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Review: The Midnight Library

The Midnight Library

Title: The Midnight Library
Author: Matt Haig
Genre: Literary Fiction
Page Count: 336
Published by: Viking
Date Published: September 29, 2020
You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Goodreads Synopsis:

Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?”

A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time.

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

Overall Thoughts:

Matt Haig definitely has a style. Or at least I see a predominate thread in the two stories I’ve read by him: He is drawn to the existential, the “why” of why we are here, the importance of the mercurial day-to-day existence of humanity, and the intimately familiar conversation of the anxious, depressed mind. I recently listened to and loved The Humans this past January and I think if I hadn’t read that so closely to The Midnight Library, I would’ve like the latter more. 

The Midnight Library has a wonderful concept – the idea that all our life decisions could have lead us down dramatically different paths and our main character gets to experience these lives as she so chooses … of course realizing more about herself and the value of a good life along the way. Trying to disentangle the hype of this massively popular novel was admittedly challenging but I found myself less engaged in this story than I was in The Humans – which brought a lot more heart and humour to very similar topics explored here. 

All of this said, I can see why this was so well-received (especially in the pandemic climate of 2020) as it is a great book to open conversations in your own mind on what’s important to you and while it deals with the heavy topic of suicide and depression, it is done lightly; the whole plays out hopeful and mostly positive. It is a charming, quite predictable, little story but I’d still recommend The Humans to this one.

Read This If:

  • Find yourself drawn to the existential questions of your place in life and what is important.
  • Enjoyed The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.
  • Are mentally strong enough to handle some tough topics on mental health, suicide ideation, and depression. 

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