Genre: Fantasy Fiction
Publisher: Canongate Books
Published: August 2020
Buy at: Buy on Amazon | Add to Goodreads
Summary and Story:
“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?” The Midnight Library by Matt Haig builds on this theme and sure does deliver.
In a moment of darkness, when Nora Seed decides to end her life, she does not cross over. Instead, she arrives at a library. The Midnight Library that offers her a chance to undo her regrets. To relive a version of the life she wishes she had. But with one caveat. If at any time she feels dissatisfied, she would be transported right back. On the contrary, if she finds a life worth living, she would gradually forget about the Midnight Library.
Faced with the possibility of swapping her current life with a new one, she travels through the Midnight Library to decide on that one fulfilling life. Does she find the perfect life? Not giving any spoilers here. You would have to read the book for that.
We all have regrets. We often wonder how our life would have turned out if we took that one decision differently. So does the protagonist, Nora Seed. Quitting the band just as they were about to sign a major record deal. Walking out on her fiancé a few days before the wedding. Giving up on swimming that adversely affected her father’s health (who was trying to live his broken dream through her). Not being able to save her cat, Volts, from being run over.
If you have been following my reviews for a while, you would know that I am not big on award-winning or popular books. This one has been doing rounds for a while with mostly positive reviews that got me skeptical. Although the Goodreads Choice Award winners are generally excellent reads. Nonetheless, I picked it up as my first read of the year. And I am really glad I did.
“Never underestimate the big importance of small things”
This is my first book by the author and I liked the way he wove fantasy and philosophy. It is peppered with great insights without being too overbearing. You cannot help but compare it to your own life. I also liked the attention to detail. Nora does not just smoothly fit into each life (as is the case with a number of books on the multi-universe theme). Instead, she does find herself lost in most cases.
The writing style is lucid and grabs you from the word go. You connect with Nora and feel her heartbreaks. Since the author has himself dealt with depression and was suicidal at one point of time, the book is not judgmental.
“The only way to learn is to live”
The book is thought-provoking. We often live in the past regretting that one decision. The could have, the should have, and the would have. The grass always seems greener on the other side. But would that have been a perfect life for us? Would it have been better or worse than the life we currently live? We can never tell.
It does have a lot of similarities with It’s A Wonderful Life. The pacing is uneven and does get slow in quite a few places. Also, as expected, the end is a bit predictable. That said, it did not take away the charm of the book for me and had me turning the pages.
“Because a pawn is never just a pawn. A pawn is a queen-in-waiting. All you need to do is find a way to keep moving forward. One square after another. And you can get to the other side and unlock all kinds of power.”
I loved the book and would highly recommend it. It is my first 5-star read of the year and I hope to keep the momentum going. In the current times and with the pandemic not ending anytime soon, it is an uplifting book with an all important message. That it would all be okay. We just need to hang in there and keep the faith.
Trigger warning: Suicide, Self harm.
This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla, and happily SPONSORED BY RRE Studios and SHOWCASE Events.
About the author
Matt Haig was born in Sheffield, England in1975. He writes books for both adults and children, often blending the worlds of domestic reality and outright fantasy, with a quirky twist. His bestselling novels are translated into 28 languages. The Guardian has described his writing as ‘delightfully weird’ and the New York Times has called him ‘a novelist of great talent’ whose writing is ‘funny, riveting and heartbreaking’.
Image by Birgit Böllinger from Pixabay.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a very small percentage of the sale at no cost to you.
January 27, 2021 @ 1:48 pm
A nice review.
January 27, 2021 @ 6:56 pm
Thank you 🙂
January 31, 2021 @ 11:47 pm
This seems like a good read . Thanks for sharing this
February 7, 2021 @ 5:50 pm
It indeed is Jyoti. Do pick it up.
February 8, 2021 @ 10:25 pm
Very nice review. It sounds interesting and intriguing. And I really like the quotes. Adding it to my TBR. Thanks.
February 14, 2021 @ 9:18 pm
Thank you Tarang 🙂
January 27, 2021 @ 11:18 pm
This book seems very simple yet touched a different area. Life is full of ups and down, tests and turns. What decisions e take at a certain pint decides the future course. Sometimes woven if we utmost care a decision we took may not be the right one. But can we undo it? No, may be because we don’t have any Midnight Library :). I liked your review.
January 31, 2021 @ 11:24 pm
Thank you Alpana :). It is indeed an interesting concept.
January 27, 2021 @ 11:40 pm
With every book review post you inspired me dear. honestly nowadays I did not get enough time to read new books. the plot of this book sounds so relatable to me and I agree that most of us think too much about past. and think that things could have been better .
January 31, 2021 @ 11:25 pm
I am glad to read that, Surbhi. I agree, we often live in the past instead of working on making the best of our present.
January 28, 2021 @ 12:25 pm
This book looks interesting . Will read it.
January 31, 2021 @ 11:25 pm
Thank you Ruchita 🙂
January 28, 2021 @ 12:44 pm
This book seems interesting. Thanks for sharing a detailed review.
January 31, 2021 @ 11:26 pm
Thank you Prerna 🙂
January 28, 2021 @ 2:47 pm
wow..this book is definitely a must read. We do have lots of regret and want to undo many thing to make it perfect. But again let bygones be bygone and live the life with acceptance.
