I hope you’re safe and you’re well.
Today has been an amazing day, as I’ve finally seen my grandparents for the first time in over a year! We were able to hug and go out for lunch and it was honestly just such a lovely day and I’m so grateful to be able to see them again and spend real time with them. They live over 80 miles away from me and are elderly, so the distance has been a huge factor in me being able to see them over lockdowns. Grandad and I went for a post lunch sunshine stroll through the woodland near their house, where we chatted and saw the open egg shell of a bird, and a very auburn squirrel eating a nut!
Another thing I’ve been grateful for this week is for the next book that I am sharing with you – it had been on my TBR (to be read) for a long time so when I saw it priced for less than a fiver in paperback, I had to buy it!
THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY, BY MATT HAIG
Matt Haig wrote one of my favourite books, ‘How To Stop Time’, and whilst I enjoyed his ‘Notes on a nervous planet’ I wasnt balled over by it, so I wasnt sure to be honest what I would make of this read. I’ve heard so many mixed reviews, this seems to be a bit of a marmite read. But when I nearly cried at the end of the first chapter and began snapping as many photos as I could to save as quotes, I knew that I was reading a book that was special.
‘Nora’s life has beeb going from bad to worse. Then at the stroke of midnight of her last day on earth she finds herself transported to a library. There she is given the chance to under he regrets and try out each of the other lives she might have lived, which raises the ultimate question: With infinite choices, which is the best way to live?’
So first of all, I’d like to make it pretty clear what this book is, as to say its just a piece of fiction, I think is a lie. This book has an agenda. Now to some people that may be unwanted, not as expected or a little ‘preachy’, but to others this book will supply so much comfort and I think that if you go into this book understanding this and understanding the author, then you will find beauty in the pages. It is no secret of Matt Haig’s that his mental health has been a major focus point in his life; he has had some very dark moments and he has now turned that empathy and understanding into a healing power through his writing – previously with non fiction and now through fiction, to remove the stigma and to provide almost a bit of therapy to it’s readers. This book is not pretentious, rude or bundling people’s issues together as one, but I think it answers and helps to explore things that a lot of people find difficult. I call this book ‘therapy through fiction’.
I will add that I think this book needs a trigger warning for depression and suicidal thoughts. In no way is this book trying to resolve those heavy topics as such but they are the main themes here.
With the character of Nora, she feels as though her life has taken a turn for the worst. She’s single, lost her job, feels alone, isolated, hopeless and unwanted or needed in this world – which she blames herself for causing. She feels as though if she’d just taken this path or that path, perhaps things would not be so. She tries to die, but instead finds herself walking into The Midnight Library.
Within The Midnight Library, it’s almost like Nora is the real life character in a choose your own adventure book – for here she gets to start the life in which she thinks she would be most happy, simply by picking up a book. There are so many options and so many alternative universes in which she resides – an Olympic swimmer, a rock star, the wife of the guy she sacked off, a mother, etc.
This idea fascinated me – as I like many of you I’m sure – I have so many interests and different ideas of what I could do in life. It was so difficult to pick one career, and I’m not even sure that I’ll work in Supply Chains for the next 30 years, there’s so many different things im interested in – and I’m often thinking ‘what would my life be like if I’d travelled/ended that relationship sooner/gone to stage school/moved to London/taken that job/carried on studying psychology’ etc. It’s a rabbit hole once you start thinking, but this book explores it in a really fantastic way. The game of chess runs often throughout the book and this quote I felt was perfect to apply towards life.
‘At the beginning of the game, there are no variations. There is only one way to set up a board. There are nine million variations after the first six moves. And after eight moves there are two hundred and eighty-eight billion different positions. And those possibilities keep growing. There are more possible ways to play a game of chess than the amount of stars in the observable universe. So it gets very messy. And there is no right way to play; there are many ways.’The Midnight Library
The main theme of the book is regret. Nora is fortunate to be able to explore those regrets through these chances at a life where she didn’t make the choice she regrets, and it’s so interesting to see how this affects her.
What the book is getting at, is that in reality we all have those situations where we think ‘I wish I had/hadn’t done x y z’, but often, if we had not done those things we wouldn’t be where we are now. Hopefully thats somewhere happy and content. But if it’s not (and I really hope it is), then consider your positive impact on others, as there’s probably something really good that you are doing that is positively impacting someone else’s life, in a way you cannot currently see – and perhaps good things are coming for you too.
CAN’T PUT IT DOWN RATING: 5/5
I was absolutely blown away by the power of this book, I whizzed through it in less than a day. It is written with some real thought, emotion, consideration and some beautiful word craft. Afterwards I felt brighter, lighter and much more interested in taking life by the balls and making sure that I found joy in each day, which the restrictions have made feel a little same old same old at times.
It caused me to book a night with my friend where we put on our best dresses and favourite heels, did our hair and makeup and went out for a meal al fresco in the glorious sunshine and pretended we were on holiday. We both needed that night a shit ton, albeit for different reasons. Previously I was focusing on what I couldn’t do under restrictions and with other stuff going on – and finally remembered what we could do. We couldn’t be in Turkey right now, but we sure as hell could go to a Turkish grill house and pretend.
If you also need a reminder to find joy in your everyday or to shake off the ‘but what if’ questions, then I think this therapy through fiction will help you and that you will enjoy it. I hope you do. If however you’re not interested in this topic or self help books, then I dont think this will be one for you. But maybe give it a go anyway, who knows what you may get from it.
WASHED DOWN WITH:
So this week it’s been really humid/warm (‘muggy’) and I have been drinking Lipton Green and Mint Ice tea by the pint glass. I was so fortunate to find these tea bags (x15) for 20p (!) in a local pound stretcher, and I was so glad to have done so. It’s really refreshing and you can keep topping up the water – so long as you dont brew for more than 8 hours you’re all good. It looks like these aren’t currently available online, so if you have a local pound stretcher near you and fancy yourself some, go and see what you can find!
So, as we’re hopefully very near to moving (eek!) it’s time to start packing, which means many of my beautiful books shall be going into storage.. If anyone has any tips and suggestions for moving, please let me hear them! Also, let me know your thoughts if you’ve read this book or plan to!
Enjoy your weekend
Until the Next Chapter,