Issue 265 - The Midnight Library
March 2022
"Between life and death there is a library... And within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?"

-- Matt Haig, The Midnight Library
Imperfect Lives
Over the past weeks, Jan and I have both been reading – and enjoying – Matt Haig’s 2020 bestselling novel, The Midnight Library. For a book whose main character suffers from depression, the story is surprisingly light and uplifting.

Each of the early chapters begins with a time notation, for example: “Twenty-seven hours before she decided to die, Nora Seed sat on her dilapidated sofa scrolling through other people’s happy lives, waiting for something to happen. And then, out of nowhere, something actually did.”

Nora’s life is filled with boredom, sorrow and regret, eased only slightly by the pills she takes to combat depression. Her childhood dream of studying glaciers never materialized. Once, she had played in a rock band, but just when the doors to success appeared to be opening, Nora pulled out, badly disappointing her bandmates, including her brother. As a child, Nora was an excellent competitive swimmer, and her father dreamed of her becoming an Olympian. But that was her father’s dream, never hers. And her mother? Her mother had always “treated Nora like a mistake in need of correction.”

The one adult who always supported Nora when she was a child was Mrs. Elm, the school librarian. And when the 35-year-old Nora teeters between life and death, it is Mrs. Elm who greets her at the mystical, mysterious Midnight Library. There Nora has a chance to explore what might have happened – the other lives she might have lived – if she had made other choices along the way.

To say more would be to spoil the suspense, but the book, written in simple sentences and short chapters, keeps you turning the pages. It makes you think about small choices that dramatically shaped the rest of your life. And as Nora faces her regrets, you may find help in facing your own regrets as well. You may even learn, as Nora does, that, while no life is perfect, an imperfect life can still be a good life.

I wouldn't say it's a great novel. The book is occasionally predictable. At times the tone borders on being “preachy.” As more than one reviewer has noted, it sometimes seems like a reworking of the classic movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” But there is a reason that movie is a classic – it is encouraging, uplifting and enjoyable, just like Matt Haig’s thought-provoking novel, The Midnight Library.

-- Bill
What if . . . .
It was one of those days worth planning for. February 25 was the day for spine surgery to repair damage caused by Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis. I had already used up all my bravado masking searing back and leg pain. I actually was looking forward to being lazy during days and nights of recuperation, which is indeed, uncharacteristic for me.

Also uncharacteristically, I went looking for a good novel to read. Being a teacher all my life, I’ve always read for research and information. So, drawn naturally to books, I was intrigued by one on the NYT Best Seller List: Midnight Library. Success! It is the kind of book that caused dinner to be late several evenings, like at least until I finished the chapter on glaciology.

The principal character, Nora Seed, at one time in her life, wanted to be a glaciologist. In fact there were many roles she had wanted to play in her “root” life. Her librarian friend, Mrs. Elm, allowed Nora to pick out books in the Midnight Library that would take Nora to live lives she could have chosen.

The plot line is ingenuous and fascinating. As you read along, it becomes obvious that the author, Matt Haig, likes to play with words. All of this playfulness, melded with some trauma, allows the reader to safely think about one’s own life. What if I had chosen differently?

When I look back at my life, particularly at March 2022, I would not have wanted to choose differently. The Midnight Library is a good place to go with Nora and Mrs. Elm for a novel well read and a spine quickly healed.
On Sale for Easter!
In spoken word and music, follow Mary Magdalene to the empty tomb on Easter morning.

40-minute Audio CD
on sale here

"The Dawning" CD Cover
Matt Haig introduces his novel, The Midnight Library
We continue to pray for Ukraine and its people
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Bill Howden and Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries