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Review: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Matt Haig has achieved another No.1 Sunday Times bestseller with The Midnight Library. The book is not one to be missed. The author of the bestselling books Reasons to Stay Alive and Notes on a Nervous Planet has once again blessed us with an empowering novel.

Finding herself in a sense of hopelessness, due to getting fired from her job, losing her beloved cat, and being in constant conflict with her brother, Nora Seed believed her only escape was to end her life.

Nora unwittingly lands herself in purgatory; a library full of books which contain all her possible life paths. Upon opening each volume, she enters an alternate reality, existing in that moment, as different versions of Nora Seed. From an Olympic swimmer to a polar bear’s dinner, Nora’s potential lives are infinite. She must decide, before time runs out, which life is meant for her. 

‘You can’t have one without the other’ 

Haig draws on the Socratic method of questioning which provides the reader with a way to philosophically contemplate their own life and its meaning. As such, it prompted me to reflect on existential questions; are we fully in control of our lives? Are we responsible for every single detail that goes wrong? Can we truly feel happiness, without knowing the feeling of sadness, too? For Haig, it appears not, as Nora quickly learns that ‘you can’t have one without the other’. Nora’s ‘book of regrets’ dissipates as she lessens the burden on herself upon learning that some things are simply out of her control. 

Studying philosophy myself, like Nora, I related to her journey of realisation and enlightenment. This novel, however, is not only for the keen philosopher, or those with regrets, but for anybody wishing to partake in Nora’s journey and get lost in her story. If you are looking for a little burst of lockdown positivity, you should definitely give this book a go.

‘WOULD YOU HAVE DONE ANYTHING DIFFERENT, IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO UNDO YOUR REGRETS?’

This cleverly crafted novel leaves you wanting more. Every time I put the book down, I wanted to pick it back up again. Haig welcomes you to explore your own life and feel content with your past decisions. The Midnight Library is February’s book choice by popular Facebook group Gals Who Read. The page is a space for female and non-binary individuals to share their favourite books and have discussions about them over Zoom. 

You certainly won’t regret picking up Haig’s book to read and reflect upon. After all, ‘would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?’

Tags: Book Club, book review, Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet, The Midnight Library

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