• How to Stop Time

  • By: Matt Haig
  • Narrated by: Mark Meadows
  • Length: 10 hrs and 37 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (195 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Sunday Times top 10 best seller from the author of The Midnight Library and The Humans

HOW MANY LIFETIMES DOES IT TAKE TO LEARN HOW TO LIVE?

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old history teacher, but he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz-Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen it all. As long as he keeps changing his identity, he can stay one step ahead of his past – and stay alive. The only thing he must not do is fall in love.

But what if the one thing he can't have just happens to be the one thing that might save him?  

©2017 Matt Haig (P)2017 Canongate

Critic Reviews

"A rollicking time-hopping fantasy... How to Stop Time will provoke wonder and delight." (Observer)
"Hugely entertaining." (John Boyne, Irish Times)
"Outlandish...heartwarming, perceptive prose." (Anita Sethi, Daily Telegraph)
"A rollicking time-hopping fantasy... How to Stop Time will provoke wonder and delight." (Observer)
"Hugely entertaining." (John Boyne, Irish Times)
"Outlandish...heartwarming, perceptive prose." (Anita Sethi, Daily Telegraph)

What listeners say about How to Stop Time

Average Customer Ratings
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    3 out of 5 stars

Great idea but too much drama

although the subject and idea for this book is an interesting concept, the main character seems to be troubled all the time, unable to find contentment or happiness.
it's too much, exaggerated and enerving at times.

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Thought Provoking - great pace

Really enjoyed this book I found it thought provoking, with a great pace. Love & Live with no fear afterwards.... well try at least!
Thanks Matt Haig

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Beautiful story; amazing reading

I’ve been a fan of Matt Haig’s for quite a while. This book blew me away. Such a compelling story, read by an amazing actor. This is a must-listen!!

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Loved it

A most interesting read. Loved it. The narrator really brought the book to life. Well done.

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Original story keeps you hooked and guessing what next

Great original idea and entertaining read. I found the ending a bit rushed but perhaps I was just wanting more!

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Antidote to despair wrapped in a great story

Matt Haig is an artist. As such, he has a keen insight into the situation of being human. He suffers along with all of us--thinks and feels deeply about our common pains and delights. I don't know him personally, but his writing is shot through with evidence that these things are true.

Somehow, though, this depth doesn't stop him from writing stories full of humor, mystery, suspense, and love. They are paradoxes, these tales of his. Light and heavy. Calculated and warm. Philosophical but made buoyant with whimsy.

How to Stop Time is another triumph for the art of storytelling and for the hopeful pursuit of living.

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I loved The Humans but not this one.

I bought this book because The Humans was one of my all-time favorites. When I saw that this book had the same narrator and the same author, I figured I couldn't go wrong. But I did go wrong.

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  • Toni-Louise Hamilton
  • 07-20-17

love it

This book is the fourth book I have read/listened to by Matt haig, the first one being reasons to stay alive.I have absolutely loved all four books and how to stop time is probably joint favorite with reasons to stay alive.I feel that Matt haig has an amazing ability to understand people and I feel that his stories and themes and his way of writing just show so much understanding and empathy, it is so easy to identify what what he says.I would recommend his books to anyone who is fascinated by people and the way in which the human mind works.

58 people found this helpful

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  • "mark55773"
  • 01-23-18

Could have been better

I think the idea of this book had so much potential but somehow it felt lightweight. I found some of the language clumsy and it seemed to fall back on cliches rather than substance. I bit disappointing really

18 people found this helpful

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  • Kaggy
  • 07-17-17

Superb as I expected from Matt Haig

I don't suppose any people expect to learn lessons on how to have a wonderful life from a novel about a man who is over four hundred years old, but believe me you will when you read this story. However, please don't fear that this is a boring preachy affair. In fact it is a wonderfully entertaining story that skips across the centuries at a cracking pace and brings us to a conclusion that is satisfying and not wholly predictable.
I am a huge fan of Matt Haig's writing and this is every bit as good as my two big favourites The Humans and The Radleys. I'm sure the forthcoming film will be marvellous but the excellent narration of this book by Mark Meadows will be a hard act to follow.

