that it could help me, and while, as so few books do, it didn’t have all the answers, it did have some. And it did offer Comfort in spades. So much so that reading it felt like I was being wrapped in a warm hug.
Through reading this book, I could see in plain black and white that no matter how often I may feel it or how often those pesky, dark babbling thoughts enter my mind, I am absolutely not alone. Seeing it right in front of me that someone has lived through experiences even remotely close to my own causes a sort of internal sigh of relief and a lifting of the weight from my shoulders.
It is a terrific book, and I would recommend it to anyone struggling in any capacity, be it with anxiety, depression, loneliness or even grief.
I give The Comfort Book by Matt Haig 9/10 for all the reasons I mentioned above and more.
Have you read The Comfort Book? Did you enjoy it?
As always, thanks for reading my review! It really does mean the world.
Until next time,
© 2023 GLT
Categories: Book Reviews, Reading
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