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Book club questions for The Midnight Library by Matt Haig takes a closer look at Nora’s unique journey. There will be spoilers so for more context about the story, check out my spoiler-free review first.
I personally loved this story. It’s definitely hard to read at times—especially in the beginning when Nora tries to take her own life. But this concept of The Midnight Library is so unique and creative. And it really allowed the author to pinpoint about how living in the past and full of regrets, is no way to live in your present. And who’s to say that the choice would have been better? So interesting.
I really enjoyed all the different realities that Nora visited. I was surprised by each journey and how there’s always something off with the different paths she could have chosen. I loved how the story ended with (spoiler) Nora playing chess with Mrs. Elm in her original reality. So good.
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?
In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.
Book Club Questions for The Midnight Library
- Let’s start with Nora at the beginning of the novel. Nothing is going right for her and she feels her life is already full of so many regrets. Why did Nora feel this way? Why do you think she felt she had no other option but suicide?
- As Mrs. Elm tells Nora how The Midnight Library works, she asks her, what would you have done differently, if you had the chance to redo your regrets? Have you ever thought about if you made a different choice, what your life would be like now?
- If you somehow ended up in a place like The Midnight Library, how do you think you would handle it? Would you want to see all the different outcomes that your life could have taken?
- Nora goes to so many different realities from marrying her ex-boyfriend to studying glaciers. Which alternate reality did you find the most interesting?
- Every time Nora goes to one of these realities, there’s usually a lot of good but also something bad. Whether it’s her brother dying in the rock star storyline or her mother passing away alone when Nora kept going with swimming. What do you think the author was trying to say there with how each of these concepts had huge consequences?
- Let’s now talk about Nora’s relationship with the real-life Mrs. Elm. Why was this such a significant relationship for her?
- Throughout the novel, Nora realizes how people blamed her for their own shortcomings. And that the different realities she chose, were based on hoping for a better outcome for her loved ones. Let’s talk the significance of Nora realizing this. How did it help her move forward with her own life?
- What did you think about the storyline where Nora marries Ash and has a daughter? Why wasn’t she able to stay in this alternate reality?
- What were some of the key realizations that made her want to go back to her original life?
- How will things be different for Nora going forward? What happens next for her?
- What are some of the takeaways from Nora’s journey?
- In your opinion, what’s truly fulfilling in life?
Hope you enjoyed book club questions for The Midnight Library! Here are some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
Anxious People by Fredrick Backman is a charming novel full of a creative cast of characters.
Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix their own marriage. There’s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.
Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.
Rich with Fredrik Backman’s “pitch-perfect dialogue and an unparalleled understanding of human nature” (Shelf Awareness), Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope—the things that save us, even in the most anxious times.
The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult
The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult is another story that examines the impact of choices.
Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She’s on a plane when the flight attendant makes an announcement: Prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. The shocking thing is, the thoughts are not of her husband but of a man she last saw fifteen years ago: Wyatt Armstrong.
Dawn, miraculously, survives the crash, but so do all the doubts that have suddenly been raised. She has led a good life. Back in Boston, there is her husband, Brian, their beloved daughter, and her work as a death doula, in which she helps ease the transition between life and death for her clients.
But somewhere in Egypt is Wyatt Armstrong, who works as an archaeologist unearthing ancient burial sites, a career Dawn once studied for but was forced to abandon when life suddenly intervened. And now, when it seems that fate is offering her second chances, she is not as sure of the choice she once made.
After the crash landing, the airline ensures that the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation to wherever they want to go. The obvious destination is to fly home, but she could take another path: return to the archaeological site she left years before, reconnect with Wyatt and their unresolved history, and maybe even complete her research on The Book of Two Ways—the first known map of the afterlife.
As the story unfolds, Dawn’s two possible futures unspool side by side, as do the secrets and doubts long buried with them. Dawn must confront the questions she’s never truly asked: What does a life well lived look like? When we leave this earth, what do we leave behind? Do we make choices . . . or do our choices make us? And who would you be if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are right now?