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The Midnight Library: Book summary and reviews of The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

The Midnight Library

A Novel

by Matt Haig

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig X
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
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  • Published Sep 2020
    304 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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About this book

Book Summary

The dazzling reader-favorite about the choices that go into a life well lived, from the acclaimed author of How To Stop Time and The Comfort Book.

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 blockbuster 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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Reviews

Media Reviews

An instant New York Times bestseller
Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction
A Good Morning America Book Club Pick!
One of the LibraryReads 2020 Voter Favorites
Independent (London) One of Ten Best Books of the Year

Included in best-of-year and year-end roundups by The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, New York Public Library, Amazon, Boston Globe, PureWow, St. Louis Public Radio, She Reads, Lit Hub, The Mary Sue, and more.

"Whimsical." —Washington Post, named one of the 15 Feel-Good Books Guaranteed to Lift Your Spirits

"An absorbing but comfortable read...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." —The New York Times

"Charming...a celebration of the ordinary: ordinary revelations, ordinary people, and the infinity of worlds seeded in ordinary choices." —The Guardian

"A brilliant premise and great fun." —Daily Mail


"I can't describe how much his work means to me. So necessary...[Matt Haig is] the king of empathy." Jameela Jamil, actor and host of I Weigh with Jameela Jamil

"A beautiful fable, an It's a Wonderful Life for the modern age – impossibly timely when we are all stuck in a world we wish could be different." —Jodi Picoult, author of My Sister's Keeper

"This brainy, captivating pleasure read feels like what you might get if TV's The Good Place collided with Where'd You Go, Bernadette." —People

"
Thanks to the storytelling chops of writer Matt Haig, The Midnight Library is an engaging read, full of gentle insights and soothing wisdom… This is a book about shedding regret by gaining perspective. It's full of quirky plot lines, with glimpses of opportunities and potential in unexpected places and people." —Psychology Today

"
A charming book." —Dolly Parton, award-winning singer-songwriter

"Although I don't read fiction as much as I used to—because I'm always writing fiction—during these sad and difficult days in 2020 I broke that rule because I needed to ­escape into other people's fictional worlds. One of my favorite books of the year was "The Midnight Library" by Matt Haig, a powerful and uplifting story about regrets and the choices we make."—Alice Hoffman, author of Magic Lessons and Practical Magic

"Clever, emotional and thought-inspiring." —Jenny Colgan, author of The Bookshop on the Corner

"Amazing and utterly beautiful, The Midnight Library is everything you'd expect from the genius storyteller who is Matt Haig." —Joanna Cannon, author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep

"Nora's life is burdened by regrets. Then she stumbles on a library with books that enable her to test out the lives she could have led, including as a glaciologist, Olympic swimmer, rock star, and more. Her discoveries ultimately prove life-affirming in Matt Haig's dazzling fantasy." —Christian Science Monitor

"Would we really make better choices if we could step back in time? Matt Haig's thought-provoking, uplifting new book, The Midnight Library discusses just that, exploring our relationship with regret and what really makes a perfect life." —Harper's Bazaar (UK)

"British author Matt Haig is beloved in his home country, and he's a champion of mental health, which makes him a great person to follow on Twitter. He's best known for the novel How to Stop Time, but he has a new novel just out on September 29 called The Midnight Library, which sounds equally intriguing. In this library, Nora Seed finds endless books which contain different versions of the life she could have lived. This is a must-read for those of us given to endless what ifs." —BookRiot

"Haig is one of the most inspirational popular writers on mental health of our age and, in his latest novel, he has taken a clever, engaging concept and created a heart-warming story that offers wisdom in the same deceptively simple way as Mitch Albom's best tales." —Independent (UK)

"Just beautiful ... Such a gorgeous, gorgeous book." —Fearne Cotton, host of the BBC Radio 1 Chart Show  

"A highly original, thought-provoking novel..." -- Independent (London)

"[The Midnight Library] will follow in the bestselling footsteps of Haig's earlier books ... Part Sliding Doors, part-philosophical quest, this is a moving novel with a powerful mental health message at its heart." —Alice O'Keeffe, The Bookseller

"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." —Booklist (starred review)

"Charming...[Matt Haig] will reward readers who take this book off the shelf." —Publisher's Weekly

This information about The Midnight Library was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Liz M

One of those I'm still thinking about
This book is one of those that lingers in your brain long after you've finished it. It explores mental health, the meaning of life, the power of memory, the power of potential ... and so much more. Who among us hasn't wondered how our lives might have turned out given one or two different choices? This book allowed me to imagine how that might go. Highly recommend.

Pat Horanberg

What if
I read this book a few months ago. It was very good. Haven't we all thought "what if" we had made a different decision where would our life be now. Did we make the correct decision? The main character is able to choose a book see the outcome of alternate choices. It reminds you to appreciate what you have and the grass is NOT greener.

Cathryn Conroy

Boring, Banal, and Predictable: Don't Waste Your Money or Time on This Book
Two succinct ways I viewed this novel by Matt Haig:

1. Underwhelmed
I say that because before I even purchased the book, I knew it had been honored with a slew of "best book" picks from Goodreads to "Good Morning America." Based solely on this, I had certain expectations. They were dashed.

2. Boring, banal, and predictable
The saccharine-sweet story set my teeth on edge.

Nora Seed is 35 years old and desperately unhappy. Living in Bedford, a small town in England about 50 miles from London, she feels like a failure both personally and professionally. She left her fiancé just two days before their wedding, she gave up on competitive swimming when she had Olympic potential, she did finish university with a degree in philosophy, but never managed to translate that into a job she loved—or even just didn't hate. Her brother isn't speaking to her because she quit their rock band. And her beloved cat has died. So Nora decides to die by suicide. When she is in that state between life and death (presumably in a coma), she arrives at the Midnight Library where Mrs. Elm, Nora's school librarian from way back when, is the mistress of this mysterious place. Mrs. Elm informs Nora that she may choose from all these millions of books on the shelves of the Midnight Library to see how her life would have turned out had she made different choices. That is, what if she had gotten married? What if she had pursued swimming and competed in the Olympics? What if she had realized her career dream of becoming a glaciologist? Or that even crazier dream of becoming a rock star? The bulk of the book is Nora coming back to Earth in the guise of these different lives that would have been.

I forced myself to finish it just in case it improved. It didn't. It was mildly amusing at best, boring and banal at worst. Don't waste your money or time on this.

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Author Information

Matt Haig Author Biography

Photo: Kan Lailey

Matt Haig is the number one bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive, Notes on a Nervous Planet and six highly acclaimed novels for adults, including How to Stop Time, The Humans and The Radleys. His latest novel is The Midnight Library and the audiobook edition is read by Carey Mulligan. Haig also writes award-winning books for children, including A Boy Called Christmas, which is being made into a feature film with an all-star cast. He has sold more than a million books in the UK and his work has been translated into over forty languages.

Author Interview
Link to Matt Haig's Website

Other books by Matt Haig at BookBrowse

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