Scottish Families Book Group Review – ‘The Midnight Library’ by Matt Haig

By Lena McMillan, Family Support Development Officer

May’s book choice for our group was ‘The Midnight Library’ by Matt Haig. 

‘The Midnight Library’ centres around the main character Nora, who – disenchanted with her life – decides to die, struggling to see any reason to keep on living. 

But in-between life and death, she finds herself in a library, full of books holding information about what her life might have looked like, had she made different choices along the way. Here, she is given the opportunity to explore these alternative lives as well as undo any of her regrets.  

Our group gave ‘The Midnight Library’ a rating of 6.7 out of ten. Some readers found it a struggle to get through, with a few of the group still to finish reading it and some unsure of whether they would read it all. Conversely, one reader gave it a full marks rating of 10/10, describing it as ‘outstanding’ and being impressed by how well a male author wrote from a female perspective. 

We discussed why Nora might have been feeling suicidal, with some readers feeling there was not enough background information about this and others believing she was clinically depressed.  

Much of our conversation concentrated on what it would be like to be offered to look at our own alternative lives – some readers felt curious and would want to explore this while others felt they wouldn’t want to visit these ‘other’ existences.  

We also spoke about the adage ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ and recognised that this is not always the case, something we all agreed ‘The Midnight Library’ portrays well. Members of the group likened the book to the film, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and the poem, ‘The Road Not Taken.’   

Our conversation closed with us discussing what makes life fulfilling – connection, love, us and loved ones being happy, dogs, cats and learning how to play chess. 

Some comments from our readers: 

‘I quite enjoyed it; it was better than I thought it would be.’

‘I struggled to read it.’

‘I read it at the wrong time, with everything else going on just now’

‘I quite enjoyed it and enjoyed going back to it each time’

‘…one of the most exciting books that came up (on the reading list) I’m really looking forward to reading it.’

‘One of the most annoying aspects of it was being beamed into different lives and not knowing the backgrounds.’

‘There’s kindness sprinkled throughout the book – the effects we can have on others.’

To find out more about our Book Group, follow our Twitter or Facebook feed, or you can email Lena for some more information!

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