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Meet our Book Doctor... Matt Haig, author of Reasons to Stay Alive

In our Book Doctor feature, we welcome a guest to prescribe just the right read for any mood or occasion.

Matt Haig, author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How to Stop Time, has joined us to prescribe some fantastic books.

I'm a stay at home mum with two young children and although I mostly love it, I feel my days can be very repetitive. Can you recommend a book with an exciting adventure, away from the life of parenthood, which I can lose myself in each evening after my children are in bed? Thank you! – Holly

Exciting adventure is a great requirement for a book. I love a good Robert Harris novel, like Pompeii, for that kind of thing. Or anything by Patricia Highsmith.

Pompeii by Robert Harris

My book group is in a bit of a rut. We read The Day of the Triffids a while ago and it was universally loved, which surprised us all. Can you recommend something a bit different that we might not have thought to read? – Katherine

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes is a science fiction classic. It is even quirkier than The Day of the Triffids but brilliant, with real emotion.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

I would like to introduce my 7-year-old nephew to some new books. He has mild autism and likes to stick to things he is familiar with, so anything that is part of a series would be good. He enjoys the How to Train Your Dragon adventures and anything by Roald Dahl, but I would love to get him into something new. What would you recommend? – Rachel

When my son was seven his favourite books were Horrid Henry, The Famous Five, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and so on. One that isn’t a series, but is very special is A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton. It’s a modern classic.

Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

I love reading, but my current circumstances make it difficult for me to read an entire novel from beginning to end. Are there any good short story collections that you can suggest? – Vaia

Oh there are lots. I never understand why short stories aren’t more popular these days, as they make perfect sense. Mark Haddon's The Pier Falls is a great recent collection. But for sheer wit and great sentences you can't beat Lorrie Moore. Her Collected Stories are amazing.

The Pier Falls by Mark Haddon

How can I finish reading a chapter without spoiling myself and reading further on? – Sidrah

Good question. It takes rigid discipline. I am very bad at this which is probably why in my own novels I often write ridiculously short chapters.

Book Doctor
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

About Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig


Aged 24, Matt Haig's world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.

A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

"I wrote this book because the oldest clichés remain the truest. Time heals. The bottom of the valley never provides the clearest view. The tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if we haven't been able to see it . . . Words, just sometimes, really can set you free."

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