How to Stop Time

Matt Haig

fiction fantasy
emotional reflective slow-paced

325 pages | first published 2017

"She smiled a soft, troubled smile and I felt the whole world slipping away, and I wanted to slip with it, to go wherever she was going... I had existed whole years without her, but that was all it had been. An existence. A book with no words."

Tom Hazard has just moved back to London, his old home, to settle down and become a high school history teacher. And on his first day at school, he meets a captivating French teacher at his school who seems fascinated by him. But Tom 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. Tom has lived history--performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.

Unfortunately for Tom, the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: Never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society's watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can't have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past, or finally begin living in the present.

How to Stop Time tells a love story across the ages--and for the ages--about a man lost in time, the woman who could save him, and the lifetimes it can take to learn how to live. It is a bighearted, wildly original novel about losing and finding yourself, the inevitability of change, and how with enough time to learn, we just might find happiness.

What the community thinks

summary of 2190 ratings (see reviews)

Content warnings

Expand filter menu View warnings


reflective 61%
emotional 60%
hopeful 48%
adventurous 46%
mysterious 27%
inspiring 26%
sad 18%
dark 14%
tense 13%
lighthearted 11%
funny 10%
challenging 3%
relaxing 3%
informative 1%


medium 67%
slow 24%
fast 7%

Plot- or character-driven?

Character: 68% | A mix: 16% | Plot: 16%

Strong character development?

Yes: 67% | It's complicated: 16% | No: 14% | N/A: 1%

Loveable characters?

Yes: 61% | No: 21% | It's complicated: 17%

Diverse cast of characters?

No: 51% | Yes: 30% | It's complicated: 15% | N/A: 3%

Flaws of characters a main focus?

Yes: 69% | It's complicated: 15% | No: 12% | N/A: 3%

Average rating