"The Comfort Book" | Reviewed by Nelson Appell
Matt Haig, fresh off his million-copy bestseller, “The Midnight Library,” capitalizes on his success with his newest effort, “The Comfort Book.” This is a small, meaningful book of aphorisms, insights, wisdom and empathy. It’s the kind of book you can open anywhere and read what’s in front of you, a book to leave next to the couch or bed. It’s a book to thumb through when you have a few minutes to spare in a busy day.
“This book is as messy as life,” Haig writes, noting that readers can approach it however they want. Read it front to back, or back to front, or “just dip into it.” For this review, I’m dipping into the book at random.
I open to page 147. It’s titled “Clarity.” There are two sentences. “You are here. And that is enough.” A simple reminder in our busy days to sometimes stop and just be.
I turn to page 204. It’s titled “Negative Capacity.” Haig muses over the notion of negative capacity, a term introduced by the poet John Keats, a term later adopted into psychology by Wilfred Bion. It’s essentially about being able to live moments in your life in awe of the beauty of the world “without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” It’s a way of being present to creation.
I flip to page 49. It’s titled “There is always a path through the forest.” It’s about hope. Haig recounts his depression during his 20s. For three years he lost all hope and wanted to die. Sometimes, when you are lost in the dark forest of depression or overwhelming circumstances, you need a small light of hope that you will emerge from the forest.
Page 51 is titled “Pizza.” I’m curious so I read what he has to say about pizza. “Pizza tastes good regardless of your job title. The best of life exists beyond the things we are encouraged to crave.”
Haig notes in his introduction that we crave and think about food most when we are hungry. Plunge off a ship into the ocean and suddenly you are thankful for life rafts. When we are at our lowest points in our lives is when we crave wisdom and are ready to receive some lessons on living.
“The Comfort Book” offers wisdom and life lessons learned at life’s low points. Reading through the book, I did find comfort and much to think about. This would be a great birthday gift or Christmas gift to people in your life who could use a little comfort.