by Matt Haig
GENRE: magical realism, speculative fiction, philosophical fiction
CEFR LEVEL: C1 and above
I was immediately drawn to this novel when I saw the book cover and the title. A library open at midnight – what’s not to love?! 😊 Discovering that the author was Matt Haig was the icing on the cake (= made it even better). If you have never heard of Matt Haig, let me introduce you to him. He is a British writer of both speculative fiction (= fiction with supernatural or fantastical elements) and non-fiction. His number-one bestselling memoir Reasons to Stay Alive deals with his experiences of severe depression and anxiety.
In the Midnight Library, our main character Nora Seed is a woman in her 30s who has many regrets in her life and feels alienated in the world. In her darkest moment, she finds herself in the Midnight Library where she is faced with books containing the lives she could have had if she had taken a different decision (big or small) at some point in her life. We follow her as she lives these alternate realities: different career paths, different relationships, different countries … but will she find a “perfect” life?
The Midnight Library is an uplifting (= inspiring hope, optimism) and thought-provoking story about the choices we make, the paths we choose and our place in this world. I have rated it as appropriate for C1-level English learners. Although the chapters are quite short and there is a lot of dialogue, both the “magical” and “philosophical” elements of the story could make it more difficult for lower levels to follow and fully understand. It is definitely a novel that gives you food for thought (= something to think about).
Try it and if you like it, I also strongly recommend How to Stop Time by the same author.