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The Midnight Library

by Matt Haig

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,7942841,471 (3.85)213
"'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? In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig's enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place"--… (more)
  1. 40
    Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (sparemethecensor)
  2. 20
    The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (sparemethecensor)
  3. 10
    Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore (LDVoorberg)
    LDVoorberg: These two books take different approaches at looking who we are versus how events shape us. Oona lives one life in different times, Nora sees her life at the same moment in different trajectories. Side by side they make for an interesting juxtaposition of our perceptions of our own life.… (more)
  4. 00
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» See also 213 mentions

English (270)  Dutch (3)  Norwegian (2)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (276)
Showing 1-5 of 270 (next | show all)
5.0

This was amazing. I needed to read this right now. Five stars because this hit me in all the places. ( )
  Jonez | Sep 23, 2022 |
Really just a lovely read. Not sappy, just a heart felt narrative on people, hopelessness, and hope. ( )
  liltastypuff | Sep 12, 2022 |
I was very interested t read this big bestseller, and very disappointed when I did. At first intrigued by the main character and the premise, I soon became disenchanted with the trite novel's trite didacticism. This is essentially a novelization of "It's A Wonderful Life", that holiday favorite Jimmy Stewart film. Save time and effort, watch the movie! It's more entertaining. ( )
  nmele | Sep 6, 2022 |
I believe this book is geared to those who don't feel they have done much in their lives that others expected them to do or are feeling stuck and have no idea what life is about anymore. The main character takes this to an extreme seeking to end a life of paths she should have gone down, but never did. She is depressed and lonely and tries to make it all end. But, this is really where her life truly begins, in the Midnight library. Here it's always Midnight and is able to see all of her regrets in the largest book in the library. Better yet,she is able to life lives where those regrets don't exist. The book shows the reader that the grass is not always greener on the other side. I liked the purpose of the writers intentions and the thoughts you are may have at the end. But, I had hard time getting through a lot of it because the writing style was very slow. While I enjoyed the ending, the reader was left with a gaping hole of completion to a very specific element to her storyline. ( )
  varishaa | Sep 6, 2022 |
This is in my top five books of the year! The story starts as we meet Nora who is nineteen hours away from her death. The countdown begins as it shows what her final hours of her life are like. When she dies, she goes into the Midnight Library, a library that is filled with books of potential lives Nora could’ve lived if she decided something different. She goes onto live countless lives, learning something new in each of them. The book is so well written and takes a fascinating look at the afterlife. I couldn’t put it down any highly recommend it. ( )
  dabutkus | Sep 4, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 270 (next | show all)
If you’ve never pondered life’s contingencies—like what might’ve happened if you’d skipped the party where you met your spouse—then Matt Haig’s novel The Midnight Library will be an eye-opening experience. This gentle but never cloying fable offers us a chance to weigh our regret over missed opportunities against our gratitude for the life we have.... [Haig's] allusions to multiverses, string theory and Erwin Schrödinger never detract from the emotional heart of this alluring novel.... Haig brings her story to a conclusion that’s both enlightening and deeply satisfying.
 
Few fantasies are more enduring than the idea that there might be a second chance at a life already lived, some sort of magical reset in which mistakes can be erased, regrets addressed, choices altered.... The narrative throughout has a slightly old-fashioned feel, like a bedtime story. It’s an absorbing but comfortable read, imaginative in the details if familiar in its outline. The invention of the library as the machinery through which different lives can be accessed is sure to please readers and has the advantage of being both magical and factual. Every library is a liminal space; the Midnight Library is different in scale, but not kind. And a vision of limitless possibility, of new roads taken, of new lives lived, of a whole different world available to us somehow, somewhere, might be exactly what’s wanted in these troubled and troubling times.
added by LondonLori76 | editNew York Times, Karen Joy Fowler (pay site) (Sep 29, 2020)
 
...“between life and death there is a midnight library,” a library that contains multiple volumes of the lives she could have had if she had made different choices.... Haig’s latest (after the nonfiction collection Notes on a Nervous Planet, 2019) is a stunning contemporary story that explores the choices that make up a life, and the regrets that can stifle it. A compelling novel that will resonate with readers.
 
An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.... This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable. A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.
added by LondonLori76 | editKirkus Reviews (Jul 14, 2020)
 

» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Haig, Mattprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berg, Monique terTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mulligan, CareyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones, and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life.
--Sylvia Plath
Dedication
To all the health workers. And the care workers. Thank you.
First words
Nineteen years before she decided to die, Nora Seed sat in the warmth of the small library at Hazeldene School in the town of Bedford.
Quotations
She knew she should be experiencing pity and despair for her feline friend – and she was – but she had to acknowledge something else. As she stared at Voltaire’s still and peaceful expression – that total absence of pain – there was an inescapable feeling brewing in the darkness. Envy.
The universe tended towards chaos and entropy. That was basic thermodynamics. Maybe it was basic existence too.
Bertrand Russell wrote that ‘To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three-parts dead’. Maybe that was her problem. Maybe she was just scared of living. But Bertrand Russell had more marriages and affairs than hot dinners, so perhaps he was no one to give advice.
A person was like a city. You couldn’t let a few less desirable parts put you off the whole. There may be bits you don’t like, a few dodgy side streets and suburbs, but the good stuff makes it worthwhile.
‘Want,’ she told her, in a measured tone, ‘is an interesting word. It means lack. Sometimes if we fill that lack with something else the original want disappears entirely. Maybe you have a lack problem rather than a want problem. Maybe there is a life that you really want to live.’
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"'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? In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig's enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place"--

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Book description
"'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? In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig's enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place" - WorldCat
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