Mini Review: The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

Mini Review: The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • Nonfiction
  • Psychology/mental health
  • Paperback
  • 272 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 4.13

The Comfort Book is Matt Haig’s third nonfiction book about mental health and mental illness. Just like the first two, this book is autobiographical and contains a collection of stories meant to comfort you in an increasingly stressful world.

The Comfort Book definitely lives up to the expectations set by the title. Reading it literally feels like somebody is hugging for a few pages. You need to be present for the full experience, though. If you’re just flicking through, you’re not going to get the full effect. Even though the book is literally written to make you feel good/better, it’s not necessarily an easy, relaxing read. I zoned out every once in a while and I put down the book to pick up a little later, so that I wouldn’t just be reading to finish, but to actually learn and gain something (this is actually a theme that is mentioned in the book).

“It is easier to learn to be soaked and happy than to learn how to stop the rain.”

Matt Haig, The Comfort Book

I would recommend this book to pretty much everyone, at least everyone who is open to the idea of changing their mindset in order to be happier. While it is definitely a comforting book, it also encourages you to look at yourself a little critically. I am definitely someone who has a habit of being completely bummed out when it is raining (see quote) when I was planning to go outside, the rain could completely ruin my day. Since I read this book, I’ve been on a run while it was raining twice already, something I never thought possible. This book is already making me a better/happier person.

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Mini Reviews: Reasons to Stay Alive & Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

Mini Reviews: Reasons to Stay Alive & Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

Reasons to Stay Alive

Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • Nonfiction
  • Self Help
  • Psychology/Mental Health
  • Hardcover
  • 266 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 4.11

Reasons to Stay Alive is Matt Haig’s memoir from the years his depression and anxiety were at their worst. Haig describes how he crawled out of his mental illness(es) step by step with the help of his girlfriend/wife.

“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

Reasons to Stay Alive is definitely my favourite one of these two books. It felt a little more hopeful, where Notes on A Nervous Planet felt more of an instruction manual at times. Reasons to Stay Alive felt like 266 warm hugs that you can just take when you need one. Every page shows you a different aspect of life that makes it worth living. Haig’s writing is so open and honest and I have the biggest respect for him that he is willing to share his own experiences in this way. This book, and Notes on a Nervous Planet too, may actually save lives. I recommend buying this books and just reading a couple of pages whenever you are having a bad day. It will make all the difference.

Notes on A Nervous Planet

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • Nonfiction
  • Self Help
  • Psychology/Mental Health
  • Paperback
  • 310 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 4.00

Notes on a Nervous Planet is a follow-up on Reasons to Stay Alive, although I read them in the “wrong” order. There are a lot of references to its predecessor, though none that you will not understand if you haven’t read Reasons to Stay Alive first.

Notes on a Nervous Planet explores how certain aspects of modern society can feed our anxiety and other mental illnesses (depression, eating disorders etc.). It describes how every technological advancement can also have its drawbacks, but also how to shield yourself from aspects of society that negatively influence your mood and mental health. The book focuses a lot on social media and the news, but there are sections on all sorts of subjects, such as the way we work and the importance of sleep.

The writing in Notes on a Nervous Planet (and Reasons to Stay Alive) is very accessible. Like I said about RtSA, the way Haig describes his own struggles with mental health is very open and honest. I especially like how he gets to the bottom of things like WHY supermarkets (a recurring theme in both books) can overwhelm people with anxiety so much. He explores the biology of it and explains that we were not made to have so many choices and so much stimulation at once. It makes you feel less guilty about having trouble with doing certain things or going certain places.

My other favourite thing from NoaNP was when Haig invented Psychograms. There is no unit in which you can measure the psychological weight of certain things, so Haig invented one: the Psychograms. Having to make a phone call costs 200pg for example. Going grocery shopping might cost 500pg, but watching a sappy movie or reading a good book may gain you some Psychograms. I’m all for implementing this system!

I tried to keep it short and sweet, but there was a lot to talk about, in Notes on a Nervous Planet especially. I’m currently reading The Comfort Book, so I’ll be back with a mini-review on that shortly.

