Book Review: Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig


I pre-ordered this book and am very glad I did.

Matt Haig's Notes on a Nervous Planet asks readers to take a close look at stress and anxiety and the ways that the two are amplified by the culture we live in. Centered with short clips of Haig's life in memoir style, the text becomes an experience that is neither easy to swallow nor easy to forget. Haig contemplates how technology and consumerism affects citizens of the twenty-first century through an informal lens that waivers between whit and despair.

Gosh, I needed this book--if only as a reminder to give up my consumeristic tendencies and obsession with social media. However, the journey was not one that I take lightly as I often found myself reflecting on the world around me, the society I live in, and the effects of anxiety for individuals I know and love. I had to take breaks from this book because of the difficult subject matter even though Haig makes the text as inviting as possible with his unique style and format. While at times I was able to consume page after page after page of this book in one sitting, other times I slowly trudged my way through the memories shared and the glaring takeaways of the text.

In some ways, I believe this book should be a required reading for anyone concerned about the effects of technology. However, I am not naive enough to think that everyone would care [even though empathy is one of humanity's outstanding characteristics]. The anecdotal value of the book leaves readers with a greater understanding of Haig's life in a way that they are able to reflect and reevaluate. Here are a few entries that left a lasting impression on me:

"Note to Self" (p. 167): I responded to this entry on some fundamental level wherein I was left understanding just how important affirmations are in life. There are times when nobody will ever be able to deliver the encouragement that you need, so it is wise to self-inventory and provide your own type of mantra. I loved the subtle allusion (be it realized or just by happenstance) to Rudyard Kipling's "If" as Haig tells himself to "Keep your head when all about you are losing theirs" (167). This is a poem that I hold dear to my heart and use as my own personal lift-me-up. Furthermore, the entry highlights the importance of reflecting on the past and evaluating experiences.

"Fiction is freedom" (p. 238): Yes, yes, and yes! I cannot agree more that fictional words are essential in lives. As an avowed advocate of literacy, I cannot read this entry without feeling the need to jump up and shout "YES!" Reading is so important in lives and can offer an outlet for escape, understanding, and empathy.

This book is an experience rather than a journey. It is educational and insidious, personal and honest. I would suggest it to anyone who needs a reality-check and swift kick to consider the effects of anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and depression. Additionally, many individuals will find solace in that they are not alone in their experiences.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

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