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How to Stop Time

By: Matt Haig
Narrated by: Mark Meadows
Length: 10 hrs and 37 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1,835 ratings)
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Summary

'I am old. That is the first thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe. If you saw me you would probably think I was about 40, but you would be very wrong.'

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he's been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to jazz age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot and now craves an ordinary life.

Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover - working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he'd never witnessed them firsthand. He can try to tame the past that is fast catching up with him. The only thing Tom mustn't do is fall in love.

How to Stop Time is a wild and bittersweet story about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change and about the lifetimes it can take to really learn how to live.

©2017 Matt Haig (P)2017 Canongate

Critic reviews

"A rollicking time-hopping fantasy... How to Stop Time will provoke wonder and delight." (Observer)
"Hugely entertaining." (John Boyne, Irish Times)
"Outlandish...heartwarming, perceptive prose." (Anita Sethi, Daily Telegraph)
"A rollicking time-hopping fantasy... How to Stop Time will provoke wonder and delight." (Observer)
"Hugely entertaining." (John Boyne, Irish Times)
"Outlandish...heartwarming, perceptive prose." (Anita Sethi, Daily Telegraph)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Kaggy
  • United Kingdom
  • 17-07-17

Superb as I expected from Matt Haig

I don't suppose any people expect to learn lessons on how to have a wonderful life from a novel about a man who is over four hundred years old, but believe me you will when you read this story. However, please don't fear that this is a boring preachy affair. In fact it is a wonderfully entertaining story that skips across the centuries at a cracking pace and brings us to a conclusion that is satisfying and not wholly predictable.
I am a huge fan of Matt Haig's writing and this is every bit as good as my two big favourites The Humans and The Radleys. I'm sure the forthcoming film will be marvellous but the excellent narration of this book by Mark Meadows will be a hard act to follow.

41 of 43 people found this review helpful

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A marvellous ripping yarn

A colourful romp through history with a heart warming meaning of life type message. Ear candy for any history anoraks that enjoy the gritty detail of social historical references and a bringing to life of past eras. A gripping story is Matt Haigue’s vehicle for transporting us through many ages, particularly Elizabethan England. I couldn’t stop listening, the narrator was ok, I enjoyed his grasp of different accents that were woven throughout. A compulsory listen for history teachers I suppose.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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love it

This book is the fourth book I have read/listened to by Matt haig, the first one being reasons to stay alive.I have absolutely loved all four books and how to stop time is probably joint favorite with reasons to stay alive.I feel that Matt haig has an amazing ability to understand people and I feel that his stories and themes and his way of writing just show so much understanding and empathy, it is so easy to identify what what he says.I would recommend his books to anyone who is fascinated by people and the way in which the human mind works.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Plot does not live up to the concept

I enjoyed this book, but not as much as I thought I was going to.

The central idea of a man ageing 15 times more slowly than normal is a strong one. It generates some nice scenes, and some thoughtful passages on the perception of time and the appreciation of the passing of it.

However there is a "thriller" element to the plot that does not seem fully realised. It is not particularly tense and rather fizzles out towards the end.

Also, the writer makes the same philosophical point too many times and therefore lessens the impact.

The narrators performance is good, well suited to the tone of the book and he handles the various accents competently.
I would recommend this book, but with some reservations.

22 of 25 people found this review helpful

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Loquacious

Would you try another book written by Matt Haig or narrated by Mark Meadows?

No

What will your next listen be?

A fast moving exciting adventure with humor and hopefully some uplifting pieces within the story

Any additional comments?

I have just been reading the reviews for “How to Stop Time” and wonder why I feel so out of step with the majority of the comments. A literary critic would, no doubt, rave about this book, but for me the overuse of similes and metaphors turned this book into a turgid navel gazing collection of time jumping vignettes, so much thinking and remembering, not a lot of doing i.e. finding his daughter.

I found Tom to be a pathetic character who had never grown up, for a man that has lived for over 400 years he appears to have stopped thinking for himself and learnt nothing from his experiences – every small bit of happiness overshadowed by grief/despair and “woe is me”. I would have expected an individual over this length of time to have grown and matured learning from the different experiences and people met over the years and yet he hasn’t - 400 years living in fear – what a waste of time!

