May Book Club: The Midnight Library
Welcome to our May choice for the Well Read Company Book Club!
I’ve already read several of Matt Haig’s books, and anyone who is familiar with him will be aware of his insightful, moving work on mental health and his practical and inspiring advice for dealing with it. Put simply, ‘The Midnight Library’ is a reflection on all the different lives we could live, if only we made different choices. It follows Nora, a depressed, lonely woman who feels that life is no longer worth living - and so decides to kill herself.
Instead of death, she is greeted by a library, where every single book on the shelves represents a different life she could have led. Rock star, Olympic gold medallist, mother, wife, orphan - each one is entirely different, and all equally possible depending on which route she took in life. I hadn’t really delved into speculative fiction before, but I feel this novel is a perfect first introduction to it - it never feels silly or too confusing. Haig focuses closely on the psychological effects of this exploration, and the result is uplifting rather than panic-inducing.
Haig states he wrote the book as a ‘form of self-therapy’, explaining that ‘doubt used to be a big thing with me — wishing that I'd done things differently’ (O.Canada.com). The novel explores the idea that our lives can always be changed if they are not how we wished them to be, and that we can’t judge ourselves for one single wrong decision. There is a sense of freedom in knowing that some things we have the power to change, but some are out of control and must be accepted. It is a balm to anxiety and depression, interwoven with the gentle and thought-provoking narrative.
Though the lofty premise of the novel may put readers off, it is rooted in ordinary life: the power of ordinary decisions on ordinary people’s lives. There is something for everyone to relate to, something we can all look back upon with nostalgia and wonder: what if? As a result, it's a universal novel, and easily recommended to people of all ages and walks of life.
Inspiring, thought-provoking and different to anything else I have read of late, this novel is definitely worth a read!
We loved reading this novel this month and are so excited to discuss it with you - please tell us what you thought via social media or by commenting on this post!