The Midnight Library - book cover
  • Publisher : Viking; 1st Edition
  • Published : 29 Sep 2020
  • Pages : 304
  • ISBN-10 : 0525559477
  • ISBN-13 : 9780525559474
  • Language : English

The Midnight Library

The New York Times bestselling WORLDWIDE phenomenon

Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction | A Good Morning America Book Club Pick | Independent (London) Ten Best Books of the Year

"A feel-good book guaranteed to lift your spirits."—The Washington Post

The dazzling reader-favorite about the choices that go into a life well lived, from the acclaimed author of How To Stop Time and The Comfort Book.

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig's enchanting blockbuster novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

Editorial Reviews

An instant New York Times bestseller
Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction

One of the LibraryReads 2020 Voter Favorites
Independent (London) One of Ten Best Books of the Year

Included in best-of-year and year-end roundups by The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, New York Public Library, Amazon, Boston Globe, PureWow, St. Louis Public Radio, She Reads, Lit Hub, The Mary Sue, and more

"Whimsical." -Washington Post, named one of the 15 Feel-Good Books Guaranteed to Lift Your Spirits

"An absorbing but comfortable read...a vision of limitless possibility, of new roads taken, of new lives lived, of a whole different world available to us somehow, somewhere, might be exactly what's wanted in these troubled and troubling times." -The New York Times

"Charming...a celebration of the ordinary: ordinary revelations, ordinary people, and the infinity of worlds seeded in ordinary choices." -The Guardian

"A brilliant premise and great fun." -Daily Mail

"I can't describe how much his work means to me. So necessary...[Matt Haig is] the king of empathy." -Jameela Jamil, actor and host of I Weigh with Jameela Jamil

"A beautiful fable, an It's a Wonderful Life for the modern age – impossibly timely when we are all stuck in a world we wish could be different." -Jodi Picoult, author of My Sister's Keeper

"This brainy, captivating pleasure read feels like what you might get if TV's The Good Place collided with Where'd You Go, Bernadette." -People

Thanks to the storytelling chops of writer Matt Haig, The Midnight Library is an engaging read, full of gentle insights and soothing wisdom… This is a book about shedding regret by gaining perspective. It's full of quirky plot lines, with glimpses of opportunities and potential in unexpected places and people." -Psychology Today

A charming book." -Dolly Parton, award-winning singer-songwriter

"Although I don't read fiction as much as I used to-because I'm always writing fiction-during these sad and difficult days in 2020 I broke that rule because I needed to ­escape into other people's fictional worlds. One of my favorite books of the year was "The Midnight Library" by Matt Haig, a powerful and uplifting story about regrets and the choices we make."-Alice Hoffman, author of Magic Lessons and Practical Magic

"Clever, emotional and thought-inspiring." -Jenny Colgan, author of The Bookshop on the Corner

"Amazing and utterly beautiful, The Midnight Library is eve...

Readers Top Reviews

I f****** love this book. Matt haig is the most reassuring and comforting author i have ever read. Once I nearly died and after I realised my issue was not with life but with being alive and not living, this book captures so much of that. I read it all today and ironically it is nearly midnight.
I don't think I can do this book/review enough justice but I'm going to give it my best shot... If there is one book I would urge you and shout at you to buy it would be this on. Go do it. Treat yourself You will not regret it. I promise. This is going straight into my top twenty of the year reads. I've awarded it five stars and I'd award more if I could! How do I start? I must admit it's not what I expected at all. But I feel it was just what I needed right now honestly. This book is going to be huge. This book for me was amazing, outstanding, life changing, powerful and thought provoking. Honestly have you ever felt so low you wanted to die? Then this book is for you. It will change your whole perspective on life. It has for me. It's taught me A LOT of life lessons and how I see my life. I actually have fallen in love with this book and I don't say that lightly. I don't want to ruin this for anyone but if you could view every possible outcome of your life would you? Would you ever be happy? Just wow. It's taught me to open my eyes, appreciate what I have not what I want. Life is life. Life is beautiful. I loved it all. I devoured it in a day. Beautifully told. An easy read for me done in a day but one I felt I NEEDED to read right at this moment in my life. Now this is my review others may feel differently about this book and some may hate it. But I cant explain how much I loved, enjoyed and needed this book. One I can always go back too when I'm feeling low. Uplifting. So thank you Matt. Absolutely brilliant. Grateful. It's really made me think and I miss it already. Perfection.
Suicide is a difficult subject to tackle, but Matt Haig does it brilliantly and sensitively in this book. His language is simple but efficient. The text seeps beneath the skin, and tugs at every emotion. I cried lots.
Schizanthus Nerd
‘Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?’ This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. It had me at ‘library that contains an infinite number of books’. Then there’s my mild obsession with all things multiverse and my knowing that there isn’t a version of me that doesn’t end up reading this book. I was so hyped up about this book that I preordered three different versions of it. (Sorry, bank account …) What I didn’t expect was to come to the realisation that I didn’t actually like Nora. It took almost no time at all for me to begin resenting her for squandering her potential. She was intelligent and gifted in various disciplines but she bailed on multiple opportunities that most people could only dream of having. Even though I also acknowledged and empathised with the pain she’d experienced, it still took a long time for me to stop being distracted by the privilege she took for granted. ‘Never underestimate the big importance of small things.’ I loved the idea of being able to test drive different versions of the life that could have been, although it did raise some questions for me. Some were addressed in this book but others are still ticking over in my mind. Nora inhabits the bodies of a number of different versions of herself, all living lives that could potentially have been hers. When she returns to the library the other Noras resume their lives. Nora’s actions in a borrowed life could easily result in consequences that would derail an aspect of the life of the Nora that lives there, and I wondered if I would chance that if I was in her place. I’d hate to think that me acting in an unintentionally careless way could have real world consequences for another version of me. If someone who has their own version of the Midnight Library chooses to stay in one of the lives they visit, what happens to the version of themselves who lived there first? Do they die? Swap existences with the interloper? Or is their existence undone entirely? Also, if you remain in another version of your life, could you ever truly feel like you belong or would you constantly feel like you need to fake knowing people that weren’t a part of your original life? I did eventually get over my initial resentment/envy of Nora’s many opportunities and settled into exploring each new possible life with her. There were some lives I wanted to visit longer and others I wanted to escape from almost immediately. It seemed obvious from early on where Nora’s story was leading. One thing that I hadn’t given much thought to in the context of this story prior to reading it was the impact that Nora’s choices in life, big and small, would have on the other people in her life. In this respect it reminded me of ‘The Butterfly Effect’, although Nora’s story is nowhere near as dark as Evan...
I really loved this book! Highly recommended for anyone who might need to learn to appreciate the importance of little things in life and how they are just as important as the big ones - and how we impact the people around us in little ways that make a difference . About learning to love who you are instead of being upset that you are not who others wanted you to be I try to teach my students that only "they" know the best how to be "them" - this elaborates on that. I love Matt Haig as a writer anyway

