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Publisher's Summary

A follow-up to Matt Haig's internationally best-selling 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 an adult, it took him a long time to work out the ways the external world could impact his mental health in both positive and negative ways. Notes on a Nervous Planet collects his observations, taking a look at how the various social, commercial, and technological "advancements" that have created the world we now live in can actually hinder our happiness. 

Haig examines everything from broader phenomena like inequality, social media, and the news; to things closer to our daily lives, like how we sleep, how we exercise, and even the distinction we draw between our minds and our bodies.

©2019 Matt Haig (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Readers who have experienced anxiety without a tangible cause will find comfort in Haig’s words and vulnerability. Haig articulates much of what isn’t working for humans in today’s world while refraining from being too cynical." (Salon)

Notes on a Nervous Planet contains lists, imagined conversations, essays, and personal stories that critique the damage that worry - about the environment, politics, the news, and everything else that demands our attention on a daily basis - wreaks on our ability to live a full life. Haig artfully, powerfully counters these challenges with battle-tested advice from his own hard-won experience.” (Booklist

“In this illuminating follow-up to his memoir, Reasons to Stay Alive, novelist and children’s author Haig (How to Stop Time, 2018, etc.) continues to explore how the rapid pace of our modern world can adversely affect our psyche.... In bite-sized chapters, the author considers the various issues that plague us, including our increasing addiction to smartphones and social media, the emotional impact of absorbing 24-hour cycles of often grueling international news events, and our collective lack of sleep.... [An] often wise and inspiring self-help title strengthened by the author’s very personal experiences and acquired insight.” (Kirkus)

“A primer for how to live in the present moment, this book will find grateful readers everywhere.” (Nigella Lawson, author of How to Be a Domestic Goddess and Nigella Bites)

What listeners say about Notes on a Nervous Planet

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Very wise

Well done. Thorough. Good research but most importantly very timely, practical and helpful.

It’s good to be spending time and energy on mental health. It’s under appreciated and more important than ever.

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Incredible

These words really helped me. Thank you, MATT for putting words in a page and for being unequivocally imperfect. This is what I needed. Definitely too 3 favorite book

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I needed this more than I knew

Wow! I’m planning to listen again, because this one hit me in the solar plexus, in the best, possible way. Thank you. I will definitely be recommending this book in Audible or written format. What a treat.
Thank you, again.

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worth the read ...

Dealing with mental health in this crazy non stop world is hard, but this book helped me see it differently. give it a read you’ll love it 10/10 recommend.

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Well intentioned but anxiety provoking

Well-intentioned and earnest, Haig shares lots of reasons to be anxious and that caused me to be more anxious. I think that if you have not had a lot of therapy, you will learn quite a lot from this book and the tips and points that the author makes. However, if you've been through therapy, none of this will be new to you. I wish, as I noted above, that the author could have skipped the long lists of reasons to be anxious as they literally made me physically anxious. Also, there is quite a bit of repetitiveness in the book, which made it hard to concentrate.

Haig seems like a truly lovely person and he obviously put the book out there to help people. He is not a therapist, so of course, it is told from a layman's perspective. His personal stories were candid and helpful to read. I hope that he is feeling better and that people who do read this book will learn good techniques and realize they are not alone. It just wasn't the book I was hoping it would be.

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amazing book!

This is my second favorite title by this author. absolutely incredible! has helped me immensely.

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Loved it. LOVED IT.

This is the first book I've heard narrated by Matt Haig. I've read/listened to other books of his which is why I bought this one.

Listening to Haig narrate his book, I realized how much I miss Alan Rickman-- they have very similar voices and accents.

So that is to say, I found the content interesting and compelling but I love this book because the narration is superb. The book is smart and funny and exactly what my stressed out mind needed. I know it is one I will return to again and again...

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Interesting and Thought Provoking

Excellent look into the mind of a chronic depressive with anxiety disorder and a description of how today's world, with its technology and social media demands can easily exacerbate the condition. The text and story are good and I understand the author reading this insightful and very personal work, but at times I found him difficult to understand or follow.

Definitely worth a listen and definitely put some of his very clear and concise ideas into practice.

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First half ehh, second half great

I feel like Haig and I would be good friends if we knew each other in real life. Listening to this book, it's clear we think in very similar fashions. He talks about how his brain is always looking out for the worst-case scenario — skin cancer at the first sign of a freckle, heart failure at the first sign of a slight chest pain, etc. That's exactly what my mind jumps to in such situations.

Now, as far as the real content of the book goes: I felt like the first half was a bit negative / dark. I didn't like how he rambled out long lists of negative news titles, recent inventions, and the like. Some of his lists went on for 60+ seconds in the audiobook. Maybe he was trying to prove a point, I'm not sure. But those long lists really just annoyed me, and when they were negative, made me feel a bit anxious. Wasn't thrilled about that.

The chapters also feel a bit like brain dumps. I kind of wish he organized his ideas a bit better. Amidst the darkness in the first half, he had these really good, end of chapter lists. For example: "How to Stop Worrying about Aging." Several of these lists had some great insights or ideas. I wish he expanded upon them instead of just throwing them in near the end of chapters.

Now, if you're wondering why I gave this book four stars, it's because I actually really enjoyed the second half of the book. In my opinion, it was less dark and more hopeful / insightful. I especially loved the parts on shutting off our phones and computers and getting out into the world, the diminishing marginal returns of stimulation, and the dangers of consumerism.

I also loved how he said that we should be wary of big tech companies, especially when employees inside those companies are often the ones sounding the alarms about said technologies. I've worked in tech my whole career and am starting to feel the same way. He also mentions that we shouldn't try to stop the progress of technology, but that we should decide how we want to apply it. I liked that.

And lastly, I loved this line he had in the last hour of the book (on the subject of today's collective, societal madness): "Where normality becomes madness, the only way to find sanity is by daring to be different or daring to be the you that exists beyond all the clutter and debris of modern existence." Very poetic and well-put.

It's a quick read so I definitely recommend checking it out. And even though it might be frustrating, try pushing through the first half even if you're not crazy about it. It definitely gets better in the second half.

-Brian Sachetta
Author of "Get Out of Your Head"