What would you do if I told you that somewhere out there, there was a library filled with books? I’ve already got your interest, I see. Well, then prepare to be amazed because these are not just any books. Oh no.
Each one tells the story of another life. Your life. The life you would have lived had you made just one different choice. What would you do if you found yourself in this library?
Would you sneak a peek at the life you could have led? And how would that change the life you had now? This is the tale of Nora Seed. This is The Midnight Library. Ah, how amazing was this novel?
The sign of a great book is when you are physically incapable of putting it down. And if like me, you devoured through the pages of The Midnight Library at lightning speed, you’re probably a little lost as to what to read next.
And it’s unsurprising really, that we’ve all got a serious case of book hangover with this New York Times best-seller.
The Midnight Library has won tons of awards for capturing our hearts and minds such as the winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction, and Independent Ten Best Books of The Year.
So, if you just can’t get The Midnight Library out of your head, you need to add these equally emotionally fulfilling novels such as A Cup Of Silver Linings, Night Theater, and The Body In The Clouds to your book wishlist!
And so the love affair begins again.
The Themes Of The Midnight Library
There are so many different themes in The Midnight Library that honestly, I could write 100-page essays about them.
I won’t subject you to that. But I do want to quickly talk about the main themes seen in the book that stole our hearts completely. Let’s take a look. Spoiler Alert – the plot of The Midnight Library will be discussed below.
Choice & Regret
One of the most prevalent, and arguably most relatable themes throughout this novel is choice and regret. Every reader, much like our protagonist Nora, has been faced with a choice at some point in their lives.
And again, much like Nora, we often make the wrong ones. We choose inaction, maybe because we’re scared or anxious. But ultimately we come to regret the decision we’ve made.
When at the library, Nora is forced to reckon with her own regrets but learns a lot along the way. In another life, she’s rich and famous but her brother also dies.
The message here is pretty clear – good choices don’t always correlate to good outcomes. While we may all have regrets about the choices that we make, we’ll never know until we make them.
We just have to live our lives the best we can. Don’t let regret run your life or ruin your future decisions.
Philosophy & The Meaning Of Life
Philosophy and the meaning of life run deep throughout the novel. Throughout the story, Nora spends much of her time contemplating the meaning of life in ways that are majorly influenced by Western Philosophy.
You’ll see brief references throughout such as the name of her car Voltaire or the tattoo of her favorite line from Thoreau.
Eventually, with the help of Hugo Lefevre, Nora comes to believe that the library is nothing more than a philosophical construct in her mind to make sense of parallel universes.
Ultimately, despite her best efforts, Nora never finds the answer to what is the meaning of life but what she does learn is much more vital. You may not know why you’re alive, but you must appreciate every second that you are.
Relationships & Forgiveness
As Nora shifts from life to life, her relationships with her loved ones change. You’ll notice that the changes in these relationships are often an indicator of the life’s suitability.
Whenever she is not close to Joe and Izzy, something feels off. When she is close to them, she feels as if a universal wrong has been made right.
Throughout each life, it becomes abundantly clear that her life choices and decisions also have implications for those around her.
In one life, her friends died indirectly because of Nora’s absence, when she becomes a professional athlete her father survives from being inspired by his daughter.
Ultimately, Nora learns that each one of us has genuine and complex motivations, just like her.
She realizes that everyone is just as lost when making decisions and choices and it allows her to feel a sense of both peace and forgiveness for those who have wronged her and herself.
It’s a beautiful message to take away that everyone is just living life the best way that they know how, and that while people can be held accountable for their actions, we should never hold grudges.
Books Like The Midnight Library
A Cup Of Silver Linings – Karen Hawkins
Ava Dove is set to open up her eccentric tearoom tomorrow morning. Only there’s one problem – her teas are going haywire. The sleep-inducing tea is giving clients startling vivid dreams.
The romance-kindling tea has turned into some sort of truth serum that forces clients to spill their deepest darkest secrets. Meanwhile, her employee Kristen has started looking for her real father after uncovering some family secrets.
It soon becomes evident that Kristen might actually be the key to fixing Ava’s problems. And so begins a tale of a somewhat reluctant yet magical journey of friendship and healing.
- Charming Characters – You meet such wonderfully charming and distinct characters along the journey of this story. They are so well-developed and full of love. Hawkins has a way of making you fall in love and root for each and every one of them.
- Life-Affirming – If you enjoyed The Midnight Library for its poignant themes and messages about how to treat those around you and live life to the fullest, then you’ll adore this book. Those same key messages run throughout the novel.
- Several Storylines – There are several storylines that run throughout the plot of this story. And at times they can feel a little confusing or rushed. It can feel as if they need more fleshing out and attention to detail.
Themes: Young Adult, Magical Realism, Greif, and Healing.
The Year We Turned Forty – Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
If you could start the year over again and make different choices, what would you do differently? When a group of three best friends gets the chance to relive the year they turned 40, this is a question they must all ask themselves.
Jessie adores her son more than anything in the world, but it eats her alive inside knowing that he was a product of her infidelity which ended the marriage to the love of her life.
This time around she is determined to bury the secret of her son’s paternity and repair the issues that initially led to her wandering astray.
Gabriela lives with the regret of always putting her publishing career first, and wasting away her most fertile years. Sure, she’s the bestselling author she always dreamed of becoming, but with no family around her, it’s a lonelier life than she expected.
This time around, she is sure she’ll finally get the baby she realizes she’s always wanted. Claire has actually made peace with the life that she has led. Despite all the turmoil, she now has a beautiful child and fiancé.
But deep down, she knows she’ll always regret not spending more time with her mother before it’s too late. She now plans to right this wrong.
