Some books just speak to you. They seem to access a part of your soul that you weren’t even aware of; that you didn’t even know you needed. This is one such book. I’ve read other books by Matt Haig but none have affected me in the way that this did. I’m speechless. Everyone should read this. Everyone needs this magic in their lives.
This is a book about life, in all of its messy perfection. It’s a fantasy novel, in a way, but it also feels more real than most contemporary fiction. It’s almost impossible to review because it’s impossible to capture the feeling that it gives you – and you only get to experience a book for the first time once. I wouldn’t want to spoil that for anyone. I’ve rarely read a book and felt so profoundly moved.
“We don’t have to do everything in order to be everything, because we are already infinite.”
The Midnight Library is an in-between place, somewhere between life and death. The protagonist, Nora, wants to die; her life has gone in a completely unexpected direction and she no longer has the will to keep herself alive. But instead of dying, she finds herself in a library of endless possibilities – a library where she can live out every other possible life, all the lives that could have happened if she had made different choices, from the large to the small. As she explores all of her other lives, Nora comes to profound realisations about her own – and what it means to be alive.
Matt Haig is known for his self-help books, and whilst this is fiction it has threads of those self-help books running through it. I suspect part of why I love this is that I read it at the perfect time – when I was in exactly the right frame of mind for it. Those who don’t like their books to be too ‘preachy’ may not enjoy this – but I imagine that most will appreciate the cleverness of the story and how well it gives its message.
There are no perfect things in life, so of course this isn’t a perfect book. But it comes close. I encourage everyone to read this book – read it, and seek joy in the small moments that make up humanity.
“It takes no effort to miss the friends we didn’t make and the work we didn’t do and the people we didn’t marry and the children we didn’t have… but it is not the lives we regret not living that are the real problem. It is the regret itself.”
Published by Canongate
Hardback: 13 August 2020