The Life you didn't choose! Book Review of "The Midnight Library" by Matt Haig


Hi! I’m Jinta from Japan.

This time, I have read the best-selling novel “The Midnight Library,” which has been published in 43 countries around the world  and I would like to write about my impressions of it. 


Nora, the main character, has lost the meaning of life, and what awaits her is the mysterious Midnight Library. Yes, this novel takes place in a library. But this is no ordinary library. It is a world between reality and death. Life, libraries, and mysterious books. What kind of connection do these things have in this story? What will Nora, who wished to take her own life, think in the Midnight Library?


What if we had made different choice then?


Do you ever think about that in your life?

Is it regret?

Or is it relief?


The life you didn’t choose!


Such life choices are the theme of this story. Let’s get started!

(I will give a synopsis of the book and my thoughts on it below, but I will try to avoid spoilers as much as possible.)

The Life you didn't choose! Book Review of "The Midnight Library" by Matt Haig



“The Midnight Library” Out line

The main character, Nora Seed, is now 35 years old. Since she was a small child, she had many talents in sports, music, and academics. However, Nora is now severely pessimistic about her life. And Nora does not find any meaning in her life and has started to contemplate suicide.

One day, while she was thinking about life at home, she received bad news about her beloved cat, Voltaire. Her neighbor, Ash, came to Nora’s house and told her that Voltaire had been run over by a car outside her house and was dead. Nora feels even more emotional pressure from this situation.


At midnight, she takes her pills and leaves a suicide note describing her painful situation.

Nora wakes up. Nora wakes up in a strange world. It is in a library lined with unlabeled books. Nora enters the library and meets Mrs. Elm, the librarian. Mrs. Elm tells Nora that she is in the Midnight Library. She also tells Nora that the library is between the world of consciousness and the world of death.

There are many books in the Midnight Library. Among them, there is one book that stands out from the rest. Mrs. Elm called it “The Book of Regrets”. This “Book of Regrets” describes a life different from reality if Nora had made different choices while she was alive. A life of many variations. When Nora reads the book, she can experience each one of them in reality.

If only she had made that choice then… Through the Book of Regrets, Nora experiences all the lives she could have wished for. However, she realizes that most of them are far from what she expected.

What will she feel through this strange experience? Can she find hope? I feel that this book can be a lesson to those who expect more from life.

“The Midnight Library” Book Review

Every day of our lives we choose to do something. From small things to big things. The accumulation of each of these choices has brought me to where I am today. The past cannot be changed, and the “what if” argument is completely meaningless.

It seems that there is no point in talking about “what ifs” about the past, but in Midnight Library, the world of “what if I had made that choice” and “what if I had been kinder to others” answers unfold before Nora’s eyes through an untitled book. Early on when I started reading this Midnight Library, I wondered what would happen if I learned about this “what if” life of Nora’s? 

But as I learned more about Nora’s strange experiences, I, the reader, began to see myself in her experiences, which was a very strange feeling. Knowing that there is no “what if” world, I began to search for the past, wondering if our lives are formed from small and large chances and opportunities. Have you ever had an experience that you think was a crossroads in your life?

For example, my childhood dream was to become a school teacher. The desire I had since junior high school did not fade away even after I reached high school, and I was convinced that it was a dream that was well within my grasp if I worked hard enough. I was good at science in high school, so I chose the so-called science course.

However, in the latter half of my second year of high school, when it came time for me to decide on a career path, I pushed my dream of becoming a teacher to the back of my mind. I had no friends around me who wanted to become teachers. I couldn’t say “I want to be a teacher” in front of my classmates, who were all pursuing their own spectacular goals: medicine, science, engineering, aerospace, etc. I was completely influenced by my surroundings. I felt that a goal different from others would be out of place.

However, at the time, if I had stuck to my beliefs, if I had consulted my parents or teachers even once, if I had even one friend who had the same dream, I wonder what my present situation would be like. In what condition and circumstances would I exist in this world today?



No matter what my circumstances were, there is no way to measure the degree of my happiness.


I patiently and repeatedly recall each crossroads in my past and try to unravel and analyze them. Going to school, getting a job, having children. Encounters and partings. As I dig deeper and deeper into the past, I realize something like…


After all, I am living in the present.

I can’t find any other facts than this.


And one more thing I realize…


I didn’t make all bad choices.

I am learning how to make the right choices.


This book, “The Midnight Library,” was a good opportunity for me to come back to that. What will you all take away from it? And what is the reason why this book became a bestseller?



In this issue, we have written about our impressions of the best-selling novel “The Midnight Library,” which has been published in 43 countries around the world, and which we read in its original text.

A Japanese translation is also available for your enjoyment.

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