But as the three girls soon learn, with new choices come new consequences. What if the mistakes they’d made before were perhaps the best choices of all?
- Similar Premise – If you adored The Midnight Library for its themes and core message then you’ll adore this funny and witty story that has an almost identical premise. You’ll be left analyzing the lives of these characters and how the choices they make along the way can impact their lives forever.
- Emotional Rollercoaster – This incredibly well-written book will have you feeling every emotion possible. There are light-hearted and funny moments that will have you laughing out loud and yet there are moments that will have you sobbing your heart out. You’ll really ride out each emotion as the character feels it as these two talented authors really suck you into their world.
- Slow Starter – The first third of this book moves at a relatively slow pace that can be hard to really get into at first. But it is definitely worth the perseverance as it really kicks in around the halfway point.
Themes: Choice & Regret, Magical Realism, and The Importance Of Relationships.
Night Theater – Vikram Paralkar
Fleeing from scandal, a surgeon accepts a job at a village clinic. It’s not the most lucrative of jobs. He buys out-of-pocket antibiotics and squashes roaches. But one fateful night, life as he knows it changes forever.
A teacher, his pregnant wife, and his young son appear at the clinic one night and detail how they had all lost their lives in a brutal robbery.
But as long as he can mend all of their wounds before the sun will rise, they can all have a second opportunity at life. And so begins the hardest, and quietest, night of this surgeon’s life.
Throughout the night, he learns that their futures are more tied than he might ever have imagined. And by first light the morning after, he and his assistant have access to information that no mere mortal should ever know.
- Unique Read – Both scientific and philosophical, this book is really unlike anything else I have ever read. It is beautiful and poignant, yet filled with suspense and intrigue. No character in the book is named either, which is an unusual format that I haven’t seen before.
- Important Key Messages Throughout – Much like The Midnight Library, this book leaves you contemplating and questioning the perceptions of faith, life and death, and the relationships and choices made throughout your life.
- Graphic – This story is written by a physician who details accurate and graphic descriptions of the procedures which might be too much for some readers.
Themes: Life And Death, Moral Obligation, and Magical Realism.
The Body In The Clouds – Ashley Hay
If you looked up into the sky and saw something you’d never expect to see, something that could forever transform space and time, what would you do?
This is what three men, standing on the same plot of land at three completely different time periods, must ask themselves.
An astronomer during the 1700s, a bridge worker during the 1930s, and a banker from the 21st century, all look up into the sky to see a man hurtling down towards earth.
And if that wasn’t surprising enough, the fact that he survives certainly is. This magical event will single-handedly transform each of their lives as they know it.
And it evokes a journey to understanding what it means to be home. As well as how to recognize when you’re there.
- Three Stories Perfectly Interwoven – This beautiful tale is really a true masterpiece created by Hay. The way that she is able to vividly describe three separate timelines, create three completely different characters, and different perspectives that weave and intertwine together in ways that resonate together as a collective is astounding.
- Poignant – The message of this story is really heartfelt and beautiful. It leaves you contemplating the way every event in your life impacts what happens next. It also leaves you evaluating your own truth of what makes you, you.
- Slow Read – While this book leaves you with lots to reflect on and has a very important core message, the plot can be slow-moving at times.
Themes: Defining The World Around Us, The Power Of Your Own Story, Questions That Transcend Through Time, and Magical Realism.
Millard Salter’s Last Day – Jacob M. Appel
As Millard Salter grows older, the idea of growing old and alone is the worst fate of all. And so he resolves to end it all before that feared reality approaches. And so begins his final day on earth.
He has loose ends that he needs to tie up before he departs and so sets upon visiting his ex-wife’s grave, to confront his other ex-wife, and part some final words of wisdom to his chronically unemployed son.
However, as Millard starts to wrap up the final day of his life, he learns that he wasn’t the only one with plans for the day. And his family has a big surprise in store for him.
- Contrast Of Light & Dark – While this book touches on some pretty dark themes, the book overall is anything but. Appel has such a way to counteract the darkness with light. At times you’ll be scrambling for the tissues and then 30 seconds later you’re laughing so hard your stomach hurts. The story evokes such powerful emotions throughout.
- Deep Character Connection – The way in which Appel forces us to fall in love with the protagonist is easy and effortless. He keeps you gripped as we are given more and more details about Millard as the story progresses. From anecdotes to actions, we bond so incredibly with this character that it compels us to reevaluate the choices we make before it’s too late. Your love for this character enables you to look inwards in a spellbinding way.
- Sensitive Topic – The plot line of this book is quite a sensitive one that might be quite triggering for some readers. While there are many light-hearted and heart-warming moments, there is a dark underlying premise that may be too upsetting for some individuals.
Themes: Assisted suicide, Life & Death, Love, Relationships, and Redemption.
When you read a really great book, it can almost feel like you need to mourn the fact you’ve finished it. The characters, the plot, the questions, you just can’t get them out of your head.
And moving on to a new book and leaving them behind is almost physically painful. Luckily, there is a cure to soothe such heartache. Find a phenomenal book that captivates your mind, heart, and soul in very much the same ways.
Any of the aforementioned books will be the antidote to your book hangover. Let the new book binge begin!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is The Midnight Library Appropriate For Young Teens?
I would recommend The Midnight Library to those aged 15 and above. This is because the story tackles heavy topics such as mental health and attempted suicide that may not be appropriate for younger readers.
Is There A Sequel To The Midnight Library?
If you adored this book, you may be hoping for a sequel. Unfortunately, this is a standalone book that is not part of a series. Thankfully, there are many similar novels that you will enjoy