The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Ok, I’ve read a lot lately about Matt Haig’s books. I’ve meant to increase my exposure to speculative fiction, and Haig’s books seem as good a place to start. If you look on Goodreads, almost all of his books have a 4+ star rating (not that Goodreads ratings matter. Ok, Goodreads reviews may gently nudge me towards a title or two). Haig’s premises to me, seem deeply philosophical, and I love books that make me think. So I finally picked up one of his titles, his newest The Midnight Library. And yes, it did make me think.
Our anti-hero Nora has had a REALLY bad day. Her cat died, she lost her job, and no one is responding to her texts. So Nora decides to die. No, I did not just spoil the plot…the first sentence literally says so.
Because of a choice she makes, Nora finds herself in the Midnight Library, a sort of purgatorial holding place where she is forced to consult a “book of regrets” and then choose from books that hold all the choices she could have made in life. Once she opens a “book of choice” she is transported to that life where she experiences what “could have been”.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve often thought about “what could have been if I’d only…”
Which undoubtedly is a wasteful use of time. This novel reminds me of this waste. I really appreciated the slow and steady character growth Nora exhibits. An example is her view of loneliness. On page 5 Nora states “all though she’d studied enough existential philosophy to believe loneliness was a fundamental part of being human in an essentially meaningless universe”, but by page 120 this view has changed to “amid pure nature solitude took on a different character. It became in itself a kind of connection. A connection between herself and the world. Between her and herself.” Loneliness vs solitude. HUGE paradigm shift. One, we all must make at least once in our life. I’m not going to tell you Nora’s perception of “loneliness” at the end of the book, but you can probably surmise what it will be.
Even though this book is philosophical, it is extremely accessible. It was a perfect “deep” read during a time in our history where I find reading deeply difficult.
It’s a good book! Read it!

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