Notes on a Nervous Planet

By Matt Haig

31,692 ratings - 4.02* vote

A follow-up to Matt Haig's internationally bestselling memoir, Reasons to Stay Alive, a broader look at how modern life feeds our anxiety, and how to live a better life.The societies we live in are increasingly making our minds ill, making it feel as though the way we live is engineered to make us unhappy. When Matt Haig developed panic disorder, anxiety, and depression as A follow-up to Matt Haig's internationally bestselling memoir, Reasons to Stay Alive, a broader look at how modern

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Book details

Paperback, 288 pages
January 29th 2019 by Penguin Life

(first published July 5th 2018)

Original Title
Notes on a Nervous Planet
014313342X (ISBN13: 9780143133421)
Edition Language

Community Reviews

Liz Barnsley

I'm not really going to review this properly I bought it and read it just for me really. There's nothing much I can say that I haven't said before about this author's writing and sometimes you just want to read a book to kick start your soul again.

Suffice to say that as ever after reading a Matt Haig book my faith in many many things is restored. Yes indeed.

Alexa Petre

As much as I respect and appreciate Matt Haig, I cannot give more than 2 stars to this book. First of all, it's very messy, and although he even mentions in the book that he deliberately wanted to write a messy book, it actually feels like a bunch of blog posts cluttered together in a book, without much structure and flow to it, especially since he repeats himself numerous times throughout it. I just couldn't help thinking I was reading a bunch of shallow self-help articles, full of truisms and of dramatic short sentences, that didn't go into enough detail in order to be interesting or helpful. Plus the exaggerated amount of enumerations became irritating after a while. I appreciate the intention of writing a book to help people navigate through modern times easier, but putting together a lot of statistics, quotes and general findings from different other authors (without mentioning the exact sources in the footnotes, another big flaw) just makes the book feel like a pseudo-scientific bunch of random facts. I'm really sorry Matt, this was not your best, I think.

Nat K

”The paradox of modern life is this: we have never been more connected, and we have never been more alone.”

Another gem from one of my favourite writers, which makes me realise why I love reading his books so much. Matt Haig has the innate ability to get inside your core and peel back the layers.

He makes you feel. He makes you think.

Whenever I start one of his books, the rest of the world falls to a blur, in slow motion. I become so engrossed in what he has to say, it’s as if time stands still. He writes of truth and hurt and feelings, and the discord so many of us feel in our oh-so-busy modern lives.

Inadvertently, he has become somewhat of a modern day sage with his wise words and observations. By being so upfront with his own struggles with anxiety and depression (via his previous book "Reasons to Stay Alive"), this book continues on the theme of the pressures we place on ourselves in the modern world, and if it is indeed worth it. We are bombarded with information overload from the time we wake up to the moment our head hit the pillow. No wonder our inner circuitry often snaps.

There's a beautiful snippet "A note from the beach" which is funny and cheeky at the same time. Effectively the beach has written an ode to us humans, about how we shouldn't obsess about who's "watching us" on the beach, about how we look, as no-one's really interested. They're all too worried about how they look.

"Reframe your idea of beauty. Be a rebel against marketing. Look forward to being a wise elder. Be the complex elegance of a melting candle. Be a map with 10,000 roads. Be the orange at sunset that outclasses the pink of sunrise. Be the self that dares to be true."

Penelope beautifully summed up this book by saying “…his writing is like a cup of tea and a warm blanket making you feel that no matter how crazy the world can get everything is going to be ok.” I couldn’t agree more. And I really can’t say more. Just read it.

Matt, you have such a positive influence on so many people. I truly hope you read your reviews, because you’ll see how much you mean to people, and just how many lives you’ve touched ?

? ? ? ? Just be. ? ? ? ?


How can we live in a mad world without ourselves going mad?

Matt Haig`s Notes on a Nervous Planet is all about providing to us, some sensible and practical solutions to the above complicated question.

"We are humans. Let's not be ashamed to look like them."

This concisely well-written book is must-read for all humans who have a brain and a mind.

Libraries aren't just about books. They are one of the few public spaces we have left which don't like our wallets more than us.

The importance of the reading habit is so very well described in this book. Books truly help us to remain sane and think right.

So, when depression slugs over me I close my eyes and enter the bank of good days and think of sunshine and laughter and turtles. And I try to remember how possible the impossible can sometimes be.