Short Excerpt Teaser

A Conversation About Rain


Nineteen years before she decided to die, Nora Seed sat in the warmth of the small library at Hazeldene School in the town of Bedford. She sat at a low table staring at a chess board.


'Nora dear, it's natural to worry about your future,' said the librarian, Mrs Elm, her eyes twinkling.


Mrs Elm made her first move. A knight hopping over the neat row of white pawns. 'Of course, you're going to be worried about the exams. But you could be anything you want to be, Nora. Think of all that possibility. It's exciting.'


'Yes. I suppose it is.'


'A whole life in front of you.'


'A whole life.'


'You could do anything, live anywhere. Somewhere a bit less cold and wet.'


Nora pushed a pawn forward two spaces.


It was hard not to compare Mrs Elm to her mother, who treated Nora like a mistake in need of correction. For instance, when she was a baby her mother had been so worried Nora's left ear stuck out more than her right that she'd used sticky tape to address the situation, then disguised it beneath a woollen bonnet.


'I hate the cold and wet,' added Mrs Elm, for emphasis.


Mrs Elm had short grey hair and a kind and mildly crinkled oval face sitting pale above her turtle-green polo neck. She was quite old. But she was also the person most on Nora's wavelength in the entire school, and even on days when it wasn't raining she would spend her afternoon break in the small library.


'Coldness and wetness don't always go together,' Nora told her. 'Antarctica is the driest continent on Earth. Technically, it's a desert.'


'Well, that sounds up your street.'


'I don't think it's far enough away.'


'Well, maybe you should be an astronaut. Travel the galaxy.'


Nora smiled. 'The rain is even worse on other planets.'


'Worse than Bedfordshire?'


'On Venus it is pure acid.'


Mrs Elm pulled a paper tissue from her sleeve and delicately blew her nose. 'See? With a brain like yours you can do anything.'


A blond boy Nora recognised from a couple of years below her ran past outside the rain-speckled window. Either chasing someone or being chased. Since her brother had left, she'd felt a bit unguarded out there. The library was a little shelter of civilisation.


'Dad thinks I've thrown everything away. Now I've stopped swimming.'


'Well, far be it from me to say, but there is more to this world than swimming really fast. There are many different possible lives ahead of you. Like I said last week, you could be a glaciologist. I've been researching and the-'


And it was then that the phone rang.


'One minute,' said Mrs Elm, softly. 'I'd better get that.'


A moment later, Nora watched Mrs Elm on the phone. 'Yes. She's here now.' The librarian's face fell in shock. She turned away from Nora, but her words were audible across the hushed room: 'Oh no. No. Oh my God. Of course . . .'



Nineteen Years Later

The Man at the Door


Twenty-seven hours before she decided to die, Nora Seed sat on her dilapidated sofa scrolling through other people's happy lives, waiting for something to happen. And then, out of nowhere, something actually did.


Someone, for whatever peculiar reason, rang her doorbell.


She wondered for a moment if she shouldn't get the door at all. She was, after all, already in her night clothes even though it was only nine p.m. She felt self-conscious about her over-sized ECO WORRIER T-shirt and her tartan pyjama bottoms.


She put on her slippers, to be slightly more civilised, and discovered that the person at the door was a man, and one she recognised.


He was tall and gangly and boyish, with a kind face, but his eyes were sharp and bright, like they could see through things.


It was good to see him, if a little surprising, especially as he was wearing sports gear and he looked hot and sweaty despite the cold, rainy weather. The juxtaposition between them made her feel even more slovenly than she had done five seconds earlier.


But she'd been feeling lonely. And though she'd studied enough existential philosophy to believe loneliness was a fundamental part of being a human in an essentially meaningless universe, it was good to see him.


'Ash,' she said, smiling. 'It's Ash, isn't it?'