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Books Like The Midnight Library

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Have you ever asked, “what if”? What might your life be if you’d just made one different choice along the way? What if you’d said yes to that invitation? What if you’d pursued that passion? What if you’d turned left instead of right? In The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, Nora gets the answers to those questions and so many more.

It’s a fascinating premise and one that left us wanting to read more books that dive into questions of what you’d do differently if you had the chance. If you liked The Midnight Library, then you’re definitely going to enjoy our list of curated titles that explore similar themes of alternate realities, second chances, and fate versus free will.

Three angled book covers with The Midnight Library in the center

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Synopsis of The Midnight Library

Nora has decided she is done. Done with the way her life is going. In a moment of darkness, she attempts suicide, but between life and death, she finds herself in The Midnight Library. The shelves go on and on, and inside each book is a life that she could have lived, had she made just one different choice somewhere along the way – from following dreams to pursuing different careers to undoing old breakups.

Each time she opens a book, she finds herself living that alternate life, and she is faced with the decision of whether she wants to permanently exchange her life for a new one. As she visits these alternate realities, she’ll have to decide not only which life she wants, but also what makes life worth living in the first place.

Some say that this novel is too predictable – and it’s true that The Midnight Library summary tells you exactly what to expect – but this is a book that will really make you think… not just about Nora’s choices and regrets, but also your own.

The Midnight Library Genre

While the genre of The Midnight Library is often listed as fantasy, we think it’s more accurately described as magical realism. Fantasy usually takes place in an unreal world with unreal characters. Magical realism stories, on the other hand, take place primarily in the real world. They employ magical elements to make a point about reality or to allow us to examine our world from another point of view.

Like The Midnight Library, nearly all of the books on the list below include a small dose of magical realism. But these books are also firmly rooted in the real world – with real people facing real struggles. Through the magical elements in each story (alternate lives, time looping, glimpsing the future, or revisiting the past), the main characters learn about themselves and their place in the world.

Books Similar to the Midnight Library

Books About Alternate Realities

The Midnight Library explores the infinite possibilities of lives every person can live depending on the choices they make along the way. Each of our book recommendations in this section also involves the idea of alternate realities or dual lives playing out in the same timeline.

SECOND CHANCE NOVELS

After opening different books in the Midnight Library and visiting some of the other lives she could have led, Nora is forced to decide which life suits her best. Similarly, the characters in the novels below are given a second chance to write their life stories. Some of these books incorporate magical realism and others are squarely fixed in reality, but at the center of each is a woman who must choose which path to take to create the future she truly wants.

TIME LOOP BOOKS

Several reviewers have described The Midnight Library as a cross between It’s a Wonderful Life and Groundhog Day. In the former, George Bailey was given the opportunity to see what the world would be like without him in it. And in the latter, Phil Connors was forced to relive the same day over and over until he figured out how to be a better person. The time loop novels below draw on the Groundhog Day theme.

We’ve all had a day where we did something embarrassing or made a decision we regret and wished for a do-over. The main characters in each of these books are given just that opportunity - but sometimes it’s a blessing, and sometimes it's a curse.

BOOKS WITH NONLINEAR TIMELINES

One particular element of magical realism that authors love to explore is the concept of non-linear time. When time has no bounds, characters can examine their lives from entirely new perspectives.

In the novels below, the characters are given either a glimpse into their future or an opportunity to revisit their past. But what will they do with these insights? Or perhaps the better question is, what can they do? Is the future already written, or can they change the course of their life story?

What to Read Next…

If you ever find yourself wondering what to read next, we’re here to help! We have an entire collection of fun book suggestions based on a variety of different books and TV shows, from Where the Crawdads Sing to Downton Abbey. Click here to browse all of our “If You Liked…” booklists.

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