If New York Times bestseller, 2020 Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction, and GMA book club pick The Midnight Library by Matt Haig left you pondering philosophical questions of life and death, these powerful The Midnight Library quotes will inspire you and make you think deeply.
The Midnight Library Summary
In The Midnight Library, thirty-five year old Nora finds out from a handsome young surgeon, Ash, that her beloved cat has been killed. Then, she is fired from her job of twelve years. These and even more sad occurences leave Nora feeling unneeded in the world.
She takes a bottle, hoping to die, but wakes up at midnight in a massive library. The librarian explains that, “between life and death there is a library… Every book provides a chance to choose another life you could have lived.” Nora may choose from books to see the array of alternative lives she may have lived.
One other books, The Book of Regrets, is different. She can pick from a regret then match it to the alternate life to see how things may have been different. She lives various alternative lives, only to realize she no longer wants to die.
The more alternate lives Nora lives, the more perspective she gains and the easier it is for her to imagine a better life for herself. Through The Midnight Library, she has learned both to envision the life she wants and to live it with less fear.
She returns to The Midnight Library, but it is self-destructing. She is barely able to write, "I AM ALIVE," before it disappears, and she awakens in real life.
Nora reconnets with important people and contemplates her future.
The Midnight Library Quotes
Below are the best The Midnight Library quotes that will inspire you and make you think. I think it would be great to use them as journaling prompts, whether you agree with them or not!
I also included many quotes about books and libraries because, as a book lover, I just couldn't help myself.
"Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices… Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?"
“So long as there are still books on the shelves, you are never trapped. Every book is a potential escape.”
“Librarians have knowledge. They guide you to the right books. The right words. They find the best places. Like soul-enhanced search engines.”
“It turned out to be near impossible to stand in a library and not want to pull things from the shelves.”
“Where there were books, there was always the temptation to open them.”
“Every life contains many millions of decisions. Some big, some small. But every time one decision is taken over another, the outcomes differ. An irreversible variation occurs, which in turn leads to further variations.”
"Nora had always had the sense that she came from a long line of regrets and crushed hopes that seemed to echo in every generation."
"When you have worries about things you don't know about, like the future, its a very good idea to remind yourself of things you do know."
“Fear was when you wandered into a cellar and worried that the door would close shut. Despair was when the door closed and locked behind you.”
“Regrets don’t leave. They weren’t mosquito bites. They itch for ever.”
“It is not the lives we regret not living that are the real problem. It is the regret itself. It’s the regret that makes us shrivel and wither and feel like our own and other people’s worst enemy. We can’t tell if any of those other versions would have been better or worse. Those lives are happening, it is true, but you are happening as well, and that is the happening we have to focus on.”
“Stamina is essential to stay focused in a life filled with distraction. It is the ability to stick to a task when your body and mind are at their limit, the ability to keep your head down, swimming in your lane, without looking around, worrying who might overtake you . .”
“But you will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”
“Happy moments can turn into pain, given time.”
“You can have everything and feel nothing.”
“To be part of nature was to be part of the will to live.”
“She realised that she hadn’t tried to end her life because she was miserable, but because she had managed to convince herself that there was no way out of her misery.”
"There is no rejection, there is the only redirection."
"As Thoreau wrote, ‘It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see."
"We only need to be one person.
We only need to feel one existence.
We don’t have to do everything in order to be everything, because we are already infinite. While we are alive we always contain a future of multifarious possibility."
"If you aim to be something you are not, you will always fail. Aim to be you. Aim to look and act and think like you. Aim to be the truest version of you. Embrace that you-ness. Endorse it. Love it. Work hard at it. And don’t give a second thought when people mock it or ridicule it. Most gossip is envy in disguise."
“A person was like a city. You couldn’t let a few less desirable parts put you off the whole. There may be bits you don’t like, a few dodgy side streets and suburbs, but the good stuff makes it worthwhile.”
"The art of swimming was about purity. The more focused you were on the activity, the less focused you were on everything else. You kind of stopped being you and became the thing you were doing.”
“Every second of every day we are entering a new universe. And we spend so much time wishing our lives were different, comparing ourselves to other people and to other versions of ourselves, when really most lives contain degrees of good and degrees of bad.”
“And that sadness is intrinsically part of the fabric of happiness. You can’t have one without the other. Of course, they come in different degrees and quantities. But there is no life where you can be in a state of sheer happiness forever. And imagining there is just breeds more unhappiness in the life you’re in.”
“Love and laughter and fear and pain are universal currencies.”
“She realized that you could be as honest as possible in life, but people only see the truth if it is close enough to their reality.”
“The only way to learn is to live.”
“In the face of death, life seemed more attractive.”
"You need to pick the life you would be most happy inside. Life could be worth living, if only you found the right one to exist inside."
"When you stay too long in a place, you forget just how big an expanse the world is. [...] But once you sense that vastness, once something reveals it, hope emerges, whether you want it to or not, and it clings to you as stubbornly as lichen clings to rock."
"Once you sense that vastness of life, hope emerges."
“It is quite a revelation to discover that the place you wanted to escape to is the exact same place you escaped from. That the prison wasn’t the place, but the perspective.”
“We only know what we perceive. Everything we experience is ultimately just our perception of it. “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
“Maybe that’s what all lives were, though. Maybe even the most seemingly perfectly intense or worthwhile lives ultimately felt the same. Acres of disappointment and monotony and hurts and rivalries but with flashes of wonder and beauty. Maybe that was the only meaning that mattered. To be the world, witnessing itself.”
"The paradox of volcanoes was that they were symbols of destruction but also life. Once the lava slows and cools, it solidifies and then breaks down over time to become soil – rich, fertile soil. She wasn't a black hole, she decided. She was a volcano. And like a volcano she couldn't run away from herself. She'd have to stay there and tend to that wasteland. She could plant a forest inside herself."
“Of course, we can't visit every place or meet every person or do every job, yet most of what we'd feel in any life is still available. We don't have to play every game to know what winning feels like. We don't have to hear every piece of music in the world to understand music. We don't have to have tried every variety of grape from every vineyard to know the pleasure of wine. Love and laughter and fear and pain are universal currencies. We just have to close our eyes and savour the taste of the drink in front of us and listen to the song as it plays. We are as completely and utterly alive as we are in any other life and have access to the same emotional spectrum.”
“Sometimes just to say your own truth out loud is enough to find others like you.”
“The thing that looks the most ordinary might end up being the thing that leads you to victory.”
“You see, doing one thing differently is very often the same as doing everything differently.”
“Never underestimate the big importance of small things.”
"You don't have to understand life, you just have to live it."
“She didn’t want to die. And she didn’t want to live any other life than the one that was hers. The one that could be a messy struggle, but it was her messy struggle. A beautiful messy struggle.”
“So let’s be kind to the people in our own existence. Let’s occasionally look up from the spot in which we are because, wherever we happen to be standing, the sky above goes on for ever. Yesterday I knew I had no future, and that it was impossible for me to accept my life as it is now. And yet today, that same messy life seems full of hope. Potential. The impossible, I suppose, happens via living. Will my life be miraculously free from pain, despair, grief, heartbreak, hardship, loneliness, depression? No. But do I want to live? Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes.”
I hope these The Midnight Library quotes have re-connected you with this powerful book and made you think more deeply about it.