Title: The Midnight Library
Author: Matt Haig
Page Count: 304
Publication Date: 2020
Category/Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Magic Realism, Science Fiction, Mental Health, Contemporary
Good Reads Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.2)
My Rating: ★★★★☆(4.0)
Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?
A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time.
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?
In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place
This book is not just about Nora Seed, the main character. It is about everyone that is filled with regrets, unfinished plans, what ifs and a gaping big hole in the middle of life.
When Nora tries to end her life she is transported to a library stocked with books of all the other lives she could have/would have/should have lived, guided by a gentle hand in a familiar face and a book of regrets. Within these books she is able to transplant herself into any of those other lives that she feels would have been a better fit for her.
Spoiler alert: There are no better lives.
“It is easy to mourn the lives we aren’t living. Easy to wish we’d developed other other talents, said yes to different offers. Easy to wish we’d worked harder, loved better, handled our finances more astutely, been more popular, stayed in the band, gone to Australia, said yes to the coffee or done more bloody yoga.
It takes no effort to miss the friends we didn’t make and the work we didn’t do the people we didn’t do and the people we didn’t marry and the children we didn’t have. It is not difficult to see yourself through the lens of other people, and to wish you were all the different kaleidoscopic versions of you they wanted you to be. It is easy to regret, and keep regretting, ad infinitum, until our time runs out.
But it is not lives we regret not living that are the real problem. It is the regret itself. It’s the regret that makes us shrivel and wither and feel like our own and other people’s worst enemy.
We can’t tell if any of those other versions would of been better or worse. Those lives are happening, it is true, but you are happening as well, and that is the happening we have to focus on.”
This book is beautifully written and emotional. As we jump around with Nora from life to life, we take a journey that is more about living life and learning what really matters instead of idealizing things that aren’t. Every life, each decision and choice made is filled with it’s own mix of despair, pain and regrets that must be accommodated and handled.
It is this generation’s “Its a Wonderful Life” reminding us life is about perspective and living.