The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig

What happens when you’re at death’s door, in this in-between time and space? What if, instead of finding yourself in a dark tunnel and following the light at the end of it as your past flashes through your mind, you find yourself in the Midnight Library, which offers rows and rows of books of the different lives you could have lived? Has your life been fulfilling so far, did it make sense, if only to you? Given the choice and reflecting upon it, would you have chosen a different route, one of the thousands other lives that could have been if only you’d made a different decision there and then?
This novel, a realistic sci-fi if there’s such a thing, is a brilliant and refreshing take on second chances, on Life with a capital L, on hope and regrets. “To live is to suffer”, author Matt Haig says through his Midnight librarian, Mrs. Elm, but “the only way to learn is to live.”
But aside from the philosophical meaning of life and what it needs to be for someone’s life to be “the one they want to live”, Nora Seed’s character is someone everyone can relate to, at least in some aspects of it. She’s a 30-something woman, single and friendless and childless, living with her books of philosophy and her piano and beloved cat, Voltaire, who happens to have just died, only minutes ago, on the same day she loses her job. She feels like a total failure, doesn’t talk to her brother anymore, no one cares about her—even her old neighbor no longer needs her to pick up his prescription—she hasn’t accomplished anything, when she could’ve been a rock-star, a glaciologist, or an Olympic champion if only she’d made different decisions. Yes, I realize this all seems like it’s a load to read, BUT in all her helplessness, she’s absolutely, utterly hilarious—the way British often can be.
At death’s door, she’ll get to live all these other lives that never happened, sending her on a witty and inspiring journey that will help her to decide what is most important to her.

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