Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Reasons to Stay Alive” as Want to Read:
Reasons to Stay Alive
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Reasons to Stay Alive

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  46,457 ratings  ·  5,520 reviews
I want life. I want to read it and write it and feel it and live it. I want, for as much of the time as possible in this blink-of-an-eye existence we have, to feel all that can be felt. I hate depression. I am scared of it. Terrified, in fact. But at the same time, it has made me who I am. And if - for me - it is the price of feeling life, it's a price always worth paying. ...more
Hardcover, 266 pages
Published March 5th 2015 by Canongate Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  46,457 ratings  ·  5,520 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Reasons to Stay Alive
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Self-Help Readers, Carers, Depressed Readers
FINALLY! A book about depression that makes sense, that those with depression will read and sit nodding their heads and agreeing all the way through it. No psychobabble here (from Psychologists who have never experienced depression) - just real raw telling of Matt Haig's journey with the dreaded black dog. This book should be given or bought by EVERYONE battling depression, or has a loved one battling it. It's everywhere you know.

Matt so simply explains how it feels, he is so darn honest and al
Es Summer
Jun 23, 2016 rated it really liked it

If you are doubting to read this book, read this quote:

"The world is increasingly designed to depress us.
Happiness isn't very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more? How do you sell an anti-ageing moisturizer?
You make someone worry about ageing.
How do you get people to vote for a political party?
You make them worry about immigration.
How do you get them to buy insurance?
By making them worry about everything.
How do you get them to have plastic surger
JV (semi-hiatus)
"I hate depression. I am scared of it. Terrified, in fact. But at the same time, it has made me who I am. And if – for me – it is the price of feeling life, it’s a price always worth paying. I am satisfied just to be."
2018 — The demon came. 'Twas the year I lost a part of myself. My soul wept and mourned for that someone I once truly cherished — the previous me. Looking into the mirror, I saw nothing but hopelessness, worthlessness, and sadness in those eyes — bereft of joy and love. The dem
Cindy Pham
3.5 stars. I think I was expecting the book to be more profound than it actually turned out to be. It's more a series of thoughts and reflections that the author has. I appreciate Haig sharing his struggles with depression and his sensitivity, but I'm not sure if it does much other than being relatable. This might suit better for someone who is starting to understand depression; otherwise, it doesn't add anything new to the conversation we've already been having about mental health.
4.5/5 stars. If you've suffered from depression and/or anxiety yourself at some point in your life or you know someone that has (and it's very likely that you do) this book is an absolute must-read.
Swaroop Kanti
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
So relevant for these strange, uncertain and stressful times!

"Words, just sometimes, can set you free."

'But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.'
~ Albert Camus, A Happy Death

This book has been an incredible read. I am not sure if there is an ancient saying about this, but this book surely appeared when the reader needed it. Matt Haig's Reasons To Stay
is just wonderful. It brought many bright rays of hope and sunshine, at a time when life's become so very uncert
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
One of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. Inspiration almost drips off the pages. It's honest and vivid enough to make difference even for people who have done no personal trips to the hellish planet of Depression.
And the imagery! Don't get me started on it or I won't get any sleep today! I love when concepts are mixed with guidelines and wisdom of someone who has been there and done all that.
I can't imagine why I never knew about this author before! It's a sure must read and a
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it
“How to stop time: kiss.
How to travel in time: read.
How to escape time: music.
How to feel time: write.
How to release time: breathe.”
― Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive


This was OK ! There were some bits i related to, others not so much. However, the writing style was simple and accessible, the paragraphs; short and concise. This is a good read if you're beginning your journey of learning about depression :)
April (Aprilius Maximus)
Beautiful. Informative. Powerful.

Around the Year in 52 Books Challenge Notes:
- 34. A book about mental illness
Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
I'm so conflicted, and I feel really bad rating this two stars. Maybe it's more like a 2.5 for me?
I do genuinely appreciate a lot of things about this, but at the same time I just couldn't connect. Honestly, if you're planning to read this - my lack of enjoyment over this book is probably a 'me-problem' and you should just go for it. I'm just not one of the people who 'get' this book, I guess.

Just to jot things down quickly(ish):
Things I enjoyed about this:
- Matt Haig brought up books a lot. I u
Hattie Grünewald
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
I won this proof on twitter from Matt and though I don't often review books here, I thought that probably I owed him that. Not just for giving me a free copy, but for writing the book in the first place.

