The Midnight Library by Matt Haig continues my philosophical reading flow as Nora is caught between life and death following a suicide attempt. She finds herself in a massive library where she is assisted by her former school librarian. After reviewing her massive book of regrets, she has the chance to undo a regret by selecting another life choice. Each book represents an opportunity to experience other paths her life may have taken, and there are infinite possibilities. She arrives in each new life at midnight and may stay in that life for minutes or days. The moment she feels unsatisfied she is transported back to the library where she can choose another book/life to experience.
Nora encounters interesting situations and people along the way, in one case another “slider” such as herself. She joins her life in numerous scenarios that address her long list of regrets or what ifs, including: if she moved to Australia with her friend instead of staying in her hometown, married her fiancée instead of backing out two days before the wedding, pursued swimming and became an Olympic medalist, became a glaciologist or a famous musician instead of studying philosophy (there are many pertinent philosophical quotes scattered throughout the story). Some experiences are better than others, but even the best one doesn’t seem quite right. Time is critical because in reality she is close to death. This leads to Nora’s final takeaway; she wants to live her own life.
I love the premise of this story. The concept of how a different choice might alter our lives is one I imagine most of us ponder from time to time. There is a strong theme of appreciating life and making one’s own happiness which is so true, but may strike some as obvious or preachy. Luckily, Nora learns this lesson before it’s too late.