Book Review : The Midnight Library by Matt Haig @matthaig1 @canongatebooks

Title : The Midnight Library

Author : Matt Haig

Genre : Fantasy ; Philosophy

Pages : 288

A trigger warning for those who have suicidal thoughts.


Between life and death, there is a library. When Nora seed finds herself in the midnight library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change. The books in the midnight library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger. Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: What is the best way to live?


“The Midnight Library” is a fantasy fiction written by Matt Haig which is a healing book for people who are going through depressive episodes in life. It talks about how to find light in the darkness and be hopeful. This book was ranked as one of the highest-rated books in 2020 and received positive reviews all over BookTube. It became a rage during the pandemic where people were feeling quite lost and depressed in general and that itself means this book has accomplished its purpose. I immediately wanted to get hold of the book after seeing it appear on BookTube a lot of times and like icing on the cake, this book was suggested by BTS.

“The only way to learn is to live.”

I read this book during the pandemic. That should say a lot about how my mental health was affected during the pandemic. The book is about this space between Life and Death where people are given a chance to live out all the versions of their lives that they wished to live or regretted not choosing.  It is actually quite a nice read and talks about how there is always a choice. Life is nothing but a summation of all the choices we make to ensure we live to see another day and live another day. If you are given a chance to live a million versions of yourself, which version would you choose?

The first two chapters of the book are the ones that absolutely gutted me. It shows the life of Nora Seed, a woman with multiple talents, but who never had the courage to pursue any specific one. She now lives in a small apartment, working a deadbeat job in a record store selling and recommending records, with only her cat as her companion. She has a brother who has distanced himself from her because she did not pursue being a member of their band and left it high and dry just before their big break. She sees herself as a huge disappointment to her parents and her brother.

The minute it all comes crashing down is when she gets fired from her job. Her cat dies in a car accident and it triggers a depressive spiral and she goes on to swallow pills and attempts suicide.

Anyone who has gone through a depressive episode would be able to relate so well to this part of the book. The level of detail made me wonder if the author had been through something similar. Upon further research, I found out that he has indeed. So as he himself has battled depression, he has decided to help people and his readers to overcome mental health issues through stories that centre around characters going through the same. What makes this book so charming is the fantasy element he has brought into it which gives people hope for magic in their life.

“A person was like a city. You couldn’t let a few less desirable parts put you off the whole. There may be bits you don’t like, a few dodgy side streets and suburbs, but the good stuff makes it worthwhile.”

The rest of the book picks up the mood and you are taken to The Midnight Library. This is a place where you get to see different versions of your life and you can choose the version you want to continue living in. The reason why this is a library is that Nora loves books and the library was her place of solace growing up. Each book in the library is a version of her life if she had made different choices. There are infinite parallel universes where you are living different lives as life is so complex and any choice could have resulted in an entirely different version of the same life. I think everybody has wondered at some point in their life if they had made different choices how their life would have panned out. So I guess the theme of that question is explored really well in the book.

“When you stay too long in a place, you forget just how big an expanse the world is. You get no sense of the length of those longitudes and latitudes. Just as, she supposed, it is hard to have a sense of the vastness inside any one person. But once you sense that vastness, once something reveals it, hope emerges, whether you want it to or not, and it clings to you as stubbornly as lichen clings to rock.”

She goes on stepping into those lives and living different versions where she is an Olympic swimmer, a rock star, a researcher in Antarctica, and even one where she marries her Ex. I think by the end of it I started wishing for a Midnight Library to help me figure out my own life. What I feel needs to be highlighted is that every single person has the ability to become a rockstar or scientist or any other life they want to lead but it is the choices that we make that help us get there. So at any point in life, we need to understand that life doesn’t end with a single problem, we need to continue making choices and living out every single day so that we can see what lies ahead of us.

I suppose the author has purposely kept the book very simple to read so that anyone can understand where he is going with an idea. Here and there it feels too over-simplified, I feel like certain aspects should be left for interpretation by readers.

On the whole, it was a good read. I feel that more than a novel it was a self-help book although it was not too preachy. I would rate it 3 stars for a normal sunny day. But for those days when it’s rainy and cloudy and life doesn’t seem too appealing, it would be 4 stars. So let’s settle for a 3.5 rating here.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

This is a book meant for people who have lost hope or do not understand the point of life as such. If you are looking for a sign of hope during dark and depressing times you should pick this book. When you are depressed, you feel like it’s quite hard to talk to people about it. Half the time you think you’re too whiny and that you’re being a sort of a downer. So, books like these become that friend who you could hold on to and when you complete it, it feels like this giant hug from a friend.

The best version of your life is the life you live today.

I will leave you with one of my favourite quotes that stole the stage.  

“The paradox of volcanoes was that they were symbols of destruction but also life. Once the lava slows and cools, it solidifies and then breaks down over time to become soil-rich, fertile soil.

She wasn’t a black hole, she decided. She was a volcano. And like a volcano she couldn’t run away from herself. She’d have to stay there and tend to that wasteland.

She could plant a forest inside herself.”

Here is the link to buy the book!

I hope you liked the review, read this book and share your comments below.

Until we meet again my Bookish people!

~ Suchitra


  • Suchitra Shekhar

    Suchitra is a Publishing Manager who loves spending quality time with her favourite fictional characters. Always lost in a reverie. Or in a book. Aren't they the same? She can be found knee-deep in mud on the weekends tending to her little garden. Suchitra is a people's person who loves making new friends. [email protected] Shekhar Suchitra

2 thoughts on “Book Review : The Midnight Library by Matt Haig @matthaig1 @canongatebooks

  1. Excellent review of The Midnight Library by Suchitra! The pandemic, as she points out, has brought mental health issues out of the woodwork even among people who are generally upbeat and cheerful. Suchitra gives us a way out of this misery and recommends a fantasy fiction to us. She invites us to get lost in the world of books and to live life vicariously through many fictional characters found in a midnight library. Life is hard and there is no denying it. But, Suchitra artfully captures the underlying theme of the book and challenges us to take one day at a time. As she poignantly points out, “Life is nothing but a summation of all the choices we make to ensure we live to see another day and live another day.” Well done, Suchitra, you have convinced me. I will definitely read this book.

    1. Thank You so much! So sweet of you! I hope you continue to read my posts and follow Nerdy Bookarazzi for more interesting book reviews!

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