Let me be honest, I started reading this and thought "This book isn't written for me". But then I thought "There are people I would like to read this, because it feels so familiar to me." I would like to give it to people who are close to people with depression and anxiety, but don't really under
"Now, listen. If you have ever believed a depressive wants to be happy, you are wrong. They could not care less about the luxury of happiness. They just want to feel an absence of pain. To escape a mind on fire, where thoughts blaze and smoke like old possessions lost to arson. To be normal."

A meaningful book about depression, anxiety, and creating reasons to stay alive. Like a modern day William Styron, Matt Haig shares his experience with depression and anxiety and how he fought to overcome su
Joanne Harris
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC of this book from Canongate. My usual technique, when reading an ARC, is to read 5 pages, then take a view as to whether I'm going to actually read the book. With REASONS TO STAY ALIVE, I'd passed the 50-page mark before I remembered to take a view, and by then I was down the rabbit-hole. Matt Haig is a marvellous writer: limpid; tender; passionate. In this memoir (and it's short, barely 200 pages long), he manages to articulate, both the bleakness of depression and the means o ...more
Dec 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So good that it should be required reading. In schools. For GPs. Everyone. Haig says that each mind breaks differently, but I think his heartfelt words will say/mean something to anyone who has felt anxiety or depression. Some sections were so real that I had to put the book aside for a while.

It's brilliant and hopeful. My thanks to Matt Haig for sharing so much of himself. It's not something most of us are able to do.
Whitney Atkinson
4.5 stars

If you’re easily triggered by descriptions of other people’s mental illnesses, I would advice against reading this during low points. There’s some very in-depth descriptions of his dark thoughts and the panic and depression he felt, and it was really uncomfortable to confront. I think the title misled me because I picked this book up on a bad night hoping it would be uplifting, but I almost immediately had to put it back down when I realized it wasn’t going to help at all, just add to m
Nat K

5**** plus.

”You are going to go mad. Like Van Gogh. You might cut off your ear.”

Whether you have a large black dog lumbering behind you, or a playful puppy bounding by you side, your mental health is one of your greatest assets. It is more delicate than the most intricate Swiss watch. We often don’t think of it too much, until things go skewiff. It’s something we take for granted, like the sun rising and setting.

”Life is hard. It may be beautiful and wonderful, but it is also hard. The way peopl
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Wow. Wow. Wow. What an absorbing and powerful read. This was a book I purposefully set out to read slowly and in snippets mainly because many of the books themes took me to places too familiar and disturbing but I also couldn’t look away instead I devoured this in almost one sitting. Like a tragic car accident you can’t help staring at, I couldn’t stop reading. There’s times this book felt suffocating and uncomfortable like reliving a past nightmare. I even felt while reading this book a resurfa ...more
Jan 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
reasons to stay alive was recommended to me by my dear friend, who said that this book "had changed her life." what a dangerous declaration.
this book consists of:
- random "deep" thoughts;
- random quotations - sometimes it seemed to me that the weak construction of this book would fail were it not for other writers or philosophers;
- random "funny" little remarks (often in parentheses);
- random book and movie titles important for the author.

let's say that i can understand why the author didn't dec
Sep 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I came across many references to this book and have wanted to read it since some time. This is the story of how Matt Haig fought depression. The book is extremely important – it deals with the topic of mental health which needs more attention, and his personal account is very well written and inspiring.

Matt is unable to reason how and why it happened, but he slips into a very deep depression. His self-esteem is dented severely, and he develops extreme anxiety – so much so that even walking to th
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

“There is no standard normal. Normal is subjective. There are seven billion versions of normal on this planet.”

🌟 I am glad that I am reading more non-fiction books, because while fiction relieves stress and entertains me, I have found through trial that non-fiction does stay with me more. I find my brain retaining most of the things I read in non-fiction!!

🌟 While I have heard mostly good things about this book, I se
Julie Eilén
Apr 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I feel like this book is a friend I very much needed.
Amy | littledevonnook
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Not too long ago I was approached by Canongate about this book. They had seen that I made a recommendation video on my YouTube channel for books relating to mental health and because of this they thought I would enjoy this book. Mental health awareness is something I consider to be of the utmost importance - having suffered with depression and anxiety from a young age this is definitely a topic I hold dear to my heart.