I have come to the possible conclusion that this book should be read rather than listened to and would probably appeal to those who enjoy reading Non Fiction or Mindfulness and Wellness books; discovering the hidden meaning within! As you can no doubt ascertain from my comments, I didn’t empathise with Tom, I found the book to be self-indulgent and depressing and spent a lot of time shouting “Get on with it”.

20 of 23 people found this review helpful

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Could have been better

I think the idea of this book had so much potential but somehow it felt lightweight. I found some of the language clumsy and it seemed to fall back on cliches rather than substance. I bit disappointing really

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A little glib, better as a young adult novel

Matt Haig's novel, soon to be a motion picture with Benedict Cumberbatch, has had rave reviews, yet I feel I'm in the minority in saying it fell short of expectations.

Following Tom Hazard, an unusual protagonist with a rare condition which has made him live for centuries, has been searching for his daughter ever since he was forced to leave her. Describing major events in history, Hazard continues to change his identity in order to survive becoming a history teacher as his current persona. All the while being controlled by the mysterious Hendricks. Is it better to live for a short while with love, or for eternity alone?

While the story is imaginative, the characters are underdeveloped and the constant time change is inconsistent. The plot may be a little too juvenile for me, not really to my taste. Enjoy the film.

19 of 23 people found this review helpful

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A captivating novel to learn from

This is my first Matt Haig book and I already want to get a new one! The story was captivating from A to Z and very well told by Mark Meadows. And little I knew when picking it that I would actually apply the philosophy of the final chapters to my own life. An extraordinary tale with learnings, the perfect combination.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Best book so far this year

I was a bit unsure whether this book was my cup of tea from reading the blurb but I am so glad that I got it as it was a truly excellent read. I was hooked from the start and have just ordered a hard copy for my mum! Brilliant storyline, concept and fabulous performance

19 of 23 people found this review helpful

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Badly written and predictable

Shakespeare, Captain Cook, Charlie Chaplin... little imagination and a clunky story. Disappointing and tedious. Forced myself to listen to the end.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Anon
  • 22-05-18

Ugh.

Great until I realized it was a conceptual ripoff of Claire North's "The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August", a book which handled almost identical fundamental issues only in a much more engaging and thought provoking way. And yes, I realize most things are derivative to some extent, but this was unsettling in its proximity. The only thing that prevents North from having an infringement claim is the mere fact that instead of reliving the same life over and over dozens of times, Haig just has his guy live one continuous life. Otherwise the secret society, the scientists trying to find them, the lost love, the examination of mortality... etc etc etc. All poorly executed aping of North.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Katie S
  • 05-08-18

Beautiful story; amazing reading

I’ve been a fan of Matt Haig’s for quite a while. This book blew me away. Such a compelling story, read by an amazing actor. This is a must-listen!!

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  • Barbara Stilwell
  • 25-04-18

Loved it<br />

A most interesting read. Loved it. The narrator really brought the book to life. Well done.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • JohnW
  • 28-10-17

Original story keeps you hooked and guessing what next

Great original idea and entertaining read. I found the ending a bit rushed but perhaps I was just wanting more!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jacob A. Nordby
  • 30-08-17

Antidote to despair wrapped in a great story

Matt Haig is an artist. As such, he has a keen insight into the situation of being human. He suffers along with all of us--thinks and feels deeply about our common pains and delights. I don't know him personally, but his writing is shot through with evidence that these things are true.

Somehow, though, this depth doesn't stop him from writing stories full of humor, mystery, suspense, and love. They are paradoxes, these tales of his. Light and heavy. Calculated and warm. Philosophical but made buoyant with whimsy.

How to Stop Time is another triumph for the art of storytelling and for the hopeful pursuit of living.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Conrad
  • 12-08-17

I loved The Humans but not this one.

I bought this book because The Humans was one of my all-time favorites. When I saw that this book had the same narrator and the same author, I figured I couldn't go wrong. But I did go wrong.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful