6 Degrees of Separation: Reasons to Stay Alive

September 5, 2015 | 9 comments


6 Degrees of Separation (hosted by Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman) is my favourite book meme. The goal is to construct a chain with 6 other books, using any criteria you want, and see where you end up.

This month, the starting book is Matt Haig’s memoir Reasons to Stay Alive. I haven’t read it, but according to the book description, it is about making the most of your time on earth.

Another book about making the most of your time on earth is Before I Die (Now Is Good) by Jenny Downham. It’s about teenager Tessa Scott who has leukemia and only a few months left to live. She makes a list of things she wants to do (the Before-I-die-list) and together with neighbour boy Adam sets out on trying all the things that will make her feel alive. I had seen the movie from 2012, starring Dakota Fanning as Tessa, before I read the book, but I still cried pretty much the entire book. The book and the movie are both filled with (and excellently conveys) so many feelings, which in my opinion are the best kinds of books and movies.

John Green’s masterpiece The Fault in Our Stars is another book about a terminally ill teenager that made me cry. It is about the girl Hazel Grace Lancaster, who together with the boy Augustus Waters who she met in cancer support group, embarks on a life-affirming journey. Like Before I Die, it was made into a movie in 2014, starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort as Hazel and Augustus.

Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort also starred together in the movie Divergent in 2014, based on the dystopian novel Divergent by Veronica Roth. It is the first in a trilogy about a society divided into different fractions, each valuing a particular virtue. The main character, Tris Prior, doesn’t fit into any single fraction and embarks on a quest to discover the truth about who she is (and fight evil along the way).

It is difficult to not draw parallels between Divergent and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games (made into a movie in 2012) is the first in a dystopian trilogy about a world divided into different districts, where representatives for each district is forced to fight each other to death. Like Divergent, it features a strong female character (Katniss Everdeen) who refuses to conform to the rules and fights evil no matter what it will cost her. In the movie, Katniss is played by Jennifer Lawrence.

Jennifer Lawrence played one of the main characters (Tiffany) against Bradley Cooper in the movie adaption of The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. It is about Pat who believes his life is a movie directed by God, and that he will be rewarded with a happy ending (aka reconciling with his ex-wife) if he follows the mission God has given him. Things get a bit complicated when he meets Tiffany (who is dealing with problems of her own).

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence also starred together in the movie adaption of Ron Rash’s novel Serena. It’s set in 1929 and follows newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton who travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains. What starts as a intense, passionate marriage soon begin to unravel.


This time, my chain took me from a memoir about mental health, via a variety of novels (and their movie counterparts) to end with a novel where the sanity of the main character definitely is questionable.

Visit Annabel and Emma to see their chains. Or make your own. Starting with Reasons to Stay Alive, where will you end up?


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