Hey friends, hope we’re all keeping well.
Man, it’s been ages since I’ve done a book review. And it’s not even that I’ve been too lazy to make one (although that is 99% the reason), but rather I haven’t read any good books where afterwards I say to myself “I need to review this book right now”.
Plus adding in the fact that I haven’t been reading as much recently, it’s not a big surprise I’ve been lagging behind with book reviews.
That said, I’m eager to continue making them as I definitely want to leave my thoughts on all the books I’ve read, as well as remember them better (which writing book reviews should help with).
So, here’s my review of Matt Haig’s ‘The Midnight Library’, the most recent book I’ve finished.
I first heard about this book on Jack Edwards’ Youtube channel, who if you don’t know is a brilliant YouTuber who talks about books. He does really interesting reading-related challenges, such as only reading books that were written by YouTubers for 24 hours, or reading books recommended by TikTokers for 24 hours.
Anyway, I first heard about the Midnight Library from his TikTok book recommendation challenge, and I have to say the premise interested me greatly. So, when I also paid a visit to my bookstore and saw it was on the Bestseller’s shelf, I decided to give it a shot.
The story follows a middle-aged , suicidal woman named Nora Seed, who discovers a mysterious place called the Midnight Library. Here, it is possible to experience all the lives she could’ve lived if she had made different decisions and commitments in her life.
From being an Olympic swimmer to a glaciologist, to a successful rock band singer to a vineyard owner, Nora tries out as many lives as possible to pursue one grand truth she desperately wants to know: Is there a life out there where she is truly happy?
Firstly, let me repeat myself and say that I think the premise is brilliant. It’s something everyone can relate to and understand, which is vital for any book to generate interest. I mean, who wouldn’t want to try out different lives if they could? Even if you were happy with your current life, you have to admit you’d be curious to see what other lives you could’ve lived, if you had made different decisions throughout your life.
Now, onto the story.
In general, I think the book was a good read. Honestly it wasn’t super mind-blowing or brilliant, but still just good.
I’ll truthfully admit that I got bored at certain parts, and even took a break from reading the book for more than a week. For example, I had no interest reading about when Nora was a vineyard owner, or how nice her new husband was (when I’ve never met this character before and have no attachment to them at all), but I think the book did the best it could given the premise. We’re put into Nora’s shoes and experiencing this completely new life with her along the way.
That said, I think the ending was fairly predictable. It didn’t really do anything wrong, it’s just that it was clear what direction it was heading in from the very start.
The character transformation was heart-warming and nice to see, but again predictable .
I think the main problem with the book was that the challenges weren’t super challenging, and it dragged on a good bit towards the ending. That said, its messages about living and life in general were really good, and made me re-think how I should view being alive, and how important and impactful every single one of my decisions can be . 💯
Some of my favourite quotes from the book:
- “The only way to learn is to live”
- “You don’t have to understand life. You just have to live it”
And the deepest and best one:
“It is easy to mourn the lives we aren’t living. Easy to wish we’d developed other talents, said yes to different offers. Easy to wish we’d worked harder, loved better, handled our finances more astutely, been more popular, stayed in the band, gone to Australia, said yes to the coffee or done more bloody yoga.
It takes no effort to miss the friends we didn’t make and the work we didn’t do the people we didn’t do and the people we didn’t marry and the children we didn’t have. It is not difficult to see yourself through the lens of other people, and to wish you were all the different kaleidoscopic versions of you they wanted you to be. It is easy to regret, and keep regretting, ad infinitum, until our time runs out.
But it is not 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.
We can’t tell if any of those other versions would have been better or worse. Those lives are happening, it is true, but you are happening as well, and that is the happening we have to focus on.”
Thanks for reading this far if you did, I really appreciate it.