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Top 6 Non-Fiction Books on my TBR

Top 6 Non-Fiction Books on my TBR

Hello fellow bookworms! If you’ve been following me for a while now, you may have noticed that I haven’t written about non-fiction a lot. I am actually quite passionate about non-fiction books, especially subjects like history, politics, feminism, nutrition and psychology (that’s pretty much all of them, I guess). The problem is, I’m slightly less passionate about actually reading them. Reading, for me, is mostly a relaxing activity and non-fiction does not always fit that description. I’ve been picking up a little more non-fiction, though, lately, so I thought it was time to do some non-fiction posts. This is a list of the top 6 non-fiction books on my bookshelf that I am most excited about!

1. Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harrari

Homo Deus is the sequel to Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, although both can be read separately. As the title suggests, Sapiens focuses a little more on the history of humans, where Homo Deus focuses on the future of humankind and the developments that are still to come. I read Sapiens a few years ago and, even though I really struggled to make it all the way through (I bought an extra digital copy in Dutch to read side by side with the English version, because it was easier to get through), I absolutely loved the book. I was instantly excited about Homo Deus, but since it took me so long to get through Sapiens, I decided to shelf it (pun intended) for a little while. Maybe it’s finally time!

2. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

A copy of A Brief History of Time has been on my bookshelf for a while now, though I haven’t gotten around to it yet. A book by Stephen Hawking just seems incredibly daunting. It has always been at the top of my TBR, though. Can someone please talk me into starting on this one?

3. How Democracies Die: What History Reveals About Our Future by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt

Two of my interests combined in one book: politics and history. I have no idea where or when I bought this book, but it’s been on my bookshelf for a while now. I’ve always been interested by the idea that the future can be predicted by looking at the past. There’s this Dutch scientist who published a couple of books and papers on the next Word War (2020 Warning by Ingo Piepers). By looking at the patterns in past wars, he predicted that the next World War would happen around 2020, give or take 4 years. Turns out, he might’ve been right. But I digress, I’m so excited to read this book and find out what we can learn from our past.

4. The Wisdom of Psychopaths by Kevin Dutton

Don’t worry, I’m okay. I bought this book years ago, because I came across it at a bookshop and it was pink (just because I want to become smarter, doesn’t mean I can’t like pink!) and it looked interesting, so I bought it. I took a course in mental disorders in college and was fascinated by them, so I’m excited to find out what on earth we can learn from psychopaths.

5. The Joy of Movement by Kelly McGonigal

After years of sitting on my ass, reading books, I’ve been getting into exercising and other types of movement lately. I’ve been running three times a week and supplementing that with a bit of yoga here and there (Yes, I’m looking for a little pat on the back.) An Instagram account that has really been a great help motivation-wise is @kaseykfit. She’s an exercise/healthy habit coach and she’s mentioned The Joy of Movement a couple of times. I got curious, so I bought it a few weeks ago. The book is about all the different ways that exercise is good for you (other than just weight-loss). Out of the six books on this list, I think this is the one I’m most excited about!

6. You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero

This book has been on my bookshelf for over 2 years and I still haven’t gotten around to it. I’m a sucker for self help books with a catchy title, especially if the cover basically promises you eternal happiness and stuff. I guess this is one of those books that you need to read once, put tabs in and annotate the hell out of and then keep it around to open up every once in a while and read the paragraphs you need at that moment. So that’s what I’ll do.

That was it for today’s list! If you enjoyed this list, make sure to subscribe either through e-mail or WordPress, or to follow me on Instagram or Twitter to be kept up to date on new posts.

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14 Short Reads to get Ahead of Your Reading Goal

14 Short Reads to get Ahead of Your Reading Goal

Hello my lovely fellow bookworms! I don’t know about you, but I always love setting myself a reading goal for the year. I’m kind of an all or nothing kinda gal, so I have always struggled with forming habits, but I feel like having a reading goal helps me with that. The downside of having a reading goal, though, is that it can be a source of stress whenever I’m behind or on track. My favourite place to be is just a couple of books ahead. Right now I’m at 6 books out of 75 for 2022, which is 3 books ahead of schedule. My approach for this year was to start off with some short reads. This way, I would be ahead right away and I wouldn’t experience any stress. This also creates some space for a potential reading slump or to fit in some big books that take a little longer to get through (Stephen King is on my TBR this year). Here are 14 short reads to get ahead of your reading goal (or catch up if you’re already behind) and experience a stress-free year of reading!

