The Midnight Library

The Midnight Library
Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič / Unsplash

Genre: Fiction

Author: Matt Haig

"That sounds like a movie story. Is there a movie about this book?" That's what my husband said when I summarized this book to him. If you're looking for good fiction to read, I definitely recommend The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. I picked up this book after my co-worker posted about how great of a read it was on our Zoom channel, and she was not exaggerating. You know when you start reading a book and don't want to stop until you finish it? It was that kind of book for me.

Nora Seed, at the age of 35, is full of regrets over her unfulfilled dreams, the decisions she made in life, and missed opportunities. One day, she decides she cannot take it anymore and chooses to end her life. However, the story gets dramatic and interesting when, instead of ending in a peaceful place as she had thought, she finds herself in the Midnight Library, a place between life and death. This midnight library is filled with books, each one telling the story of her life if she had made different choices. By choosing these books, she gets to discover her parallel lives and see what it would have been like if she had chosen different paths. These books are her answers to the "what ifs" of her life.

Like Nora, many of us may also question our life choices and wonder what our lives would have been like if we had taken alternative paths or made different decisions. That’s quite natural. Sometimes, one little decision can define your whole life trajectory. However, there is no guarantee that the outcomes will always be ideal. We may think, "What if I had done this or that?" but dwelling on the past only robs us of the present moment. The author wonderfully conveys the message that life is lived in the present, and if you appreciate your current life, you can always make the best out of it.

As you read this book, you will naturally find yourself reflecting on your own life as well—or at least, I felt that way. The story of Nora is a good reminder that while we may not have control over all aspects of our lives, we do have the power to shift our perspective and find meaning in our own unique journey. Nora is such a relatable character in many ways, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself relating to her life in one way or another.

I went back to my Kindle notes and found so many quotes that I highlighted. But for this review, let me share some of my favorite quotes from this book:

The only way to learn is to live.

I think most of the time we underestimate the power of just being alive. The gift of every day is itself the best thing that can happen to any of us. If there is no you, there is nothing. So, embrace your life. If you have life, you also have the ability to shape it and make the most out of it at any moment. Each day is an opportunity to grow, learn, and create new memories. Remember, the simple act of living is a journey full of possibilities.

Never underestimate the big importance of small things.

Life is made up of small things. The joy of everyday life is what makes our life worth living. It’s not always about wealth or fame; life is lived every day, in every moment. The joy of warm sunshine, a sip of coffee, laughing with loved ones, friendships—these things make life worth living. It's these simple pleasures that add up to a fulfilling and meaningful life.

You can choose choices but not outcomes.

We all tend to think, "I could have done that thing differently," or "I could have made a different decision at that moment." But just because you think you could have made a different choice doesn't mean it would have led to the best outcome. I know it sounds like a cliché, but you are right where you need to be. You can still make changes in your life. Don’t dwell on the past; embrace the present and live your life without regrets. I believe we always try to make the best decisions at any point in life with the ability and resources we have. There is no point in looking back and regretting those decisions. We can learn from them and act differently, but dwelling on the past doesn't serve us well.

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.

Life is all about perspective. You can look at your life and be super grateful to be alive, to have a roof over your head, and to have family and loved ones. Or you can look at the same life and focus on everything you lack, everything that has gone wrong for you. Depending on what you focus on—abundance or scarcity—you will have an entirely different life experience. So, perspective is all that matters.

What sometimes feel like a trap is actually just a trick of the mind.

A lot of the time, we tend to perceive situations or challenges as confining or insurmountable, while in reality, they may be illusions created by our thoughts and perceptions. For example, you may feel like you are stuck in a job with no prospects in life. However, by challenging this belief, you might find opportunities for training, personal development, networking, and even new job prospects. The same is true for relationships or personal goals. The perception and reality could be entirely different. That’s why it is always helpful to reflect and look at any situation as objectively as we can.

Overall, The Midnight Library is an interesting book. I was hooked right from the beginning and always looked forward to seeing which parallel life Nora would choose and how it would turn out. I read and re-read the last few pages of this book because the author ends it beautifully on such a positive note. I am sure if you decide to read this book, you won’t be disappointed either.

I hope you find this review helpful. If you decide to read this book, let me know. We can discuss it further together. If you have already read it, I want to know which of Nora’s lives you were rooting for. I am always down for discussing any book and exchanging thoughts and ideas.

Thank you for swinging by!

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