Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Notes On A Nervous Planet

Overview

 “Notes On A Nervous Planet” by Matt Haig is a look at modern life and the stress and anxiety it causes. It is a look at how technology has taken over and left us feeling more stressed than ever before. Matt then tries to unravel how to survive in this new digits age where Twitter is king and robots are on the rise. Matt uses his own battles with mental illness to show a path through the mess of modern life.

My thoughts

This was another book that I had preordered and was waiting for expectantly. I wasn’t disappointed. I enjoyed this book a lot and found it an insightful look at how to deal with the rise of technology and it’s effects on our mental health. I liked that from the start Matt admitted he wasn’t perfect even though he was offering advice. This made the book more relatable. The book was personal although I liked that it had references to other writers and reports as well.

In this book Matt focuses more on his anxiety rather than his depression, hence the title. He puts his experiences into words better than I ever could and is highly relatable. In the book he discusses how with mental illnesses you can relapse and how, no matter what you try, it is not always avoidable. He take about how even doing the right things can lead to us feeling bad.

Matt’s book looks at “how can we live in a mad world without ourselves going mad” and does a good job at coming up with some answers to this. He looks at the problems with the digital age and the developments in technology and offers simple, seemingly obvious, advice to have less, switch off and unload. He goes into more detail in his “how to” guides which are scattered throughout the book.

Matt also looks at how mental health and physical health are linked. Her makes the very valid point that mental health is part of our physical health so should be treated no differently. He even refers back to the past when it was considered that problem with our four humours would have a direct effect on our mental health. In fact it seems we have gone backwards in separating the two.

The structure of the book was something else I really liked. It is made up of short chapters separated into sections. It reminded me of a blog with lots of entries. Some of the sections are just lists which kept the book moving at a good pace and keeps you reading more. I also liked the quotes at the beginning of some chapters. 

Overall I thought the book was great. It was humourous but with a serious side (please check out the robot therapy session). Matt’s style is unique but great. There are so many parts I want to quote from it. I would suggest everyone reads it.

If you have read this book feel free to share in the comments or on TwitterFacebook or Instagram.

Rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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Book Review: A Beginner’s Guide To Being Mental

Overview 

 “A Beginner’s Guide To Being Mental” by Natasha Devon is an A to Z guide about everything to do with mental health. It covers topics including A for anxiety, F for food and M for media. She aims to answer many different questions on the full spectrum of mental health, using her own experiences of working in the field and that of other experts too. 

My Thoughts

Before starting this book I was unsure of it was going to be for me. I don’t know why but I was wary. But the book started off well when in the introduction it made the important point that we all have mental health be it good or bad. I think making this point so soon in the book was key and invited readers from all different backgrounds to carry on reading. It shows the book is relevant to everyone. 

Something I didn’t expect from the book, but is a huge positive to me, is the humour that Natasha uses. Her anecdotes are often amusing with little comments in brackets that make you laugh and smile. It makes the book much easier to read and more relatable. It is also something I’d like to incorporate in my own writing as I feel it just worked so well with this book. It shows that even when discussing this serious topic there is a time for humour. It just works. 

I also really liked that throughout the book Natasha uses a mixture of personal stories and information from experts. Again this makes the book relatable and stops the subject from becoming dry. The expert information is of course crucial to the book but the personal stories help you make sense of everything if you are not an expert. It is accessible to everyone. This is continued in the layout of the book. I like that there are clear sections within each chapter that make it easy to read. 

When Natasha is writing the section on medication and mental illness, I liked that she made it clear that she is not a doctor. I think this is important for this subject in particular as many people will take things they read about medication as expert advice which can be dangerous. I also thought Natasha was well balanced in this section of the book and she makes a good point that this area is complicated. 

Natasha is also very conscious about not too sharing or being instructive about practices in mental illness. She includes trigger warnings where necessary. She does this all very well and I think this makes this book a safe book for those with a mental illness to read. 

The book covers a range of subjects, not just the obvious, which makes it an interesting and unique read. It is political at times but I think it could be said that the topic of mental health is a political one now. It is detailed and comprehensive in what it covers.

Overall I enjoyed this book. I’m glad I read it and would recommend for anyone wanting to know more about mental health generally. If you have read this book feel free to share your views in the comments or on TwitterFacebook or Instagram.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Book Review: The Stranger On The BridgeΒ 

Overview

 “The Stranger On The Bridge” by Jonny Benjamin tells the story of Jonny’s life, starting with when he was stood on Waterloo Bridge, about to take his own life, and was saved by a passing stranger. The book looks at what led Jonny to this point, in detail, from his childhood to more recent experiences. The book also looks at the story of how Jonny found the stranger who saved his life and the work he, Jonny, has done within mental health campaigning since. 

My thoughts

I had this book on pre-order and had been waiting quite a while for its release. I was not disappointed. Jonny is one of my inspirations and this book shows you why. Jonny shows how he has campaigned for better mental health care and education in an attempt to break down stigma. His story is very relatable though and he has detailed how he has struggled as well. 

In the book Jonny looks at the relationship between mental health and physical health. In particular he discussed his experience of being diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and how this impacted on his mental health. He makes what I feel is a good point that mental and physical health are very much linked and that when one declines so can the other. Jonny discusses how medication for his physical health condition had a detrimental effect on his mental health. He is very open and honest in his account, as he is throughout the book.

