When he’s not writing kids books like The Truth Pixie and book club favourites like 2010 novel The Humans and 2017’s How To Stop Time, bestselling author Matt Haig also gets his personal experiences and insights out on paper, tackling some pretty heavy subjects in as light-hearted way as possible.
Described as ‘the poignant and natural follow-up’ to his first autobiographical tome, Reasons To Stay Alive – which delved into his dealings with depression and anxiety – his latest memoir, Notes On A Nervous Planet (Canongate), tries to come up with a solution; a how-to guide, if you will, to feeling happy, human and whole in the 21st Century.
Matt Haig promises tried-and-tested advice on how best to navigate the modern world safely and as stress-free as possible
After experiencing years of panic attacks, Haig began wondering how we can stay sane on a planet that makes us mad and how we can stay human in an increasingly technological world. We may be more connected than at any point in our history, yet in many ways we feel more alone. We have instant access to everything from information to food, yet this super-quick, nervous-energetic existence is creating equally jittery and nervous lives, with rates of stress and anxiety increasing faster than ever before as we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our Body Mass Index.
The world is messing with our minds, says Haig, and as he noticed his own questions starting to morph into urgent matters of life and death, he began to look for the link between what he was feeling and the world around him. The result is Notes On A Nervous Planet, which he will read from and talk about in an evening of positive and insightful discussion. He promises to offer a closer look at the challenges posed by our ever-changing technological landscape, along with his tried-and-tested advice on how best to navigate the modern world safely and as stress-free as possible.
Matt Haig’s talk is the fourth in a series curated by Leeds Beckett University on 9 May for this year’s Leeds International Festival, each exploring the same question: what does it mean to be human?
Find out about the other talks in the What Does It Mean To Be Human? series: Staying Human in a Busy World – Gelong Thubten (2.30-3.30pm), The Incredible Human Journey – Professor Alice Roberts (4.30-5.30pm) and How Good Should a Country Be? – Simon Anholt (6.30-7.30pm). Tickets for all four talks can be purchased for £38 – see the Leeds International Festival website for details.
Be sure to also check out our guide to Literary Places in Leeds.