“That’s the thing with time, isn’t it? It’s not all the same. Some days – some years – some decades – are empty. There is nothing to them. It’s just flat water. And then you come across a year, or even a day, or an afternoon. And it is everything. It is the whole thing.”
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of the writer Matt Haig. I’ve written reviews on The Humans, Reasons to Stay Alive and Notes on a Nervous Planet, so here I am to naturally write a review on another of his books: How to Stop Time.
I went into this book with extremely high expectations. I’ve connected so much with Haig’s other books and they’ve been so impactful in my life that it was hard to go into this book with a clear frame of judgement. I loved the concept of the book from the beginning. I’m a huge fan of dystopian so it was immediately up my street. However, the novel initially seemed rather confusing and jumbled. I found myself concentrating a bit too much on what was going on and wondering how it all fit together (since the chapters were split into different time frames). Of course, I was disappointed, since I loved all his other books straight away and I wished this one would be the same.
Nevertheless, I stuck with it. Perhaps if I hadn’t loved his other books so much, I might have stopped reading it. But I’m glad I didn’t. About halfway through, I feel like the book picked up its pace. I was becoming more attached to the characters (better late than never) and if anything I was just intrigued to see how it would end.
Honestly, I’m still conflicted about my thoughts on the book. It’s not the best book I’ve read, but I still can’t help but love Haig’s writing because it’s just so quotable. I find myself wanting to underline phrases and use them as quotes in my life because he has a way of understanding how humans work and think and knowing how to reach your heart. And that’s why I can never really hate his work because it feels like he knows the reader too much.
Although I felt like the book could have been structured better to capture the reader’s attention at the start, I absolutely loved the ending (don’t worry, no spoilers) and I think it was perfect for the book. There’s so many things to take away from How to Stop Time, regardless of the few criticisms, and I think if you’re the kind of person who picks up and appreciates the smallest details, then this book may be for you.
Below, is one of my favourite paragraphs from the book. I think it poses some really interesting questions about humanity and the way that we live.
“And, just as it only takes a moment to die, it only takes a moment to live. You just close your eyes and let every futile fear slip away. And then, in this new state, free from fear, you ask yourself: who am I? If I could live without doubt what would I do? If I could be kind without the fear of being fucked over? If I could love without fear of being hurt? If I could taste the sweetness of today without thinking of how I will miss that taste tomorrow? If I could not fear the passing of time and the people it will steal? Yes. What would I do? Who would I care for? What battle would I fight? Which paths would I step down? What joys would I allow myself? What internal mysteries would I solve? How, in short, would I live?”
And I also thought this quote was powerful too, and very relevant to my life at the moment:
“What starts as a doubt in a mind can swiftly become an act in the world.”
All successes start with doubt and it is a natural part of the process. This quote reminds me that it’s human for me to doubt my blog, or who I am, or the way that I portray myself to the world. I shouldn’t let it stop me from being who I am and who I want to become.
Have you read any books by Matt Haig? What were your thoughts?