The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

I first encountered Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library on the bookstagram community, but I did not consider reading it until my high school friend recommended it to me a few weeks ago. (I value personal recommendations highly. Although I discover book titles on bookstagram, I don’t think I’ve ever picked up a book because it was trending.) Well, after weeks of binge-watching The Big Bang Theory on Netflix and mostly reading short story or essay compilations, I wanted to read a full, decent story that I wouldn’t hate.

Things started on the wrong foot. As I read the first few chapters, I found myself not liking the main character, Nora Seed. I did not have much patience for her. However, Nora’s indecision and incapacitation sounded similar to Haig’s experience in Reasons to Stay Alive (which I read last year), so I thought this must be a very real experience for some people. With that in mind, I decided to read on. I had a feeling I would enjoy the story more once I got to the library part anyway, and I was not wrong. The Midnight Library served as an eye-opener not only for Nora but also for myself: I developed more empathy towards Nora as I read through the lives she could have led, and I was able to understand how she ended up in her root life present.

Similar to How to Stop Time (which I read in 2019), The Midnight Library was an easy yet captivating read (once I got past the set up). I finished the whole book in a day (I even had some breaks in between sittings), and I was genuinely interested to see how it would end. There were some predictable moments in the book, but I don’t think Haig meant to shock anyone with a major twist anyway. Overall, I thought the book was heartwarming. I loved the way it ended, as it focused on personal growth.

If you are looking for a feel-good read that touches on mental and emotional health, give this a try. Although the mental and emotional health issue was not as obvious here as it was in Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, which I loved, the anxiety that haunted Nora Seed felt relevant to the current pandemic life. At this point we’re all dealing with some sort of quarantine fatigue, and, yes, it is ok to take a breather to recharge.

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