As our book club comes to an end, we couldn’t be happier to have read The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. A great hug of a book, it’s one that we think everyone should read and we’ve put together our final thoughts along with some of our readers’ favourite quotes. We’ve also got plenty more ideas for our next book club pick and we’re rather curious to know which book you would choose… let us know in the comments!
Content Warning: This post mentions suicide
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?
The only way to learn is to live.
Quote chosen by book club reader, @lonely_book.club⠀
It’s not often that a book completely sweeps you off your feet and draws you into its pages for hours at a time but that’s exactly what The Midnight Library did. The book starts with Nora who feels like she has nothing left to live for and takes an overdose. She awakes in a library, the midnight library, where the shelves are lined with book after book of possible alternative lives she could have had.
At first glance, The Midnight Library might sound a little autobiographical – the author, Matt Haig, has often spoken about his own mental health and how he nearly died by suicide over 20 years ago. Reading The Midnight Library, however, couldn’t have felt less like reading an autobiography as we were instead struck by its universality, its relatability and above all, its hopefulness.
If you’re looking for one of those unputdownable books that’s also an easy read, then you’re in the right place. The Midnight Library captivated us in so many ways and the short, snappy chapters and no-nonsense prose made it one of the most engaging books we’ve read in a long time. The book also focusses on one character and one plot, Nora and her life, which means there’s no danger of getting lost in subplots or trying to remember characters’ names (perfect for squinty-eyed evenings).
Above all, The Midnight Library, is a book of comfort and hope. As Nora tries out all the different lives she could have lived (Olympic swimmer, rock star, landlady of a country pub, married to her ex etc), she feels frustrated that she can’t seem to find a life she wants to stay in but it was hope for the future rather than frustration at the present that shone through the novel. The lives themselves are full of surprises and we were often on the edge of our seats trying to figure out what would come next! It was Nora’s character development, however, that stole the show for us. As she experiences these different lives, she grows in confidence, wisdom and self-knowledge and in creating such a relatable character, Haig managed to make some of this rub off us too. Sprinkled throughout the pages, you’ll find little nuggets of advice or positive mantras and this is one of the reasons it’s so comforting – not only does The Midnight Library provide a welcome distraction or entertainment as you’re reading, it also continues to whisper encouragements in your ear long after you’ve finished reading,
Everyone! (especially if they love fiction) One of those uplifting books that feels like a warm hug and your own little cheerleader all in one, The Midnight Library will have you smiling, crying and recommending it to everyone you know. We can’t think of a better book to bring a little joy to 2020.
Never underestimate the big importance of small things.
Quote chosen by book club reader, @verinagram
Thank you so much to Canongate and Matt Haig for all their help and support in making The Midnight Library our first ever book club pick! We loved The Midnight Library and were so excited to have it as our first ever book club choice.
Want to find out more about our book club? Tap below to head over to our Instagram account where you can find all the details. (Keep an eye out for our January pick!)