The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams,” Thoreau had said. “Live the life you’ve imagine.”

As an author, Matt Haig’s books hit close to home. His characters portray a depth close to reality, embodying both failure and negativity, which is not entirely unknown to most of us. He reminds the readers that life is a combination of reasons – reasons to regret and yet reasons to celebrate. Focusing on any one of these aspects can easily derail the balance and cause anguish.

As Guardian review rightly said – The midnight library is a celebration of life’s possibilities. Though light in tone and easy to read, it packs an impactful punch. It could lead you towards that metaphorical light that had been evading you these past few months.

“she wished there was nothing but doors ahead of her, which she could walk through one by one, leaving everything behind”

Dejection. Desolation. Depression.

Most of us are familiar with these feelings, either as an integral part of living or a small part of our self hidden deep in a corner of our psyche. The question is – are we able to identify them as such and overcome them.

Nora Seed, 35 year old talented swimmer – who gave up swimming to hide from attention instead of going on to be the Olympic winner, outstanding musician – gave up the dream team instead of going on to be the rock star, philosophy graduate – instead of being the glaciologist that could have led for her to contribute in saving the world in a meaningful way, is going through the roughest day of her life

Nora’s cat dies, she loses a job that she has held on to though its way below her skill set, lost touch with her best (and only) friend and is on a “ignore” list of her brother.

Hitting rock bottom puts her in touch with a midnight library existing somewhere between life and death, which gives her a chance to explore all those lives she could have had, if and only if, she had taken a different decision at some critical points in her life.

This book explores the many lives Nora could have lived, if she had decided to pick a dream, either hers or that of an important person in her life and lived it. These possible, un-lived lives of Nora, also provide an insight into the balance universe creates around the decisions we make and the chances we decide to take. If she had decided to move to Australia with her best friend, it could also mean a life grieving the death of that very friend, lost to a car accident soon after.

Nora decides to pick her own “root life” in the end, the very one she had been meaning to end. Though poignant in some ways, the books ending is a cliche. Nora survives her suicide attempt, stronger with her will to live and to make changes leading to happiness. Being a fiction, as the book is, suddenly in the next one day everything starts turning in her favour.

In real life, going from a despondency to optimism may take longer than the book, but it does happen. It happens when we start finding the reasons to be happy. It happens when we decide to accept life as it comes and yet live to the fullest in spite of it.

“there was no way of living that can immunise you against sadness. And that sadness is intrinsically part of the fabric of happiness. You can’t have one without the other. Of course, they come in different degrees and quantities. But there is no life where you cab be in a state of sheer happiness for ever. And imagining there is just breeds more unhappiness in the life you’re in.”

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