76 people found this helpful

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  • Wendy
  • 09-28-18

Self indulgent. Just rubbish

Not one to be mean. But the storyline was long winded and took ages to make its point which you got straight away. Felt like it went on forever with a moaning voice. Sorry.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Mark
  • 09-13-17

Plot does not live up to the concept

I enjoyed this book, but not as much as I thought I was going to.

The central idea of a man ageing 15 times more slowly than normal is a strong one. It generates some nice scenes, and some thoughtful passages on the perception of time and the appreciation of the passing of it.

However there is a "thriller" element to the plot that does not seem fully realised. It is not particularly tense and rather fizzles out towards the end.

Also, the writer makes the same philosophical point too many times and therefore lessens the impact.

The narrators performance is good, well suited to the tone of the book and he handles the various accents competently.
I would recommend this book, but with some reservations.

45 people found this helpful

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  • Joanna
  • 02-07-18

Loquacious

Would you try another book written by Matt Haig or narrated by Mark Meadows?

No

What will your next listen be?

A fast moving exciting adventure with humor and hopefully some uplifting pieces within the story

Any additional comments?

I have just been reading the reviews for “How to Stop Time” and wonder why I feel so out of step with the majority of the comments. A literary critic would, no doubt, rave about this book, but for me the overuse of similes and metaphors turned this book into a turgid navel gazing collection of time jumping vignettes, so much thinking and remembering, not a lot of doing i.e. finding his daughter.

I found Tom to be a pathetic character who had never grown up, for a man that has lived for over 400 years he appears to have stopped thinking for himself and learnt nothing from his experiences – every small bit of happiness overshadowed by grief/despair and “woe is me”. I would have expected an individual over this length of time to have grown and matured learning from the different experiences and people met over the years and yet he hasn’t - 400 years living in fear – what a waste of time!

I have come to the possible conclusion that this book should be read rather than listened to and would probably appeal to those who enjoy reading Non Fiction or Mindfulness and Wellness books; discovering the hidden meaning within! As you can no doubt ascertain from my comments, I didn’t empathise with Tom, I found the book to be self-indulgent and depressing and spent a lot of time shouting “Get on with it”.

42 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-15-17

A marvellous ripping yarn

A colourful romp through history with a heart warming meaning of life type message. Ear candy for any history anoraks that enjoy the gritty detail of social historical references and a bringing to life of past eras. A gripping story is Matt Haigue’s vehicle for transporting us through many ages, particularly Elizabethan England. I couldn’t stop listening, the narrator was ok, I enjoyed his grasp of different accents that were woven throughout. A compulsory listen for history teachers I suppose.

20 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 08-09-17

Not for me

Sad to say I totally didn't get the fuss over this book- despite its huge celeb endorsements. Maybe it's just me but I found the main character kinda boring and the bit about Shakespeare made me lol a bit. I'm pleased that it's considered to be a success for the author as he comes across as a decent chap in his interest in the human condition (his other book). I think it might be that I need something a bit at a faster pace.

26 people found this helpful

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  • Kraded
  • 12-28-18

Terrible

The narrator was brilliant. I think it's important to start with a positive. However after reading Matt Haig's "Humans" (a book that I fell in love with right away) I was so excited to listen to another one of his. But this book is (and I'm sorry to say) bollocks! It is boring! 10h of boring characters with an even more boring storyline. An ending that has nothing interesting about it what so ever. I am angry tbh I really thought I had found my new favourite author. The ending feels like it may have been plan b. The relationship with his daughter feel brushed over and forced. There are many characters that pop in and the just disappeared with out having a real impact. It felt like a cheap film that never made it to a cinema. Humans is a 100 times better, please don't let this review put you off Humans.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Alex
  • 12-12-18

Downbeat...mono dimensionally dull

I came for a light-hearted time travel romp - I understand time as torture.
I came feeling for light relief - I felt miserable.
I came for mind-bending time temporal paradoxes - I think I cried.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-27-18

New favorite book

Read this in a day and wish it could have been 10x as long, I want to know so much more about Tom and all the Alba’s! It’s incredible to imagine the life they’ve all lived, and the author did a fantastic job of showing us the few glimpses the length of the book would allow.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-24-21

Good build up but disappointing climax

The book is great but I feel like the climax wasn't that interesting. There was a lot of build up for all the things that may go wrong but in the end it was just one dude being a bit crazy and then everything being okay again

3 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 11-29-21

Interesting story line,

The story was interesting, however the character is somewhat depressing. Like other books by this author the story has so much potential and yet the character is miserable.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs Jennifer K Godkin
  • 09-27-21

Loved it. Awesome!!!

