#60 The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

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?

Pages | 304

Published: Canongate Books; Main Edition (13 Aug. 2020)

Target Audience: Adult Contemporary Fiction

Read: 20th August

I’ve read Matt Haig’s children’s books, but I struggled to read his non-fiction book ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’. My Mum got this for me, she said she was saving it for Christmas but decided to give it to me early – I wasn’t complaining! I was eager to get into this book because the premise sounded so interesting and I knew I was in for a ride that would challenge my thoughts.

This was easy to read. I read it over the course of a couple of days and every time I opened the book to dive back in, it was seamless to return to the world of Nora Seed.

There was so much to Nora Seed, and so much more that I feel I still have to learn about her. Nora offered an experience into a world that I think everyone has thought of before. ‘What would your life have been like if you did something different?’ As humans, we’re curious and constantly challenging the limits of life. The concept of this story was brilliantly executed.

Nora definitely had a lot more regrets than I ever remember having but I felt inspired by her regrets and the way her journey evolved from a person who didn’t believe she had much, to a person who believed she had everything.

This book sung to me because I do suffer from depression, and depression does take you to that dark place where getting to the light does seem impossible. Unlike Nora though, I don’t imagine myself in a different life. I have thought about who I’d be if I was different or made a different choice, but the fact is that I wouldn’t be ‘me’ anymore. So, despite all the challenges in life, I’m happy where I am.

However, Nora had to learn this, and it was interesting to stay in her headspace for a while. She really was a complex character and it was through her different lives that I learnt the most about her. It was odd to start a story and not know the character, but I rather enjoyed the way Nora’s life unfolded here and the glimpses I got of her personality that only made sense when put together.

Surprisingly easy to visualise. I didn’t think it would be with all the multiple lives but no, the image in my head was very clear.

– This book is very thought provoking and mood changing. I felt powerful while reading it and like I was on an adrenaline ride. It made me re-evaluate my own life choices and where I currently am in my life, and like Nora, realise that there is much going for me just as I am. I think in some way, this book can also serve as an inside to what having depression feels like – to those that can’t sympathise or have no understanding of it because a lot of the lives Nora visited were perfectly lovely but she still couldn’t find the happiness to stay.

This made her decisions more powerful because it was showing a change in her character and her own thought process and working through her lives allowed me to examine my own life without judgement or critique. I would hands-down recommend this book to all my friends. It was a true experience to read it and one I greatly enjoyed.

I think I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed this book. I already knew Matt Haig as a great author, but I think I was a little nervous to read this because of how complex I expected it to be. I will always be really into books that are thought provoking and books that make me re-evaluate things but what was especially great about this book is that it took those elements and turned it into a thought that I could reflect back on myself – something which I haven’t encountered before, and I really appreciated it.

This wasn’t just being able to ‘connect’ or ‘sympathize’ with the character. It was more about being utterly relieved that thoughts about life and depression I have were mirrored so acutely in Nora’s many lives. It was sort of an intense read for me but I loved it.

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