January 31, 2021 @ 11:26 pm
It sure is, Swati. Do check it out.
January 29, 2021 @ 12:39 am
Sounds interesting, a great review!
January 31, 2021 @ 11:27 pm
Thank you Monidipa 🙂
January 29, 2021 @ 5:12 am
Thanks for introducing the writer. Sounds pretty interesting.
January 31, 2021 @ 11:28 pm
My pleasure Sonia :). I was skeptical about all the buzz but it is well-deserved hype.
January 29, 2021 @ 1:16 pm
Like they say, “the grass is always green on the other side”. If given a choice, how many would choose to live the same life as opposed to something else that they admired? However, we may not know the challenges that the other life brings with it. Seem like an intriguing book – treatment seems different of how such a serious topic is handled through fiction. Will add it to my reading list.
January 31, 2021 @ 11:29 pm
Exactly Vasumathi. It all lies in the way the concept is executed and the author has done a great job.
January 29, 2021 @ 3:31 pm
Interesting book and review Ritu…The only way to learn is to live…I am doing just that. Going through a really bad period. This too shall pass am sure.
January 31, 2021 @ 11:30 pm
Sending you tons of hugs, Harjeet. I am here any time you need to talk. Just hang in there, this too shall pass.
January 29, 2021 @ 5:53 pm
A very intriguing idea of book. Your review is also very honest and also inspires to read.
January 31, 2021 @ 11:31 pm
Thank you Shail 🙂
January 29, 2021 @ 7:46 pm
That’s absolutely true grasses always seem greener on another side; we spent most of the life thinking Wish we could change our past decisions. But yes, that is something beyond our control. Another honest and crisp review for the book ‘The midnight Library’ Adding the book to my TBR list. This year I am trying my best to get back to my reading routine.
January 31, 2021 @ 11:38 pm
Thank you Archana. I loved the overall concept of the book. It is the now we need to work on than live in the past.
January 30, 2021 @ 11:20 am
A great review. I will check the book out. 🙂
January 31, 2021 @ 11:42 pm
Thank you Payal 🙂
January 30, 2021 @ 4:13 pm
Sounds interesting, thanks for sharing Ritu!
January 31, 2021 @ 11:44 pm
Thank you Priyanka 🙂
January 31, 2021 @ 1:19 pm
I really liked your review and this book seems to have touched all the nooks and corners of the life and is worth reading. Will add it to my TBR list
January 31, 2021 @ 4:01 pm
The take away from the book and the way you wrote them is just perfect.
January 31, 2021 @ 11:45 pm
Thank you for your kind words, Sivaranjini 🙂
January 31, 2021 @ 5:04 pm
Wonderful review of this book. Yes one can totally relate with what’s going on with the protagonist. I will definitely try to read this one.
January 31, 2021 @ 11:45 pm
Thank you Abha 🙂
Sindhu Vinod Narayan
February 1, 2021 @ 1:57 am
This plot seems interesting and j loved the detailed review. I will try to add it to my TBR
February 2, 2021 @ 8:14 am
The book seems to be interesting as well as thoughtful. Thanks for sharing the inspiring review of this book.
January 31, 2021 @ 8:29 pm
This is a great review, would love to check out.
January 31, 2021 @ 11:46 pm
Thank you Nehal 🙂
January 31, 2021 @ 8:46 pm
I liked the melange of fantasy and a library, must be surely an interesting read as you mentioned. I usually like something that is different, off-beat, this suits me well.
January 31, 2021 @ 11:47 pm
It indeed is Srishti. Do pick it up.
February 1, 2021 @ 2:08 am
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is in my TBR list for quite sometime now and the only reason for me to not purchase it right away is because my book shelves are over flowing… Reading this 5 star review just makes it more tempting to purchase right away.
February 7, 2021 @ 5:48 pm
I can so relate to that, Amritha. Our library is literally overflowing and I hate unhauling.
February 1, 2021 @ 7:33 am
This is future reading. Reading in the times of our next generation. Totally enjoyed reading about the book itself I sure will like the book too. I wish I could do something like this in real life. Would be fun to imagine
February 7, 2021 @ 5:49 pm
Exactly Urvashi. We often wonder how things would have turned out. But I also like the overall message.
February 8, 2021 @ 12:21 pm
This one’s been on my TBR for ever so long. Five stars is a great rating and makes me want to pick up the book rightaway. Also, I completely love the premise – trying out alternate life-choices is so intriguing.
February 14, 2021 @ 9:17 pm
That is exactly the reason I picked it up too. Thanks for stopping by, Tulika 🙂
March 20, 2021 @ 3:03 pm
I thought it was okay. I much much prefer The Humans by the same author.
March 26, 2021 @ 12:40 pm
The title definitely caught my attention and made me curious about the book. Plus your review..damn you are right that everybody has some guilt and regret for a thing or two. The thing which could have been different if we would have taken the different decision sosituatio9n would have been different so the regret wouldn’t be haunting us.
I must tell you that I prefer nonfiction books but, this is gonna be an exception. This one has gone into my TBR list and definitely gonna in my bok collection real soon.
Thanks for writing so wonderfully, it has made really curious about the book.