By looking back on his life, Jonny shows that a mental illness can start early in childhood. He doesn’t blame anyone for his illness but discussed the impact different events had on his mental health. While acknowledging that mental illness can start so young, Jonny also notes that the Children and Adolescent Mental Health services (CAMHs) are in a mess and much needs to be done to improve access to, and care in, these services.

Throughout the book Jonny talks about his campaigning and there are a lot of statistics presented in the book which, to me, shows just how important what Jonny does is. He looks at many different areas where there are acute problems with mental health. I agree a great deal with Jonny’s point that talking isn’t enough and that we need to campaign for better services.

Another part of the book I found highly relatable was when Jonny was discussing the impact having a mental illness can have on your loved ones. It is often under sold just how big an impact it has. Jonny talks about it a lot and how he felt he wanted to protect those closest to him. He made the excellent point that it is possible to love those around you when you feel nothing but hatred for yourself. 

An intrinsic part of the book is Neil’s story. Neil is the stranger on the bridge and it is so good that Jonny included Neil’s version of what happened that fateful day. In my opinion this adds to the book. 

Overall I would highly recommend reading this book. It is very informative as well as telling a story. It is well written and relatable. If you have read this book feel free to share your views on the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Book Review: The Self Care Project

Picture from Pinterest 

Overview

“The Self Care Project” by Jayne Hardy is a book aimed at helping you make the most of your time to look after yourself. It looks at the term self care and what it means in real life. It gives advice on how to incorporate self care into your every day life and tips on what to do when loving yourself feels alien. It is a practical guide with activities to do along the way.

My thoughts

I really enjoyed this book. The tone that the book is written in is that of a friend who understands just how hard caring for yourself can be. It does not lecture you on what you should be doing, but instead inspires you to make changes, along with suggestions of how this can be done. It accepts that sometimes we are going to fail and instead of telling you off for that, it has practical solutions.

Jayne Hardy is honest about her own difficulties in this book and this helps you feel more at ease when reading as you realise you are not alone. Jayne makes you feel like she cares deeply about what you do and your well being and that is why she has written this book just for you. 

The description of depression in this book is the best I have ever read. It shows just how paradoxical depression can be and how we are all different in the way we suffer. It makes you feel understood and therefore maybe it is possible for you to incorporate self care and feel better about yourself.

The book also incorporated practical exercises to get you thinking about each area it was discussing, with templates as a guide. These templates look great, are simple to follow and easy to recreate, which means it isn’t turning self care into an arduous concept (which would defeat the point). I am really looking forward to filling in some of these as part of my bullet journal.

Another area of the book I really thought was useful and well written was the discussion surrounding our boundaries and what to do when they go a bit wonky. Jayne Hardy acknowledges that this is not an area that is easy to manage and admits to having trouble in this area too, which makes you feel understood. She explains why it is so important to have these boundaries in place but admits its not always easy. This gives you a realistic view of what it will be like to incorporate this self care. 

Overall I really recommend this book for anyone, not just those struggling with their mental health. It has lessons we can all learn something from. It is very relevant in our society today and has realistic expectations of those reading it. It is practical. Unlike other self help books, it is encouraging and breaks everything down into small steps. It also has emergency self care for different situations to refer to. Thank you Jayne for writing this book.

If you have read this book, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Book Review: The Goldfish Boy

Overview

“The Goldfish Boy” by Lisa Thompson is about a boy called Matthew who has OCD. Matthew finds himself caught up in trying to solve the mystery disappearance of his neighbour’s grandson, Teddy. As Matthew spends a lot of his time recording what his neighbours do, he is ideally placed to work out what has happened to Teddy. But Matthew is fighting his own battles in his head. This book looks at what thoughts Matthew has and how they can hold him back. Will they stop him solving the mystery of little Teddy?

My thoughts

I really enjoyed this book and found it really easy to get into. The story was interesting and moved at a good pace. It kept me wanting to read to find out not only what happened to Teddy but what happened to Matthew too. Although Matthew has OCD relating to contamination and germs, it was made clear that OCD wasn’t just about the actions but the intrusive thoughts Matthew had as well. It looked at how Matthew’s thoughts impacted on his behaviour and led to compulsions as well as the root cause for it all.

The book looked at the treatment for OCD as well. This was good I thought as it showed how difficult it is to face a stranger and discuss what is going on in your mind when you are unwell. It showed that opening up takes time and there are many battles in treatment to overcome; it is not a magic cure.

Another thing I liked about the book was that it looked at the impact having a mental illness, such as OCD, has on the family around you. It showed how Matthew’s mum was desperate to do anything to help her son but did not know what to do do for the best, which is often the case. It also showed how difficult it can be to understand the mental illness from the other side, as Matthew’s dad struggled to cope with it. As well as this it showed the impact on his parents’ relationship and how that suffered because of Matthew’s OCD. This was very realistic to life as mental illness has such an impact on others.

This book was really good and really realistic about what having mental illness can be like. I would recommend it to anyone even though it is written as a children’s book. I think its very relatable and will reread it in the future.

If you have read this book let me know in the comments or on Twitter what your thoughts were.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