One of the reasons why we read is generated by the desire to escape a crazy world, a world in which we sometimes do not find ourselves. We read to save ourselves. This is also the case of the British writer Matt Haig, born in 1975 in Sheffield and appreciated more and more by his readers for the honesty with which he writes about subjects that are not at all easy to tackle.
Making his debut as a writer for children and teens – some of his books have been published at Nemira – few people knew, up until the publication of his book “Reasons to stay alive” in 2015 that Matt Haig faced a long period of depression while he was 24 years old, a period during which, because of his panic attacks, even the simplest activities were no longer possible. In an interview for Hay Festival given in May 2015 Haig speaks about the only way to cope with this existential pain: reading the books of his childhood such as “The Hobbit”, “Winnie the Pooh” or “The Catcher in the Rye” as an escape from the cruel reality into a childhood time when everything was perfect and afterwards, going back to reality by writing down what he felt. Step by step, reading and writing became ways of overcoming his illness and learning to live again, escaping his own mind simply to discover that rebuilding his reality is not such a complex process.
Reading and writing have become a therapy for Matt Haig, just as in the case of a famous American writer, Ernest Hemingway who used to say that “there is no friend as loyal as a book” and his take on writing was a very definite one: “All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.”
"The words have healed my mind” says Matt Haig, looking at books as one of the essential reasons to stay alive because they keep us connected to the rest of humanity while helping us to rediscover ourselves.
Words lead to a story and the story represents, in its simplest form, a change, either physical or mental. The stories we read convince us of the fact that inevitably things change and just like that we can do it, too, we can leave the state we are in with the help of the books we read. For a writer, the road from reading to writing is a more intense one, but with higher chances of finding yourself once more. We read to escape but we find ourselves in this process, better, wiser, in an improved version of ourselves, mentally and spiritually.