I found out about this book when I saw a tweet from a friend that said she was reading the book. I’ve read a couple of Matt Haig’s books previously, the two that I’ve read are “Reasons To Stay Alive” and “How To Stop Time“. I liked his writing simply because he writes insightfully about the illness of depression. I know many people in my life who have this crippling illness so reading the work of Matt Haig affirms how crippling this disease can be.
When I downloaded the book, on first reading I thought “oh this is actually kind of a fiction version of anxiety and depression” and indeed it reads that way initially. However, what the midnight library is actually about, well it touches on a theme that I have often thought about in my life. What if you can go back in time and change the choices that you’ve made in your life? How would your life have turned out if you made different choices at different times of your life? That is the type of question that this book is about specifically.
According to the book, between life and death, there is this in-between space where there is a library and each book has a different version or a different life of yourself. So we have the protagonist who is Nora and what happens is Nora is really depressed. She’s highly anxious, she doesn’t feel as if her life is going well and she’s fearful about a lot of things. Her pet has died and she’s overwhelmed with this futility of not wanting to go on. So what she does is she commits suicide and she goes into that kind of space between life and death where she meets Mrs. helm, a librarian in this midnight library. It is an expansive library with all these books and she can live through the life in each of these books in a different way. What happens is in some of her life she’s a researcher, in another life she’s a mother, in another life she’s an Olympic star. She gets to relive parts of her life differently and in each life that she has, any time she feels uncomfortable she can go back to the library and pick another book and live another life.
As we’re reading through the story we get to see her kind of grow and evolve and find out certain things about herself. There is one particular life towards the end she really likes and she thinks this is the life where she needs to be. However, she comes across this realization and I’m not going to actually divulge what that realization is but it’s actually quite charming.
This book is a message for all of us that we can have regrets in our life but ultimately we make the choices that we make for whatever reason and that we should live our life as it is today and accept the choices that we made. The kind of message that I got upon reading it is that you know sure we could pontificate and speculate if we had made different choices but the thing is, we’ve made the choice that we have made since then it’s taken us onto a particular journey in our life to this point where we are today. Now it is up to us to decide what choices we make from this point to go forward and to make our next life be in whatever way we want it to be. We are where we are because it is what it is. We are where we are because we made the choices in the past to get to this point but it is up to us to ultimately make our life what it is and we only have one life so therefore the choices that we make are going to be relevant for the life that we live in today for now and for the future.
I really enjoyed the midnight library and would highly recommend it if you want to read a book that is actually quite light-hearted but brings you also the realization of what it is that you’ve done in your life and how not to take things for granted in our life too. So thank you for reading. Let me know if you have read the midnight library and I look forward to catching up with you at the next book review. Bye for now.