Matt Haig provides us few key and useful guidelines. It is important for all of us to understand and realize that mental and emotional illness is like any other illness, like diabetes or cancer. It need not be a shame or a secret. There is no need to feel guilty. Mental illness is not a weakness or a flaw. The pain of this illness is as and more painful than other illnesses.
It's all about being in the present moment!

Why do humans worry so much about a stranger's opinion?
Allow yourself just to be as you are.

“Be a map with 10,000 roads. Be the orange at sunset that outclasses the pink of sunrise. Be the self that dares to be true.

You can feel as removed from yourself as a packet of toilet roll is removed from a tree.


”How can we live in a mad world without ourselves going mad?

Matt Haig has such a way with worlds and he is so good at being able to explain the reasons people might feel anxiety and depression in the world we are living in today. This read couldn’t come at a more perfect time for me because the world is unimaginably horrific these days and I really needed this. I enjoyed this one even more than Reasons to Stay Alive, and I just really love his writing so much.

”The future isn’t real. The future is abstract. The now is all we know. One now after another now. The now is where we must live. There are billions of different versions of an older you. There is one version of the present you. Focus on that.”

I love the section about time in this book because a huge part of my anxiety is never feeling like I have enough time to do all the things I want to do, and never feeling present in the moment because I’m always planning things for the future and thinking about the future. This quote really speaks to me:

“To enjoy life, we might have to stop thinking about what we will never be able to read and watch and say and do, and start to think of how to enjoy the world within our boundaries. To live on a human scale. To focus on the few things we can do, rather than the millions of things we can’t. To not crave parallel lives. To find a smaller mathematics. To be a proud and singular one. An indivisible prime.”

I just love Matt Haig’s writing, and he makes me feel so understood and normal with my anxiety about life and the future and the world. I really needed this book right now and I’m so glad it was everything I was hoping it would be.

Reading_ Tam_ Ishly

This is the book which will make you think about the most useless things that we invest most of our time in. And we say we need more time everyday to do things that matter.

"There is a cliché about reading. That there are as many books as there are readers.

Meaning every reader has their own take on a book."

(Yes, this book too joins my best 2021 reads.)

The best non-fiction from the author and arguably my most favourite book of the new year, this one is life-changing.

We worry about a lot of things. Like constantly. About one thing or another. For nothing.

This book has so much power to bring you the arguments that you probably thought you would never need to make you see the inevitable 'nothing' in all the craze we are involved in everyday.

We want more. More social media engagement, more news updates, more and more for everything.

The book made me see how our lives are getting so chaotic day and night to the point of getting addicted to the screen which aggravates our ways of dealing with how we value ourselves with such unrealistic scales of likes, comments, following and such on social media.

I know it helps establish our jobs and it benefits us but the book argues if it's worth the way it's affecting our lives in a more negative manner most of the time.

This book will help you decide how to cut down all the useless competition and comparisons we are all so caught up in each day.


A truly timely and important book that everyone living on this nervous planet should read. Matt's honest and personal experiences shine through on every page and his writing is like a cup of tea and a warm blanket making you feel that no matter how crazy the world can get everything is going to be ok. I loved this book and have no hesitation recommending it to absolutely everyone, no one will finish this book without learning at least one important lesson or taking away one piece of advice that will make life just that little bit better. Thanks Matt!


An ode to social media (by Matt Haig):

When anger trolls the internet
looking for a hook
it’s time to disconnect
and go and read a book

Can I get an amen on that?! Surely my lit-loving peeps felt that in the feels as much as I did.

My 2021 mission to conquer Matt Haig’s backlist led me to his second nonfiction book that deals with his mental illnesses (anxiety, depression, and panic disorders). Notes on a Nervous Planet was written in 2019, and if the planet was nervous then it must be rocking back and forth in the fetal position now. More than ever, we need books like this to remind us that we’re not alone in dealing with the stresses of modern life. Read a healing sentence - breath in - read an insightful sentence - breath out. Repeat.

Try it again. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. If you feel just a wee bit better now, then I have no doubt you’ll feel a whole lot better after reading this book.

4.5 stars

Tom McLean

I feel like I could write a Twitter bot that would generate this entire book. If you're the type of person who needs someone to tell you "It will be okay" a thousand different ways, then this is the book for you. I, like Matt Haig, also suffer from anxiety. But being told "it will be okay" only adds to my anxiety. I was hoping for a tool or an escape, but did not find it here. I'm glad Mr. Haig has found a profitable way to deal with his anxiety, by selling out his mantras.

April (Aprilius Maximus)

This book gave me so much to contemplate!