Originally published: August 2020
Author: Matt Haig
Published by: Canongate Books
Page count: 304
Reading dates: 13-16 August 2020
‘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?’
Poor Nora Seed. As the book begins, we learn Nora, a young woman in her 30s has decided to die. Over the opening chapters we find out she is depressed and she thinks her life is worthless. She feels she has failed, has let people down and is needed by no-one. She takes an overdose and on the stroke of midnight, she finds herself in the Midnight Library.
Filled with books, the Midnight Library gives Nora the chance to try out some other lives, the ones she could of had if she had made different choices. With the help of her old school librarian, Mrs Elms, she starts to undo every one of her regrets by living lots of lives, returning to the library every time she realises why each one hasn’t made her happy.
Nora is actually an extraordinary woman! As a teenager she was an Olympic standard swimmer. She is a talented song writer, singer and musician. But she has suffered from depression throughout her life and has never been able to follow her dreams (or even truely know what they are).
“Librarians have knowledge. They guide you to the right books. The right words. They find the best places. Like soul-enhanced search engines.”
Well I’m sure there are no surprises here, but we all knew I was going to love a book set in a magical library didn’t we? 😍 As a librarian myself, I’m a huge fan of libraries and library based stories. I love the idea of the Midnight Library and as I was reading was thinking about the regrets I have in my life. I’m not sure any of my alternate lives would of being as exciting as Nora’s but I guess we’ll never know!
Matt Haig is well know for his honesty about his own experiences with depression and suicidal thoughts and he has done an amazing job here of writing an emotional yet ultimately uplifting book based around mental health. Read at a time in my life where I’m looking back and pondering the decisions I’ve made, the overwhelming message of this book, made me realise I couldn’t be anywhere better.
Thank you so much to Lucy at Canongate Books for inviting me on the tour (see below for the other stops) and providing me with a Netgalley copy. The hardback copy featured in the photo was bought from Waterstones on publication day.
About the author:
Matt Haig is an author for children and adults. His memoir Reasons to Stay Alive was a number one bestseller, staying in the British top ten for 46 weeks. His children’s book A Boy Called Christmas was a runaway hit and is translated in over 40 languages. It is being made into a film by Studio Canal and The Guardian called it an ‘instant classic’. His novels for adults include the award-winning How To Stop Time, The Radleys and The Humans.
He won the TV Book Club ‘book of the series’, and has been shortlisted for a Specsavers National Book Award. The Humans was chosen as a World Book Night title. His children’s novels have won the Smarties Gold Medal, the Blue Peter Book of the Year, been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and nominated for the Carnegie Medal three times.