*If you are new here, WELCOME! For The Midnight Library, I provide your book club with a brief summary, a food ideas, and discussion questions in that order!
In the vein of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine or Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library takes a quirky main character, Nora Seed, dealing with some hard issues and places her in a unique situation.
Unlike the first two novels mentioned, The Midnight Library sprinkles in a heavy dose of magical realism in the form of a library at the edge of the universe that contains an infinite amount of books, each with a different reality. This library specifically has an infinite number of realities of Nora Seed’s life.
Regret that you never went to college? There’s another reality where you did. Regret that you didn’t date that cute coworker? There’s another reality where you did and now have two kids with him. And so on…
Imagine being able to try on all the possibilities of your life if you’d just made a slightly different decision along the road and you have The Midnight Library.
If you’ve ever felt like your life would have been better if only you had done… I’ll let you fill in the blank. Then, The Midnight Library will definitely resonate with you.
I also loved the fact that Haig wrote super short chapters and a fairly concise book. At only 304 pages, I flew through this one, always interested to see what would happen to Nora next.
That said, the novel deals with heavier topics like (the already mentioned) regret, mental illness, and understanding our purpose in the world. So, while it’s a short read, it doesn’t lack for substance.
There is plenty to discuss in this quirky, but touching novel about a woman struggling with her “poor” choices. Already a smash hit with readers, I think your book club would enjoy reading it as a group.
I’ve provided book club questions and delicious food ideas for The Midnight Library, so if you are looking for book club ideas and more, keep reading!
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Here’s a brief summary of The Midnight Library:
Imagine a library at the edge of the universe that contains an infinite amount of books, each with a different reality. One book tells your story as it’s been lived, but the others tell different stories. They tell the stories of the way your life could have been lived if you’d made slightly different choices. Would those lives be better?
That is the question that Nora Seed conquers when she finds herself at The Midnight Library with the opportunity to live out her life in an infinite number of ways and erase the regret that’s been crushing her.
But what truly makes a life fulfilling and worth living? As Nora experiences the lives she could only dream of, the answer to that question comes from a place and a life that surprises her.
For The Midnight Library Food Ideas:
While Nora zipped in and out of realities in the novel, she did occasionally stop to eat a bite. And, because of the varied subjects in the book, there is an array of food options, which is always nice for book club!
Here are a few of the food ideas from the pages of The Midnight Library:
- The Three Horseshoes – Menu at the pub – candied beetroot and broad bean salad and corn cakes
- Peppermint Tea -Nora the swimmer only drinks peppermint tea
- One Night in Longyearbyen – Nora the scientist eats the only vegan option on the menu with reindeer steak and mooseburger
- A Silver Tray of Honey Cakes – Nora the rockstar eats Brazilian honey cakes
- A Gentle Life – Nora eats her packed lunch at the dog park – cheese and Marmite sandwich with salt and vinegar crisps
- Dinner with Dylan – Nora eats black bean tacos at La Cantina
- A Spiritual Quest for a Deeper Connection with the Universe – Dan cooks dinners of lentil dal and penne arrabbiata
- Hammersmith – Joe cooks Nora a dinner of (Puglian) garlicky pasta-and-broccoli served with Syrah
After reading the book, I thought so much of Nora’s story came down to her relationship with her brother. I really loved the scene where she goes to eat at his house and they eat the Puglian garlic pasta and broccoli together.
That would be a great dish to try as a book club and probably a pretty good crowd pleaser! Serve it with a bottle of Syrah and the conversation will flow!
Nora is a vegan in the book. If none of these options appeal to you, try your hand at a vegan meal of your choice. Your book club may enjoy trying something they wouldn’t normally try together!
Whether you choose something from this list or trying your own vegan option, I hope these food ideas will get your creative juices flowing to host your book club for The Midnight Library!
The Midnight Library Book Club Questions:
*WARNING: May contain spoilers!
- As Nora lives out her other lives, her book of regrets empties. Not only because she experiences what she never could, but also because she realizes how there is lack in each life. Why do you think we fall into the trap of believing the grass is always greener? Why did Nora in the beginning?
- Why do you think Mrs Elm was the person in Nora’s library? Why was it a library? Who would be your person and what would be your place?
- After visiting multiple lives, Nora tells the podcasters in her rockstar life that “maybe there are no easy paths. There are just paths…But there is no life where you can be in a state of sheer happiness for ever. And imagining there is just breeds more unhappiness in the life you’re in.” We’ve all heard this before, but how did seeing it play out in Nora’s story really hit this point home?
- Which of Nora’s lives did you enjoy the most? Why?
- Why do you think Nora left the life with Ash? Were you happy with the final ending of the book or not?
- At the end Nora realizes what Mrs Elm meant when she said “Never underestimate the big importance of small things.” We can all point back to small things that have made big impacts in our lives. What is one from your own?
- Did you enjoy the structure of this book? Was it ever hard to follow or did you enjoy how fast paced it was?
- There are many philosophical and scientific ideas presented in the book. Discuss your favorites (I.e. Thoreau’s Walden, parallel universes, Roger Dunbar and the Domesday Book, quantum superposition, etc.).
- Did you catch the fact that the music store was String Theory and the band was The Labyrinths, both tying into the theme? What other fun details did you notice?
- There have been many books lately about mental illness. What others have you read and liked? How does The Midnight Library compare?
Have you read The Midnight Library? What did you think? Did it satisfy you or were you left wishing for more? What are some similar books you’ve read?
Until next time, Happy Reading!
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