How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
This is a beautiful and sad book.
I suspect it will speak to people in different ways. For some it will simply be one of the loveliest but saddest books they will ever read. I’m in that category. But for some people it will really challenge and change their perceptions, perhaps speak to them in a way nothing else will.
It’s the story of Tom, for whom time stops. Or perhaps better said he ages so slowly he is centuries old despite his youthful appearance.
Given that time has stopped for him, what will Tom do with his life? Will he aspire to greatness? Or will he allow fear to overcome him? If you outlive everyone you ever meet can you form relationships? With a seemingly endless future should you focus on the unknown ahead, the reality of your past or live for the moment? And how do you even do that?
“The first rule is that you don’t fall in love”.
Imagine going through life avoiding falling in love. Of course, many people never feel that joy but knowing it’s impossible and never being lucky enough to experience it are very different.
Tom asks us the question – is it love that gives our lives meaning? Or by living for now can we fall in love?
“A problem with living in the twenty-first century….. we are made to feel poor on thirty thousand pounds a year. To feel poorly travelled if we have only been to ten other countries. To feel old if we have a wrinkle. To feel ugly if we aren’t photo shopped and filtered”.
Tom knew Shakespeare, Captain Cook and Scott Fitzgerald. He looks backward, believing that everything good is behind him. And yet it’s a book about our own time. A time in which despots appeal to people who feel threatened, where likes on an FB post are worth gold and celebrity images dictate our self esteem.
The author explores the role that putting down roots and forming real connections plays in your identity and mental health resilience. What did his lack of connections post Rose and Marion say about Tom? Should he risk it all again?
So, we come to the ultimate question. What would you do with such a long life? Would the fear of scientific exploration keep you in hiding? Or would you throw caution to the wind to live your best life?
This book is so interesting, compelling and hugely relevant for today. It’s simply beautiful.
Another great choice for your bookclub.