CORONABOBS ISOLATION DAY 147 – Diary of a Self-Isolator 16.8.2020 BLOG 18th August 2020

CORONABOBS ISOLATION DAY 147 – Diary of a Self-Isolator Sunday 16th August 2020

Matt Haig on the best books to build mental resilience

Reading isn’t a solitary, introverted activity, it’s about connecting with people and the world. In times of pain and trauma that becomes even more essential. As James Baldwin said: “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.”

Pretty much every book I have ever loved has played a part in building mental resilience, because every great one offers us a way not just to escape our own mind but to expand it. Yet there are particular books you come across at the right time that really offer the advice you need, to help fortify those mental defences.

One that has helped me is the Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön’s reflection on coping with difficult times, When Things Fall Apart. Chödrön offers no false comfort, exploring how it is possible to cope with suffering not by running away from it but by embracing it as an integral part of life. “The most fundamental aggression to ourselves,” she writes, “the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” This book encourages and enables the reader to do just that, and to see that only by accepting an uncertain world can we ever experience joy.

Biographies and memoirs can be great sources of inspiration and resilience – I’m a particular fan of old-school classics by Laurie Lee and David Niven. In My Name Is Why, Lemn Sissay tells how social services separated him from his mother just after he was born. At first he lived with a foster family and then, as his mental health deteriorated, in a succession of loveless children’s homes. His account of a childhood spent under neglectful authorities is heart wrenching, but ultimately hopeful. His resilience and bravery shine through on every page.

Herman Hesse’s novel Siddhartha is the story of a man’s spiritual awakening at the time of the Gautama Buddha, but also serves as a guide to life. First published in 1922, it was translated into English in 1951 and became a countercultural classic among hippies in the 60s. It is full of wise nuggets on the themes of spirituality and acceptance: “I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.”

Rachel Clarke weaves together an account of her training as a doctor who came to specialise in palliative care, the stories of her patients, and her father’s death in Dear Life. I read it while coming to terms with the death of a family friend, and found it full of honesty and tender wisdom about life and the process of dying. It managed the brilliant and paradoxical feat of helping you love life a little more and fear death a little less.

While recovering from a breakdown in my 20s, I was living with my parents and sleeping in my childhood bedroom. One of the books I pulled off the shelf was AA Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh. These stories of the bear with very little brain offered such warm comfort. It can also be read as a book personifying mental states. Piglet has anxiety, Rabbit seems to have narcissistic personality disorder, Tigger is hyperactive, Eeyore is depressed and Pooh is confused. And Christopher Robin probably hallucinated the whole thing.


  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is published by Canongate (£16.99).


Between life and death there is a library.

When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger.

Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?

About the Author

Matt Haig is the number one bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and Notes on a Nervous Planet and six highly acclaimed novels for adults, including How to Stop Time, The Humans and The Radleys. He has also written many books for children and has won the Blue Peter Book Award, the Smarties Book Prize and been nominated three times for the Carnegie Medal. He has sold more than a million books in the UK and his work has been translated into over forty languages.


On Sunday night we watched two hours of “Naughty, Naughty! Utterly Outrageous Comedy on Channel 5. No, it wasn’t that bad, or may be we have low morals. 

Comedy is my favourite form of TV and this was some of the best TV.





If you do what you need, you’re surviving. If you do what you want, you’re living.-Unknown


Happiness is…reading AA Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh


Q: What happened to the guy who sued over his missing luggage? A: He lost his case.


Love is…what helps you clear life’s hurdles together


5 Things To Be Grateful For During Lockdown/Coronavirus

We are grateful  Lockdown gives us  a time…

  1. A time to read any book…A time to read books to build mental resilience.
  2. A time to read When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön…A time to read Herman Hesse’s novel Siddhartha.
  3. A time to read Laurie Lee biography…A time to read David Niven’s biography.
  4. A time to read The Midnight Library by Matt Haig…A time to read Winnie-the-Pooh by AA Milne.
  5. A time to read Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig …A time to read A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig


DAY 134        18 Times – 162 Feet              Cumulative Total 19,971 Feet


  1. Here Comes Summer Jerry Keller 2:08
  2. Summertime
  3. Blue Bayou Roy Orbison 2:29
  4. In Summer Billy Fury 2:44


Country                 Confirmed cases  Deaths

1              US                          5,443,162              170,548

2              Brazil                    3,359,570              108,536

3              Mexico                 525,733                 57,023

4              India                     2,702,742              51,797

5              UK                         321,064                 41,454

6              Italy                      254,235                 35,400

7              France                   243,025                 30,307

8              Spain                     359,082                 28,646

9              Peru                       535,946                 26,281

10           Iran                       345,450                 19,804


UK Deaths yesterday 3


Global cases         Updated 18 Aug at 08:40 local

Confirmed            21,826,342           +232,735

Deaths                   773,152                

Recovered             13,888,301           +294,623



©2020 Phil M Robinson