Bestselling author Matt Haig on the weirdest-ever family heirloom, his fluffy comforter and the little things that help him battle anxiety…
Betsy, our maltese terrier, is the first pet I’ve had since childhood. I always imagined having a large, wolfish dog, but my children [Lucas, 11, and Pearl, nine] had other ideas. Betsy has changed my mind about small dogs. She often sleeps in our bed, and when she doesn’t, I don’t sleep as well.
I’m a writer who lives on toast, so I cannot survive without my 50s-style toaster. My grandma ate toast with Marmite and peanut butter. That’s now my snack of choice: a family heirloom recipe! People find it weird, but the tastes are really compatible.
My wife Andrea and I got this Chinese solitaire game when we moved to Brighton. Most of our stuff was in storage as our house was being done up – this was one of the few things we had for entertainment. I find it very calming.
This electric piano was a Christmas present to myself. Piano is the one instrument I’ve always been ok at. I took lessons when I was younger but I became self-conscious and stopped, which I regret. This represents picking up where my 13-year-old self left off.
These early Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass editions have been passed down through generations of my family, starting with my great-great-great grandmother in 1890. These stories inspired me more than any others in my writing life.
These Nike trainers represent how important running is to me – I use it as an antidepressant. My dad suggested I take it up after a breakdown in my 20s. I nearly gave up so many times, but I kept going. Now it’s a safe space for me; a reprieve from my own mind.
I am happiest when heading off somewhere, passport in hand. I have a panic disorder, which used to be so bad that I couldn’t even go to the corner shop. Now travelling shows me how far I’ve come. Sri Lanka, Arizona and Iceland are a few amazing places I’ve been to recently.
We went over Niagara Falls in a helicopter two years ago. That was all about helping with my anxiety and conquering my fears – of heights and of flying. The children really wanted to do it so I had to swallow all the fear. It worked – I am a lot less afraid now.
Interview by Charlotte Pearson-Methven
Matt’s latest book, Notes on a Nervous Planet, is out now in paperback (Canongate, £8.99*); to see Matt on tour, go to faneproductions.com. To order a copy For £7.19 until 17 March, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640, P&P is free on orders over £15