Looking for The Midnight Library book club questions for your next reading group meeting? Here are 15 thought-provoking discussion questions to get you guys going!
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is a moving, emotional story about a woman on the cusp of taking her own life. Nora Seed is lonely and struggling with depression.
She visits a magical library, which allows her to visit alternate versions of her life: from visiting Australia with a friend to becoming a famous rock star.
The book examines the endless possibilities of life, both good and bad, and it has an important message about mental health and the importance of connecting with other people. It’s an excellent choice for a book club!
If you’re looking for ideas, check out these book club questions for The Midnight Library to get the conversation started.
The Midnight Library Book Club Questions
The main character, Nora, is in a dark place at the start of the novel and prepares to take her own life.
How do you think the book handled the subject of suicide? Did Nora’s character feel real to you?
Nora has long-standing mental health issues, but the crisis at the start of the book is triggered by a series of unfortunate events happening at once: her cat dies, she loses her job, her music student resigns from lessons, and even her elderly neighbour Mr Banerjee doesn’t need her help anymore, which makes her feel redundant.
What do you think the book is trying to say about loneliness? How would things have played out if Nora had a friend or family member she could talk to?
Nora wakes up after attempting suicide outside a strange building. A librarian appears to explain everything to Nora. Nora remembers her as Mrs Elm, her school librarian, with whom she has a personal connection.
What do you think about the character of Mrs Elm? Why do you think Nora saw her at the library, and why is she so significant to Nora?
In the library, there is a special book, named The Book Of Regrets. It contains Nora’s biggest regrets in life, from not pursuing a career in music to feeling too much guilt.
What do you think Nora regrets the most? Do you think it’s possible to go through life with no regrets at all?
Nora finds out that she can visit different versions of her life via the library, using books. The first life she visits is one in which she marries her ex-fiance, Dan.
In this version of her life, Nora and Dan run a pub in the countryside. However, she finds out that Dan cheated on her, and the couple is desperately unhappy.
What do you think of Nora and Dan’s relationship? Do you think visiting this version of her life helped Nora to close the door on that relationship for good?
Nora tries out a few different dreams: in one, she moves to Australia with her friend Izzy, she tries to become an Olympic swimmer, and she even goes to live in the Arctic as a researcher with a man, Hugo, who is also testing out alternate realities for himself.
Which one of these lives was the most interesting for you? Did any of them surprise you? Were there any lives you would have wanted her to explore that we didn’t get to see?
Music is incredibly important to Nora, and one of her biggest regrets is giving up on her band. In one timeline, she becomes a famous rockstar, but this leads to a bad outcome for her brother, Joe.
Were you surprised that this version of her life didn’t work out? What does this say about our ideas and dreams versus the actual reality of those dreams?
Nora’s favourite alternate life is the one in which she settles down with Ash, eventually having a daughter with him. Nora is happy in this life, but she still doesn’t feel it belongs to her.
Were you sad that Nora had to give up this version of her life? Would you have liked to see her stay there forever?
We’re definitely heading into spoiler territory here!
Nora realises that the library hovers somewhere between life and death; time collapses and expands here, but ultimately, she has to make a choice whether to go back.
She finds out that her absence has an impact on people around her: her neighbour ends up in a care home, the music shop she works in closes down, and her music student suffers without her.
What do you think Nora learns about herself in this moment? What do you think the novel is trying to say about the human desire to be needed by other people?
The library starts to fall apart when Nora decides she wants to stay in her life. Three words save her: I Am Alive.
What did you think of this message? Did you find it hopeful and inspiring, or did you find it to be too simple?
Nora fights for her life and recovers. She makes some positive changes, and she has a totally new outlook on her own worth.
Did you like the ending? Do you think it was a realistic outcome for Nora?
Let’s talk about the strange, magical nature of the library itself.
Do you think you’d want to visit different versions of your own life? If so, which version would you want to try out the most?
Nora’s experience changes her forever, and she goes ahead with a newfound appreciation for life and the people she loves.
Do you think, within the bounds of the story, it really happened? Or do you think the whole experience was Nora dreaming in her unconscious state?
If you’ve read Haig’s non-fiction work, how do you think it compared to The Midnight Library? Do you think writing fiction, as opposed to non-fiction, allowed Haig to explore these themes in a different way?
The Midnight Library ends on a hopeful note as Nora and Mrs Elm play chess together.
What do you think the main message of the story was? How did it make you feel when you finished it?
The Midnight Library is a moving book with plenty of deep topics to discuss. I hope this has helped to facilitate your next book club meeting!
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Megan is a freelance writer based in Somerset, England. When she’s not writing about books, video games, and pop culture, she’s running around after her two kids and trying to squeeze in the occasional walk in the countryside.