I finished reading The Midnight Library which I absolutely loved. Started reading How to Stop Time but nearly stopped part way in. My advice is keep reading. I found it an awesome book with a lot of thought provoking writing. I am amazed at Matt Haig’s ability to draw you into an amazing story that you cannot stop listening to. Do yourself a favour and listen to or read these books. I am now listening to The Humans and can’t wait to get to the next and the next and the next. Thank you Matt Haig. I don’t normally write reviews btw. Please keep writing!!!

2 people found this helpful

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  • zenihama
  • 10-24-21

Another wonderful Matt Haig work

Like The Midnight Library, a reminder once again to grab hold of life and live it in the here and now. Can't wait to see how Benedict Cumberbatch interprets it into a motion picture!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-01-21

Wonderful

A fascinating story, beautifully written. Dotted throughout with wisdoms and life lessons. My favourite book this year, Thank you Matt Haig. A story that scoops you up and takes you on a wondrous journey. Mark Meadows narration is brilliant ... perfect.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-30-21

profoundly good

This was a profoundly good book to listen to. funny sad and thought provoking. loved it

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kathryn
  • 09-25-21

Life through the ages

Articulate & well written book, the narration was perfect. I did struggle with the loss & yearning throughout the story, but that’s my own personal preference. You can’t love without loss, this is life, this character had a very long life. Would have loved to hear more about the characters after, their lives after.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-04-21

How to stop time.

In consistent style, Matt Haig has crafted yet another phenomenal story detailing his infinitely pensive & insightful perspective of human nature & our quest for more than what we are! This story is magnificent!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Martyn
  • 06-08-22

A poorly written book based on a mildly interesting yet juvenile premise; and an appalling badly narrated.

I first listened to Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library on Audible being read by none other than Carey Mulligan. In fact this was my first ever experience of an audio book. It was beautifully narrated, nuanced, emotive, intelligently read. I found the book itself a little disappointing, lots of unnecessary description, repetitive, the author exhaustively wringing out the basic premise of the book (the luxury and the curse of living many different lives, each of these lives coexisting but in parallel universes) time and time again. But then Carey Mulligan’s superb narration overcame these shortcomings for me.

But this was certainly not the case with How to Stop Time. It’s a book that is extremely poorly narrated. The narration brings nothing to life. It’s tedious and flat. Yet the text itself is laboured, highly repetitive and at times tortuous. Not an easy narration by any means. Very little happens in the book, there is almost no plot beyond there being people in the world that age slowly and consequently live for centuries. And are forever trying to escape the attentions of normal folk. The author uses almost schoolboy devices such as the main character, Tom, coming to meet just about every famous face in history, from Shakespeare (yes, Shakespeare!), Captain Cook, Josephine Baker. You name them, Tom has met them, worked for them or befriended them. And 70% of the book is given over to repetitive internalisations — Tom thinking the same depressive, self indulgent thoughts about getting older and yet staying younger. And for every new scene the author repeats the ‘surprise’ of Tom observing “whilst everything changes, everything stays the same”.

This is a book cynically written to become a film, that much is obvious. Which I understand it will be soon with Cumberbatch starring. But the book is poorly constructed, it barely has a plot beyond the basic premise whilst the characters, especially that of Hendrick the ‘arch villain’ (who should I think, be played by Jeremy Irons in the soon to be film), is a cardboard cutout if every villain you’ve ever read about.

A poorly written book based on a mildly interesting yet juvenile premise; and an appalling badly narrated.