Sunday, December 27, 2020

"The Midnight Library" by Matt Haig

What makes a life worth living?  What would you do differently, if you had the chance to choose a different life?    

These are the questions that lie at the heart of "The Midnight Library" by Matt Haig, the November pick for the Gateway Women/NoMo (NotMom) book club. The book came highly recommended by the book club organizer, Lisa -- but November was a sluggish reading month for me, and I barely started this one before we were on to the pick for December. I set it aside for a while, but picked it up again just before Christmas, and vowed to finish it before the year ended.  

I'll admit this wasn't exactly the most cheerful holiday reading ;) (at least to begin with). I don't think I'm giving *too* much away by telling you that the book begins with an attempted suicide after Nora, our heroine, experiences one too many calamities and  disappointments. She wakes up in the Midnight Library -- presided over by a friendly librarian she knew during her school days -- where she's offered the opportunity to explore her past regrets and different life paths.  

For me, this book started slowly and (as I mentioned above), not especially auspiciously. But once Nora entered the Midnight Library and began trying on her alternate lives, I got hooked. :)  I'm generally not a big reader of science fiction, but I've always been fascinated by time travel stories &/or alternative histories, on both the page and screen. This was thought-provoking, sometimes fun (and even a little humorous at certain points) -- and, ultimately, quite moving. (Near the end of the book, living another life quite happily, Nora visits her old hometown. It's a scene straight out of "It's a Wonderful Life.")  

Those of us who wind up childless not by choice often speculate about the life we might have led, if our dreams of having a family had worked out.  Not everyone in the group loved "The Midnight Library" as much as Lisa did, but I can see why she felt this was a great book for us to discuss!  

When I started reading this book, I was thinking 3.5 stars on Goodreads. I wound up giving it 5. It won me over. :) I closed the book with a smile on my face.    

This was Book #43 read to date in 2020 (Book #4 finished in December), bringing me to 143% of my 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 30 books. I have completed & now exceeded my challenge goal for the year by 13 books, and am (for the moment, anyway...!) 14 books ahead of schedule. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2020 tagged as "2020 books." 


  1. I told dh I thought he might like this one... he finished it in less than 24 hours!

  2. This keeps showing up on lists and posts... I have to add it to the list! Sounds fascinating. Alternative histories are fun to think about. (Even if this starts with much darker content...)

  3. I love that ending. I think I ended up giving it a 4, and I agree, it look me a little while to warm up to it. But then it was very sweet.