Introducing our Joules Book Club! An interview with author, Matt Haig

We’re so excited to finally introduce our book club and our first ever book club choice, The Midnight Library by Matt Haig! Described as a great big hug of a book and It’s a Wonderful Life in written form, we can’t think of a better read to kick off our book club with. We sat down with Matt Haig (virtually of course) to ask him a few questions about his book in an exclusive interview.

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Photo credit: Ken Lailey

Thank you very much for joining us Matt. Let’s start with the biggest question, where did you first get the idea for The Midnight Library?

I wanted to write a parallel life story for AGES. But it wasn’t until two years ago when I got the idea of a library of all our lost lives that I thought ‘yes, now I have it!’ I started by writing about the library itself, about all these shelves going on towards infinity, and I thought that was the right metaphor for all the different possible ways we could live our lives.

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For Nora, books are a window or a portal onto other lives. Do books play a similar part in your own life?

I think that is what novels are, really, when you think about it. They are a way to access other worlds for a while. Try out other more fun or more dangerous types of existence. Reading is the closest we get to entering other universes.

“Amid pure nature […] solitude took on a different character. It became itself a kind of connection. A connection between herself and the world. And between her and herself.” (p126)

The Midnight Library is full of beautiful quotes and images like this one, do you have any tips for feeling connected with nature or the present?

I think being in nature is so important. I think a lot of modern anxiety is caused by being disconnected from the natural world and our natural selves. I think long walks in the countryside can be very healing. Clean air, green views, steep hills, away from the world of stress and social media. Working out a trail, getting your bearings. It feels like getting your own bearings too. We are natural creatures and nature reminds us of that. Cooking as well can do this for me. Cooking a really good curry feels like a meditation sometimes. Or mashing up a really good homemade hummus with plenty of cumin and paprika. An active focus on the present moment. Oh, and books of course. Books are my portable therapists.

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Some people have described this book as helping them achieve better mental health wellbeing, did you intend it to be this way?

Well, kind of. I wrote this novel as a kind of therapy for myself. I wanted to write a book about coming to terms with life choices and regrets and the imperfect universe we find ourselves in. I wanted it to make people feel the way the film It’s A Wonderful Life makes me feel. A kind of new appreciation of what we already have. A sudden awareness of the magic and wonder of existence.

What do you hope readers take away from The Midnight Library?

I hope they find it entertaining, but also I hope it gives them something to think about. I always aim to mix the two together – to make the more philosophical stuff part of the story. To keep it moving along but making people feel a bit better about life and their existence in general.

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Thank you so much, Matt, for answering all our questions. We absolutely devoured The Midnight Library and are so excited to have it as our 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.

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