The latest book club read was a slight change of pace this time, we decided to go for a non-fiction, which is something we haven’t read before. For our first book club non-fiction, we decided to read Notes on a nervous planet by Matt Haig.
This is an important book to read for everyone, particularly for the modern age we are in. Reading this book following my recent post was actually perfect timing. I believe it to be very important discussion that more of us need to have about the modern world and how this has changed humans and the planet. I was excited to read this book, as I often wonder where we are heading in this world. We keep pushing the boundaries of technology and the internet and yet at the same time the planet and people are suffering. Matt attempts to break down how the world has changed and in doing so, how that correlates to the rise in problems within ourselves.
“Notes on a nervous planet is a personal and vital look at how to feel happy, human and whole in the twenty-first century”
I won’t lie, I struggled in the beginning with this book, I’m not sure why exactly, but I just didn’t immediately find myself turning the pages all too quickly. Matt begins by opening up about his own struggles with anxiety and depression, talking about his stress over twitter arguments online and the daily struggle of depression and what goes through a person’s head each and everyday. Throughout the book we hear more about Matt’s personal struggles, these personal stories are woven into the book between discussions on the similar topics they relate to.
Whilst I have to admit, the layout of the chapters and the way in which the book is written was a little difficult to stay engaged with. Overall, I really enjoyed the book, because of the message it provides and the importance of this message in this modern age. Matt makes you stop and think about your own life, your fears, anxiety, why you may feel this way and what you can do to help improve yourself. He explores a great many topics such as why we may be more anxious, discusses how drastically the world has changed since the internet was created and talks about everything from the media, impossible beauty standards, stress and so much more.
I particularly related to the chapters tackling sleep and the time we spend online and in particular on our phones. Even though I can quite happily leave my phone at home or in a different room and not have worries about what messages I could be missing or the fact that I haven’t checked social media. I like most of us, do find myself checking my phone or scrolling through my phone, even when I have something else in front of me such as a TV show, or sometimes in between conversations with people. The way Matt talks about this habit many of us share is simple really, yet not something we ever let ourselves think. He believes we are checking our phones and social media over and over again in order to feel some satisfaction, from being informed and not missing out on everything. It is often something we check, as though it is second nature now to press the home button every few minutes ‘just in case’. Now I admit I check my phone out of habit, a bad habit for sure, but I don’t rely on it. I am however aware of just how often, some people do check and I also have seen that this is by no means something only teenagers do, which is often an assumption people make. I have been at lunches where every single person puts their phone on the table before even checking the menu, seen people still on their phone at the cinema (throughout the film) and also sadly witnessed so many people on dates, dinners or days out with only one other person for company, and yet rather than talking to each other, they sit in silence on their phone. Or even worse, as many people often see, an elderly person is calmly waiting for their younger relative or friend to be done checking their phone, in order for them to speak with them. The image of this really breaks my heart sometimes, the idea that we are becoming slaves to these devices in our pocket and missing opportunities to really engage with people.
“The temptation to check your phone is down to uncertainty. That’s what makes it so addictive…”
A device that used to just be really helpful in staying in touch, a phone call here and there, has now become the center of our lives in many ways. Of course this is a generalisation, as there are many people who choose not to have smart phones. But I think that even if you want to avoid using them, or most technology, the world around us is really making it difficult. So often I try to call a business and struggle to find a number, or if I do, the first 2 minutes of the call is an automated message informing me to visit the website instead. From reading this book, it has made me even more aware of how often I am on my phone and what benefit I actually get from each time I am on it. Similarly Matt speaks about sleep and how this has also changed drastically. One thing he mentioned is the fact that the CEO of Netflix once stated that sleep was his biggest competitor – you can’t watch Netflix if you are sleeping. This really struck me, because more often than I would like to admit, I do find myself watching Netflix way past my bedtime and say to myself one more episode, maybe one more. The fact that a large majority of us don’t get enough sleep is again a strong indicator of the shift the world has made. We binge watch and then brag about it afterwards, we stay up to answer more emails, get more done, because we are constantly worried we don’t have enough time. This lack of sleep has a ripple effect on our bodies and minds, which in turn can lead to more health issues.
The book has a lot of excellent points and although reading it did sometimes seem hard to get through, overall I really enjoyed it. The above two issues really struck me the most and these are things I am thinking about more, whilst implementing some of Matt’s tips, towards helping me feel better and live a better life overall.
Vanille and I discussed this book probably more in-depth than any other book we have read so far, not only does that indicate how much there is in the contents we can all relate to, but just how necessary a discussion this is. With the latest iPhone update, came the addition of the screen time setting. I think this was the first step of people realising just how much time they spend on their phones and perhaps the first step to us taking some time away and remembering the art of conversation, without a device still in our hands. After a slow start, I really enjoyed the book and I will definitely recommend it to others. We all need to look up from our devices a little more often and remember it is possible to function without phones. Matt also wants us to remember to not focus so much on worries, particularly about the future.
This book is a handy guide in realising that you are not alone in feeling overwhelmed with the world at times and does a great job of explaining why this may be. I would highly suggest this is read by everyone trying to understand themselves a little better and trying to catch up with the modern world!
Book rating – 6/10
Recommend – Yes
Read again – Some parts
Our next read will be ‘Faking friends’ – Jane Fallon!