Book Nook: Come Visit the Midnight Library

By, Lauren Raziano, Copy Editor & Web Editor

Matt Haig’s novel “The Midnight Library” begins with a quote from Sylvia Plath.

 “I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life.”

The main character Nora Seed is introduced at a time when she is unhappy with her life choices. Her cat died, she and her fiancé canceled their wedding and she lost her job. She attempts to end her life. 

When she blacks out, she wakes up in a mysterious place between life and death, a library with never-ending shelves of books, known as the Midnight Library. 

In this library is her childhood librarian, Mrs. Elm, who guides her through the process of choosing a new life. With an infinite amount of books that grant her a chance to live a new life story, Nora has the opportunity to explore any dream or choice she wishes she would have pursued in her life, as long as the clock is stuck at 00:00. 

Nora chooses to pursue the different lives she regrets not having chased. In her first life, she is transported into the life of a gold medal Olympic swimmer, a dream life her deceased dad desired for her. She learns that as a competitive swimmer, her dad is alive, but an affair broke up the marriage between him and her mother.

In another life, Nora discovers what it would’ve been like to marry her ex-fiance, Dan. She learns that as a couple they were able to achieve the opening of their dream bar called The Three Horseshoes. But during one long night at the bar, Nora figures out that Dan had become a spiteful drunk and is likely cheating on her, prompting her to return back to the library.

Nora learns that the alternate realities of her life were not as she once thought they would be like. She wakes up on an arctic boat with a gun near her head and a major headache, the lifestyle of an Antarctic glaciologist. In the next life, she moves to Australia with her best friend, then in another life, the band she was a part of is signed to a record label and becomes a star. 

But in these lives, one of the people that matters most to her has passed on, something she does not want to face. 

In one of her final lives she and her neighbor, Ash, go on a coffee date that Nora originally turned down.

In this life she has an epiphany, she must return to her “root life” and find the courage to love. 

“It is not the lives we regret not living that are the real problem. It is the regret itself. It’s the regret that makes us shrivel and wither and feel like our own and other people’s worst enemy,” Haig writes.

When the clock ticks past 00:00 Nora is ready to return to her original life with a new outlook. “It is quite a revelation to discover that the place you wanted to escape to is the exact same place you escaped from. That the prison wasn’t the place, but the perspective,” Haig writes.

Matt Haig’s novel “The Midnight Library” aims to make the reader analyze their own life choices and distinguish the insignificant versus consequential actions of our lives to truly determine how to get what we really want.