Meet this month's Book Doctor... Matt Haig!

In a reading rut? Want to health-check your reading habits? In our Book Doctor feature, we welcome a guest to prescribe just the right read for any mood or occasion.

Matt Haig, author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How to Stop Time, has picked five questions – sent in by Caboodlers just like you – to answer.

Got a bookish bothering of your own? Send your questions in – if we pick yours for the attention of our future Book Doctors, you’ll get a £15/€20 National Book Token!


I'm a stay at home mum with two young children and although I mostly love it, I feel my days can be very repetitive. Can you recommend a book with an exciting adventure, away from the life of parenthood, which I can lose myself in each evening after my children are in bed? Thank you! (Holly)

Exciting adventure is a great requirement for a book. I love a good Robert Harris novel, like Pompeii, for that kind of thing. Or anything by Patricia Highsmith.

Flowers for Algernon

My book group is in a bit of a rut. We read The Day of the Triffids a while ago and it was universally loved, which surprised us all. Can you recommend something a bit different that we might not have thought to read? (Katherine)

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes is a science fiction classic. It is even quirkier than The Day of the Triffids but brilliant, with real emotion.

Famous Five 

I would like to introduce my 7-year-old nephew to some new books. He has mild autism and likes to stick to things he is familiar with, so anything that is part of a series would be good. He enjoys the How to Train Your Dragon adventures and anything by Roald Dahl, but I would love to get him into something new. What would you recommend? (Rachel)

When my son was seven his favourite books were Horrid Henry, The Famous Five, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and so on. One that isn’t a series, but is very special is A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton. It’s a modern classic.

The Pier falls

I love reading, but my current circumstances make it difficult for me to read an entire novel from beginning to end. Are there any good short story collections that you can suggest? (Vaia)

Oh there are lots. I never understand why short stories aren’t more popular these days, as they make perfect sense. Mark Haddon’s The Pier Falls is a great recent collection. But for sheer wit and great sentences you can’t beat Lorrie Moore. Her Collected Stories are amazing.

The Collected Stories

How can I finish reading a chapter without spoiling myself and reading further on? (Sidrah)

Good question. It takes rigid discipline. I am very bad at this which is probably why in my own novels I often write ridiculously short chapters.

Need urgent book advice? Why not visit your local bookshop where the booksellers will be happy to recommend your next read – find your nearest.

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