10 Books Like the Midnight Library: Second Chances, Regrets and Time Travel

Updated on

| by

The Midnight Library is a mind-bending, complicated story of a woman who was drowning in her own regrets. Nora felt hemmed-in by her choices, constantly looking for someone else to blame. She couldn’t see her own value and it drove her over the brink.

The book used the unique device of a magical library and a parallel lives element to help Nora navigate her way out of the regret spiral. Do you want to explore more characters navigating their regrets? Are you keen for more narratives on alternative lives or time travel? Maybe another magical library or one that catches on fire?

Then you are in the right place, because this list of books like The Midnight Library offers all of that.

Books like The Midnight Library, with book covers.

(This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you choose to purchase, I’ll make a small commission.)

10 Books Like The Midnight Library

Well do have 10 books that are similar to The Midnight Library listed here in this article. But in addition, you if you love libraries, librarians and magical texts, then your TBR is going to blow up. Check out our lists of books about librarians, books set in libraries and books about books (maps and magical texts).

If you’ve read this book for book club, be sure to use our Midnight Library discussion guide.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, book cover.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, V.E. Schwab

Addie LaRue is like The Midnight Library in that it deeply explores the unintended consequences of your choices.

Addie is trying to escape the confines of an unwanted arranged marriage. She does a deal with the actual devil in order to avoid the marriage. But her deal comes with the unexpected consequence of an immortal life. She meets and falls in love with a New York bookseller who made a different deal with the same devil. 

The book gives you Addie’s backstory and her path to finding love and mortality once again. It keys on The Midnight Library’s themes of regret and a bookish setting. 

Read it for book club and use our Addie LaRue book club guide.

The Librarian Christy Sloat book cover

The Librarian (#1 The Librarian Chronicles), by Christy Sloat

If you loved The Midnight Library‘s Mrs. Elm– and– you want more mysterious texts that do magical things — and — some time travel would be nice, then this is the next read for you.

This book is like Outlander but less swordplay, more books, and a more manageable page count. But you still get the time travel element, a hunky gent and lots of “will they, won’t they”.

When Emme inherits the role of librarian from her Gran, little does she know that the library holds a cache of ancient magical books (and also a magical librarian ring, because why not). When Emme looks into one of the books, she finds herself transported to England in 1892, where she meets the handsome Jack Ridgewell. A memorable adventure ensues…and sparks fly.

This is the first in a series of books that feature stories of different librarians who each have a similar time-traveling power.

How to Stop Time book cover

How to Stop Time, Matt Haig

For what to read next after The Midnight Library, you should consider exploring Haig’s backlist

How to Stop Time was published in 2018. It explores the exact opposite problem as The Midnight Library. Where in Library, Nora’s life is short and she has regrets about her choices, in Time, Tom ages abnormally slowly and has all the time in the world to explore his options.

But his life is constricted by a shadowy organization and his own desire to explore elusive love. The two books together will have you thinking a lot about how the passage of time affects our choices.

Oona Out of Order, book cover.

Oona Out of Order, Margarita Montemore

Like Nora, Oona keeps waking up in a different time, framed by a different versions of her life. Oona’s journey starts when she is just 19 and continues on every New Year’s Eve. So her jumps are less about choices that she’s already made, and more about how her life plays out…but in a non-linear timeline.

Her jumps are somewhat guided by letters and missives from her older self, but she still has to navigate her disorienting condition…every single year.

Oona’s time jumps are definitely a mind-bender and the book provides a lot of emotional fodder for her relationships and personal growth.

End of Days, book cover.

The End of Days, Jenny Erpenbeck

(Susan Bernofsky, Translator)

The “what if” of this novel is actually posed by the author herself. The story is told in a series of 5 novellas. In the first, a child dies and that story explores what happens to their parents. But what if that isn’t the end? What if the child hadn’t died then, what would have happened?

The book spools out a series of possibilities in a tightly orchestrated story set during a particularly turbulent political period in Europe.

Life After Life, book cover.

Life After Life, Kate Atkinson

Like Oona and End of Days, Atkinson’s novel is also similar to The Midnight Library in that it explores the many and varied ways that a life can spool out. However, in the case of Ursula Todd, she keeps dying, but then like a hitch in the Matrix, she is suddenly not dead. She dies at birth, by falling off a roof, from drowning, and from gas inhalation. But then she doesn’t.

Her hazy memories of her past deaths allow her to make different choices and avoid that same fate again. This forces her to contend with large-scale moral choices, made even more urgent because a lot of the action is set in England during WWII.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold, book cover.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold (#1), Toshikazu Kawaguchi

(Geoffrey Trousselot, Translator)

The Midnight Library and other time-travel narratives often have a very expansive feel, as if these parallel lives are as infinite as the galaxies. This book isn’t that.

In this small coffee shop in Tokyo, you can travel back to revisit an event…but there are rules. You have to sit in a specific spot, you can revisit the event (but are unlikely to be able to change it), and you had better conclude your business and finish your coffee before it gets cold, or you may not make it back at all.

The four time travelers profiled in the story aren’t trying to change the past so much as gain a better insight into what happened during an important event. The book is intimate, with a languid pace and plenty of feels.

The Collected Regrets of Clover, book cover.

The Collected Regrets of Clover, Mikki Brammer

Clover is a death doula, helping usher people into a peaceful and respectful death. She keeps a notebook of observations about her client’s regrets and confessions, but she’s so focused on them, that she’s never taken stock of her own regrets.

Then Clover meets Claudia, a terminally ill but spirited ninety-one-year-old former photojournalist. Claudia’s story wakes up Clover to her own regrets and (surprisingly), she agrees to help Claudia set right one of her own regrets. And along the way Clover is awakened to a more expansive worldview.

No magical librarians or time-traveling coffee mugs here. Just a heartwarming story of a woman learning to grow and change.

Maame, book cover.

Maame, Jessica George

If you found yourself frustrated with Nora’s inability to own her choices and grab life by the horns, you’ll find some of that in Maddie. But, over the course of this book Maddie does indeed learn how to take charge of her life while navigating some very challenging family dynamics.

London-based Maddie’s overbearing mother spends huge chunks of time in her native Ghana, leaving Maddie to care for her very ill father. Her brother is MIA and her father’s Parkinson’s care requires a lot of emotional and financial resources, which Maddie handles from the insecure position of a cruddy admin job.

And yet despite these responsibilities, Maddie is naïve and inexperienced when is comes to being a young professional woman in the city. When her mom returns from Ghana, Maddie takes the opportunity to move-out, get a better job and start experiencing new friendships, romances and adulting.

Then a tragic event shakes her up and once again she needs to rethink things. This book offers a touching look at grief, dysfunctional family relationships, being the only black face at work, and the hard work of finding happiness.

Here’s our Maame book club discussion guide.

The Library Book cover

The Library Book, Susan Orlean

That final scene in The Midnight Library gave us the shivers. Who burns down a library? The horror! Well that very thing happened to the historic downtown LA library in 1989.

In this non-fiction pick, Orleans chases down the mystery of how and why the library caught fire and along the way, she illuminates the nature of libraries and the librarians who staff them.

If you read it for book club, we have a discussion guide for the The Library Book.

More Sci-Fi and Fantasy Readalikes

Share these books like The Midnight Library with your friends:

Share on Social Media

Meet our Writers:

Leave a Comment