The Midnight Library
A New York Times bestseller | Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction | A Good Morning America Book Club Pick!
"Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?"
A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time.
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 new 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.
Praise For The Midnight Library: A Novel…
Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction
A GOOD MORNING AMERICA Book Club Pick!
One of the LibraryReads 2020 Voter Favorites
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
"[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
Viking, 9780525559474, 304pp.
Publication Date: September 29, 2020
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. The Midnight Library is different for each person who enters it. Nora experienced it as a library because of the meaningful relationship she had with Mrs. Elm, her childhood school librarian. Later, we learn that Hugo experienced it as a video store, with a cherished uncle instead of a librarian. What do you think your Midnight Library would be? And who would be there?
2. Nora experiences a number of alternate lives in which she achieves a great deal of success in one area of her life at the expense of all the rest—be it in music, swimming, or polar exploration. Do you think it’s possible to reach fame and fortune in a single field and still maintain balance with other areas of your life?
3. In the library, Nora learns that the life she gave her cat was one of the best he could have experienced. Are there any parts of your life that you feel could not be improved by living it differently?
4. In her life before she finds herself in the Midnight Library, Nora gave up many of the pursuits that brought her joy because she didn’t feel like she could be the best at them. Do you think it’s understandable that she would have given these things up? Do you think that wanting to be the best at something can inhibit us from enjoying it?
5. Mrs. Elm showed Nora The Book of Regrets when she first entered the library, and Nora was overwhelmed by it when she first looked in. But as she experienced more and more lives, her list of regrets began to shrink. Do you think by considering the ways in which our lives might have turned out differently our regrets truly go away, or do we simply learn to live with them?
6. In the world of the Midnight Library, the books take on the role of portals into alternate realities. Do you think the role books played in the Midnight Library is similar to the role they play in your own life?
7. As the story progresses, Nora finds herself in lives that she could be more satisfied with than others that proved more difficult. Do you think you would be able to live as an alternate version of yourself? Would you want to?
8. Over the course of the book, Nora lives a whole spectrum of lives, some for minutes and some for months, but only at the end does time actually pass, and by the time she wakes up in her root life it is one minute and twenty seven seconds past midnight and her outlook on life has changed entirely. What do you think this says about the speed at which we decide things about our lives and ourselves? Does it take a lifetime or a just few seconds?