Title: The Midnight Library
Author: Matt Haig
Date/year published: 2020
Genre: Fantasy. Speculative Fiction. Science Fiction. Personally, I’d add philosophy as well.
Format: I started it as an audio book on the Libby app but didn’t finish before my loan ran out. Purchased and finished it in print (hardback) because I knew I would want a copy of my own, the wait list was another 6-8 weeks, and I was less than 40 minutes from finishing the audiobook.
Why did I choose to read it: I read a synopsis somewhere (probably Libby) and it sounded like something I would enjoy.
“Nora Seed. finds herself… faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.” – From book description on audiobook.
First, trigger warning and sort-of-spoiler, a woman who attempts suicide finds herself in a library of every possible choice for her life. It may be difficult for someone who lives/dealt with severe depression or attempted suicide to get past the opening few chapters. I’ll be honest, the first bit was worrisome as I myself wasn’t up for a challenging, dark, depressing book.
However, once past the nitty gritty it’s a book about hope with smatterings of philosophy tossed about in conversation. I’m sure there are some out there who would find the bits of philosophy unsettling or challenging to their own beliefs. But that’s the reason I wanted a hard copy, to reread, absorb, and identify them.
Nora Seed is likeable and relatable. Her frame of mind was well portrayed, as was her shifting from despair to hope. Through each life, each choice, she learned something about herself. You would think a book about multiple alternative lives would have too many characters to keep track of, but that’s not the case. Each alternative life showcases how one woman’s choices affected those around her, for the better or worse.
What’s that Rolling Stones’ quote? “You can’ always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.” Pretty much sums it up.
Would I re-read or recommend it? As mentioned, I bought a print copy after listening to it, so yes. It is well written and flows easily, despite the sometimes-grim subject matter.