Now I have to be honest - I'm not one for reading non-fiction, in fact last ye
I don‘t know how to rate this book. On one hand I really liked it, his perspective was interesting to read about, but on the other hand it a little bit triggered me.
Matt Haig is an amazing writer. This is the first nonfiction book I’ve read from him, he wrote my favorite book I read last year: The Humans. But this book is really great and really important. It’s a book about his depression and anxiety and it’s partly the story of how he tried to kill himself and how he overcame that, but there’s also some really insightful facts about depression and anxiety and metaphors and lists of reasons to stay alive, and just a lot of really inspiring hopeful things in ...more
Shine Story
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, non-fiction
This book makes me want to give everyone I know a warm hug and a cup of tea.
I'm not really sure how to rate this one, but I do know that everyone should read it. As someone who has been diagnosed with anxiety and PTSD, this book means a lot to me, even if Matt Haig's journey with mental health has been very different from my own. You can get through it in a single sitting, but I'd recommend savouring this one and taking time to think about Haig's words in relation to people you know.

You are wal
Jan 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: z2017, nonfiction, ebook
3.5 stars.

I enjoyed reading this. It was such an honest and personal account of what Matt Haig went through. I could really relate to this but reading some parts were hard because of that. I kind of wish I read this when I was in a better mental space because I might have gotten more out of it but I think he did a really good job. I especially liked a passage that I have highlighted below about depression (I marked it with a * to differentiate it from the other quotes).

I hope more people come f
Johann (jobis89)
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“There is this idea that you either read to escape or you read to find yourself. I don’t really see the difference. We find ourselves through the process of escaping.”

The story of how Matt Haig came through crisis, triumphed over a mental illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.

I wouldn’t say this book was revolutionary in any way, nor did it teach me anything I didn’t already know about depression and anxiety. However, Matt Haig writes in such an inspiring and hopeful way th
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thoughtful, witty and comforting approach to depression. I would've liked a little more hard science in this, but the author's right to say that our understanding of the brain is in the early stages, and to a sensible degree, we have to find what works for us. Throughout the book, we're offered avenues to explore that.

I'd particularly recommend this book to family and friends of the sufferer, as it explains depression very well, but there's plenty in here for veterans of the struggle.
Liz Barnsley
Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A fuller review MAY follow but my initial reactions to this book, just after finishing it, you can find here.

It is ironic (is that the right word I wonder?) that the author who gave me my first reason to stay alive, at a time when I struggled to find one - with his previous novel, The Humans - then went on to write openly, elegantly and with no holds barred, about his own experiences of depression and anxiety. And called it "Reasons to Stay Alive" If I was better with words myself I could proba
Sonya Serial Reader
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wait about my video about mental illness, this book made me decide to do it, to come out and dare to say it outloud, yes I have depression and anxiety disorder, I am fighting them everyday, and I relate to every single thing in this book (even though there are some differences). Gonna talk to you soon about it all. till then, keep fighting, keep hoping. Life is not as bad as it may seem some days!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Everything I Know About Love
  • Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race
  • Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas
  • This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor
  • How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong
  • Girl, Woman, Other
  • Queenie
  • Jog On: How Running Saved My Life
  • The Apology Impulse: How the Business World Ruined Sorry and Why We Can't Stop Saying It
  • Women Don't Owe You Pretty
  • Normal People
  • Mad Girl
  • The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
  • It's Not OK to Feel Blue (and other lies)
  • Happy: Finding joy in every day and letting go of perfect
  • Quiet: Learning to silence the brain chatter and believing that you’re good enough
  • The Flatshare
  • My Sh*t Therapist: & Other Mental Health Stories
See similar books…
Matt Haig was born in Sheffield, England in1975. He writes books for both adults and children, often blending the worlds of domestic reality and outright fantasy, with a quirky twist. His bestselling novels are translated into 28 languages. The Guardian has described his writing as 'delightfully weird' and the New York Times has called him 'a novelist of great talent' whose writing is 'funny, rive ...more

Related Articles

Just the titles of these books themselves will start you off on the right foot: Girl, stop apologizing! Maybe you should talk to someone? Stay...
30 likes · 9 comments
“How to stop time: kiss.
How to travel in time: read.
How to escape time: music.
How to feel time: write.
How to release time: breathe.”
“THE WORLD IS increasingly designed to depress us. Happiness isn’t very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more? How do you sell an anti-ageing moisturiser? You make someone worry about ageing. How do you get people to vote for a political party? You make them worry about immigration. How do you get them to buy insurance? By making them worry about everything. How do you get them to have plastic surgery? By highlighting their physical flaws. How do you get them to watch a TV show? By making them worry about missing out. How do you get them to buy a new smartphone? By making them feel like they are being left behind. To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act. To be happy with your own non-upgraded existence. To be comfortable with our messy, human selves, would not be good for business.” 519 likes
More quotes…