In this post, you’ll find a The Midnight Library book review, plus all of the fiction and non-fiction books I read in March 2021.
I have always loved stories about possibility. My mind delights in bending around “what-if” scenarios, like in the film Sliding Doors. I’m also fascinated by the notion of altering destinies, like in The Time Traveler’s Wife, It’s a Wonderful Life, and my favorite, Back to the Future.
So when I learned that The Midnight Library was a book that explored multiple lifelines, I was hooked before I even opened it.
The Midnight Library Book Review
Once inside its pages, I was introduced to Nora Seed, a thirty-something who has hit rock bottom and decides to take her life.
If you or someone you know is struggling, please know that you are loved and that you’re never alone. National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255
Somewhere between life and death, Nora finds herself in “The Midnight Library,” where she’s presented with infinite volumes containing stories of her life. They include roads not taken, regrets, and every what-if thought that has ever passed through her consciousness.
Before her “root life” concludes, she’s given the opportunity to experience all of those “what-if” scenarios. With each visit, she’s able to see the effects of her decisions, rippling to alter the lives of her loved ones.
In the end, she’s given a choice: stay in one of these alternate timelines, or return—either to the life she found to be so hopeless or to the finality of death.
The gift of infinite possibility
The premise sounds a bit heavy, but author Matt Haig does a fantastic job balancing the subject matter with lightheartedness and, ultimately, hope.
As humans, we are faced with millions of potentially life-altering decisions every day. But for creatives, the possibilities can feel even more endless. We have the gift and the curse of seeing more, noticing more, and feeling more.
And with that comes the task of managing it all. Where do we put our energy? How can we be sure that we are making the right choices? How do we choose?
To me, The Midnight Library was a gentle reminder that we don’t need to carry the burden of second-guessing ourselves. Our possibilities are infinite, but so are the opportunities to make life better. Even in our darkest moments, we can depend on our intuition to lead us in the right direction. Keep walking.
What are your favorite stories that explore the idea of choices, destiny, and possibility? Come and say hi on Instagram to let me know.
Here’s the list of everything else I read in March 2021 (listed in the order I read them):
Deep Work, by Cal Newport (Non-Fiction)
A book that argues the side of less is more, that deep is better than shallow, and that our noisy, chaotic world is not conducive to producing meaningful work. It was music to my ears.
Written from an academic perspective, author Cal Newport shares his findings and observations about work habits. I identified with his definition of a “knowledge worker” and was inspired by many of the tips he shared on how to act like one.
If you are someone who wants to put more meaning into their work, this book will feel like a permission slip to operate in a way that feels more intuitive. I really connected with this author and his outlook and look forward to reading more of his works.
The Paris Library, by Janet Skeslien Charles (Fiction)
Historical fiction stories about WWII are a dime a dozen, but this one was something special. Told from two timelines (the 1940s and 1980s), we follow the story of Odile, a librarian who worked at The American Library in Paris.
I loved the protagonist and enjoyed learning more about the true story of the brave librarians who saved books and buoyed spirits during Paris’ darkest days.
For me, the journey was more intriguing than the destination, and I didn’t feel like the dual timelines really added to the overall story. I would have loved to read a version that stayed only in the 1940s timeline— but maybe that’s my old soul speaking.
Worth a read if you enjoy historical fiction, WW II tales, and of course, stories about books!
The Lies that Bind, by Emily Giffin (Fiction)
I’ve read every one of Emily Giffin’s books and had been especially anticipating this one after learning that it took place around the events of 9/11 (the book I’m writing takes place at the same time).
In her latest, Giffin tells the story of a young woman living in NYC who begins a relationship with a guy right before he goes missing after the 9/11 attacks.
Like everything else Giffin has written, The Lies that Bind had me captivated from the first sentence, and the story kept my head in the book until I finished it.
While I love Giffin’s writing, I don’t always love the stories. But this one was a home run. Her first novel, Something Borrowed, has always been a favorite of mine. The Lies that Bind might just be the runner up.
Great, great read. Would absolutely recommend it.
The Glass Ocean, by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White (Fiction)
I picked this book up as a fan of Beatriz Williams, never having read anything written by co-authors Lauren Willig or Karen White, but loving the idea of their collaboration.
The Glass Ocean is a fictional story centered around the RMS Lusitania’s real-life events, told from three perspectives: two women in 1915, one in the present day.
Pros: It had a little bit of everything: mystery, love, history, and even some humor.
Cons: I wasn’t able to get on board (pardon the pun) with one of the main characters. Another’s story felt disjointed. But they did manage to wrap everything up in a pretty bow, which I appreciated, even if it didn’t feel earned.
After reading, I think I’m partial to Williams’s solo writing style, but it won’t stop me from picking up another novel crafted by “Team W.”
Professional Troublemaker, by Luvvie Ajayi Jones (Non-Fiction)
What a breath of fresh air to read a personal development book written from a different perspective. Professional Troublemaker was my first introduction to author Luvvie Ajayi Jones, and I was instantly hooked by her wit, humor, and ability to tell it like it is.
As someone who tends to play it safe, Ajayi Jones’ message was the one I need to hear again and again. Through personal experiences and inspiration from her legendary grandma, her story left me feeling empowered to amplify my voice, even if it doesn’t appeal to everyone.
I was especially challenged (in a good way) by the chapters on speaking the truth and drawing your lines. If this is an area where you want to grow, this book will give you the encouragement and confidence you need to make a difference.
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