1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (226 pages)

My first read of the year for 2022 for this exact reason. I wasn’t blown away, but it was enjoyable enough to make this list.

2. We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (64 pages)

Short, but informative. You get ahead of your reading goal ánd you learn about feminism. What more could you possibly want? Plus, she has written many more books, so if you like this, there’s more where that came from.

3. For the Harry Potter fans:

If you haven’t read them yet, try reading Quidditch Through the Ages (105 pages), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (128 pages), The Tales of Beedle the Bard (109 pages) and the Pottermore Presents series (3 short ebooks with short stories from Hogwarts).

4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (213 pages)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is not actually one of my favourites. My guess is that I may have just been too young to understand the book, since I was about 13 or so and English is not my first language. Since everyone seems to love this book with all their hearts, I’ll probably give it another shot one of these days and I suppose that earns it a place on this list.

5. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (155 pages)

Shakespeare is not the easiest writer to read, of course. Though the plus side of reading Shakespeare is that his plays are always between about 100 pages and 200 pages long. So if you’re into reading plays, poetry or classics like Jane Austen, this would make a pretty good read to get ahead of your reading goal. Since you probably already know the story of Romeo and Juliet, it will be easier to get through than most of Shakespeare’s other plays.

6. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (96 pages)

This book is so cute and so educational at the same time. It was written by the French pilot Saint-Exupéry in 1943 as a kind of modern fairytale. The pilot died a year later after being shot down by a German pilot. The Little Prince was the last book he ever published. Most editions of The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) are illustrated and it’s a great read for both children and adults.

7. If I Stay by Gayle Forman (201 pages)

This book absolutely broke my heart. The plot is so incredibly well thought of and beautifully executed. Definitely worth a read if you like getting your heart ripped out and stomped on. I would recommend this even if you’re not looking for a short read in particular.

8. Animal Farm by George Orwell (141 pages)

Easily one of my favourite classics. I say easily, because I haven’t read that many, so there are not a lot to choose from. Nevertheless, even if there were, this would probably still be one of my favourites. The fact that it’s relatively short probably has something to do with it. I love classics, but not for 600 pages straight. That’s just too much. This one is short and sweet and understandable. I would recommend doing a little bit of research on it before reading, though. That way you might better understand what Orwell is trying to say with his book.

9. The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan (211 pages)

I loved this one. It’s romantic poetry that is told through words from a dictionary. This way the story is not told chronologically, but through short entries, mixed up and put in alphabetical order.

10. The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod (172 pages)

I read this book a while ago on my Ipad. If you’re more into the nonfictional/self help books and/or you’ve set some New Year’s Resolutions for 2022, I would recommend this book. Even if you’re not planning on getting up at 5 A.M. every day like Hal Elrod, he still has some great tips and tricks to make the most of your day. And all that in just 172 pages.

11. The Millstone by Margaret Drabble (172 pages)

I remember reading this book when I was about 15 years old. The book was published in 1965 and it’s about a young (unmarried) academic who gets pregnant after a one-night stand. She considers an abortion at first, but in the end she decides to keep the baby and raise it by herself. Not exactly a light read, but definitely one that leaves an impression and it’s only 172 pages. (TW: Abortion)

12. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (206 pages)

What I wouldn’t give to be able to read the Narnia series again for the first time. This book is absolutely magical. If you haven’t read it yet, this is your sign. We named our family cat Aslan because of this book. You could choose to watch the movies of course, but there are only three movies and the series contains of 7 books, so.. You’d be missing out.

13. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (226 pages)

A true tearjerker. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll love the book. I know this is a cliché, but the book is actually better than the movie. Just rip my heart out, why don’t you.

14. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (200 pages)

One of the classics that appears on every list, so naturally this one can’t be an exception. It’s relatively short, the story is amazing and it’s a classic to scratch off your list.

That’s it for today! I hope you enjoyed this list of short reads to get ahead of your reading goal. If you have any additions to this list, let me know.

My 2022 TBR

My 2022 TBR

The last few days of 2021 went by SO fast, I hardly even had time to blink. It’s the dark magic of those final few days between Christmas and New Year’s where you’re not sure what day it is and you enter some kind of existential crisis that you don’t really snap out of until you’re a few days into the new year and you’re suddenly already behind on EVERYTHING. Well, it’s the 5th of January today and I’m suddenly behind on everything, like this post. Anyway, I was planning to get a jump on things and make sure my reading in 2022 isn’t endangered by a chaotic, rocky start. So I decided to make a list of some books I would really like to read in 2022 that have either been at the top of my TBR pile for months, have scared me because of their intimidating number of pages or books that are still relatively new and that I want to read before they lose their momentum. Even though I didn’t get a chance to finish this post before New Year’s (or in the few days after), I did actually have a flying start reading wise. So anyway, let’s get cracking. These are the books I hope to read in 2022:

  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I bought this book a few weeks ago because I’ve been hearing so many good things about it. It’s much smaller than I’d thought, so it might be one of the first books I will read next year, to get that zero out of the way. (I wrote this before NYE and I can now tell you, this was indeed my first book of the year. Review coming soon.)

  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

I have a new year’s resolution to pick up a few classics next year. This seems like a good classic to start overcoming my fear of classics, since it’s one of the shorter ones.

  • The Trials of Apollo: The Burning Maze(#3), The Tyrant’s Tomb (#4) and The Tower of Nero (#5) by Rick Riordan

I read the first two books in this series, The Hidden Oracle (#1) and The Dark Prophecy (#2) in early 2021. I absolutely loved these books, which is why I bought the rest of the series too. I just haven’t really gotten around to reading them, so I hope 2022 is the year I will finally learn to finish series I start!

  • 11.22.63 by Stephen King

Stephen King is one of those authors that I would really like to read, but that I’m very intimidated by, considering most of his books are so thick they could probably be used as a murder weapon. A while back I came across a summary of this book though and I was so curious I bought it immediately (it involves the murder of JFK, time travel and I think someone falls in love with a history teacher). It’s still over 700 pages, so wish me luck.

  • Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

I read Shadow and Bone and Ruin and Rising in 2021. The first book was amazing, the second one was pretty good too, but it didn’t hold my attention as much as I’d hoped, which is why I have been reluctant to finish the series. I desperately want to know how it ends though, so I hope to pick up Ruin and Rising soon!

  • The Harry Potter series (reread 1-7) by J.K. Rowling

If you’ve been following my posts, you may know that I’m doing a reread of Harry Potter as “adult” starting next week. So naturally, The Harry Potter series should be on my list for 2022.

  • Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston

Mostly just following the hype on this one. I loved the cover for this one and I love that LGBTQ+ books are getting more and more popular, so count me in. I was going to read this as a buddy read, starting last Sunday, but I decided I wasn’t really in the mood for this one yet, so I’m postponing it a little.

  • The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi

The first book in this series was amazing. All over the place and very confusing, but amazing. I read it late last year and I’ve wanted to read on ever since, but the next two books are sold out everywhere. Let’s just hope they’ll be back in stock soon.

  • The Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard

The opinions on this series are divided, but I personally kind of liked the first book, so I’m willing to give the rest of the series a shot. It’s 3 more books (4 total) and 3 novellas, so we’ll see how far we can get before the end of the year.. This series is definitely not my priority, though.

  • And Then there were None by Agatha Christie

2021 was the year I really started to get into Agatha Christie novels. I would really like to read more of them in the future, starting with 2022 of course. And Then There Were None is supposed to be THE best Agatha Christie novel, so that one just had to go on my 2022 TBR.

Do you have any books you’re really hoping to read in 2022? Or any New Year’s resolutions about your reading habits? Let me know in the comments!