February 21, 2020
Big Green Bookshop sparks donations of Matt Haig book in the wake of Caroline Flack’s death
by Tom Clayton
Last weekend brought the dreadful news that Love Island and X Factor presenter, and former Strictly Come Dancing winner, Caroline Flack, had taken her own life at the age of just 40.
Flack, who was facing allegations of assault against her partner Lewis Burton, and was due to stand trial next month, had battled with depression for many years. Transmissions of Love Island were halted over the weekend, and tributes paid to the presenter from all corners of the broadcasting community.
In 2015, she had praised Matt Haig’s depression memoir, Reasons to Stay Alive, as “honest and beautiful.” It was an endorsement that led one reader to contact Simon Key of online bookshop—and all-round champs—The Big Green Bookshop. She offered to buy someone in need a copy of the book—prompting an outpouring of similar offers from around the world.
Reporting the story on Monday, The Guardian spoke with Key, who is famed for his “buy a stranger a book day” which runs every Wednesday on Twitter. He said:
“I’m getting thousands of DMs from people who need the book, and who are telling me why … This book has made a difference—lots of people have said it saved their lives. And this is not just about people getting the book, it’s about how they’re getting it. They’ve been brave enough to ask for it, and that’s a step forward.”
Haig was quoted in the same article, saying the initiative was “such a positive thing on what was a pretty bleak weekend … I am also pleased that this book, which I wrote over five years ago, is still able to help people in some small way.”
Elsewhere in the industry, John Blake’s newly-formed publisher Ad Lib announced via The Bookseller that they will release Emily Herbert’s Caroline… The Short, Sweet And Tragic Life of Caroline Flack, a new biography, in April. A share of the book’s profits will be donated to cyber-bullying charities.
Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.