10 Books to Read if You Loved The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Matt Haig’s newest novel, The Midnight Library, resonated with me on a deep level and I know I’m not the only reader who felt that way!
This book came into my life at the right time. I received a serious health diagnosis a few months prior and have been wallowing in regrets and what-ifs, which is not something I did much before. Following along with Nora as she explores all the untaken paths in her life helped me to see that it’s not worth spending my energy on regrets. It motivated me to focus on my now and my future, which I appreciate.
If you liked the book too, or if the sounds of it appeals to you, here are ten other novels (one by the same author) that tackle similar themes and play with time and space.
10 Books to Read if You Loved The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
Oona is a woman who is living a life in which each year she wakes up on her birthday (which happens to be New Years Day) she is living a different year of her life out of order. The story gets pretty dang bizarre in spots, though it remains surprisingly emotionally moving. It’s ultimately about a woman trying to figure out who she is, which is relatable even when you’re living your life chronologically! Oona’s family plays a huge role in her dis-ordered life, as well as love interests. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Brittany Pressley, and highly recommend that format. She does an amazing job as Oona and gave the story emotion in all the right places.
The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle
Fun fact: This is the only book that has ever made me cry! And I’m not talking teared up, I’m talking sobbing and dripping tears onto the pages. The writing is fairly simple, no profound prose here, yet how the author weaves together two concepts to make a simple story extraordinary is exceptional. The story and characters more than make up for any other place there may be some lack. Sabrina and Tobias have an epic love story, which on its own would be compelling. We receive the story folded in with Sabrina’s birthday dinner, the guests of which happen to be those from a list she made in college when faced with the question: If you could have dinner with any five people, living or dead, who would they be? Sabrina struggles to determine if this dinner party is real or not, and I did too at first. If the reader can suspend disbelief and sink down into this world, the payoffs are enormous.
Kindred by Octavia Butler
This is the first science fiction novel written by a Black woman. I haven’t read it yet but I have a copy of my shelf. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads: This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity. Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given.
How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
Here’s another fantastical novel from the author of The Midnight Library. Our protagonist is Tom, who may look like an ordinary forty-something history teacher but has an incredible secret, he’s been alive for centuries! But Tom is tired and now he wants to live an ordinary life with the fascinating French teacher at his new school. However the secretive society who protects people like Tom start to freak out and want to derail his new life. So Tom has to decide once and for all if he wants to continue his life as it’s been or stay living in the present. It’s ultimately a novel about weathering change, about finding yourself, and how we learn to prioritize our own happiness over others’ demands on us.
The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult
From Goodreads: 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 a man she last saw fifteen years ago: Wyatt Armstrong.After the crash landing, the airline ensures the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation wherever they want to go. The obvious option for Dawn is to continue down the path she is on and go home to her family. The other is to 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 beside 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?
11/22/63 by Stephen King
This is a work of historical fiction with a sci-fi twist. It’s not horror per se, except it’s written by King. From Goodreads: Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk. Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
This was my top read of 2017. It’s a work of magical realism that challenges reader’s perceptions of immigration. We follow Saeed and Nadia, a young couple forced to keep their relationship secret. They decide to escape their war-torn homeland, which involves sneaking through a series of checkpoints and passageways to get to the magical door that transports refugees to safety. There’s a series of such doors all over the world, allowing refugees to step out into a new safe place over and over. But it turns out to not be as simple as it seems to start over again and again. Saeed and Nadia grow as a couple and as individuals throughout their journey and don’t necessarily end up where they expected to. This is a relatively short novel that still manages to feel epic.
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
Here’s another story about a mystical library. From Goodreads: Carolyn’s not so different from the other people around her. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. Clothes are a bit tricky, but everyone says nice things about her outfit with the Christmas sweater over the gold bicycle shorts. After all, she was a normal American herself once. That was a long time ago, of course. Before her parents died. Before she and the others were taken in by the man they called Father. In the years since then, Carolyn hasn’t had a chance to get out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient customs. They’ve studied the books in his Library and learned some of the secrets of his power. And sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God. Now, Father is missing—perhaps even dead—and the Library that holds his secrets stands unguarded. And with it, control over all of creation. As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her, all of them with powers that far exceed her own. But Carolyn has accounted for this. And Carolyn has a plan. The only trouble is that in the war to make a new God, she’s forgotten to protect the things that make her human.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
From Goodreads: In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place. Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.
Recursion by Blake Crouch
This won the award for Best Science fiction book in the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards. From Goodreads: Memory makes reality. That’s what NYC cop Barry Sutton is learning, as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived. That’s what neuroscientist Helena Smith believes. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious memories. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent. As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face to face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds, but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it. But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?
I hope this list introduces you to some new stories that you’ll enjoy. Is there anything else you’d add to my list? As always, I’d love to hear from you!