The Midnight Library
by Matt Haig
This novel was selected by my work book club, and it was a classic example of my having loved a book until I started to talk about it with other people, at which point I found many flaws. I love Matt Haig and his style is very readable, so I think I probably did notice some of this book’s problems while I read, but skimmed over them. And I would still recommend this book, just with a little commentary about my reservations.
The problems begin with the premise itself. Nora is having a terrible day and as midnight approaches, she attempts suicide. But instead of leading her to death or a hospital bed, she finds herself in a magical library where every book represents a version of her life. The librarian tells her that she can try on these variants of her life to see if any of them fits her better than the life she just tried to leave. If she isn’t happy there, she will return to the library.
The librarian explains that these lives are based on decisions that Nora made, so she can’t choose a life where someone else’s decision was different, only those where she opted for something else. To help guide her choices, Nora is given a book of regrets. She has many regrets, but if she can undo all those decisions will it make her life a happier one?