ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Daily Archive: 01/01/2022

Saturday

1

January 2022

1

COMMENTS

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
Those who like a little philosophy and exploration of life with their novels.

In a nutshell:
Nora Seed has decided to stop living. She finds herself in some sort of limbo, a library filled with alternate versions of her life not lived.

Worth quoting:
“This was it. No one needed her. She was superfluous to the universe.”

“Sometimes regrets aren’t based on fact at all. Sometimes regrets are just … a load of bullshit.”

Why I chose it:
On my first flights since the pandemic started, I wanted to something comforting and interesting to read, and so picked this up at the airport. I ended up being so nervous I just watched movies the whole time, but thought this year I should be sure to read more fiction, so finally cracked it open.

Review:
What an utterly lovely book. I have seen author Haig’s books in shops before, but didn’t realize he wrote fiction as well as non-fiction.

I thought this book would be more like The End of Days, which was one of my favorites from last year, but it wasn’t. I mean, there are some shared elements, but it’s a wholly different experience.

We learn very early on that Nora’s life is not going well. Her mum and dad are both dead, her brother seems to not speak to her, she called of a wedding two days before it was meant to happen, she’s working in a job she isn’t particularly good at, and her cat has just died. It’s too much, and she decides she is done. But in the immediate moments after she takes action, she finds herself in a giant library, filled with endless books. And a librarian who teaches her that each book is an alternate life.

So, what happens when you get to glimpse into different versions of your life? What if you’d stuck with piano and became a major star? What if you’d pursued that arts degree instead of the ‘more sensible’ law degree your parents pushed you towards? What if you’d stayed with that perfectly fine girlfriend?

There is so much to absorb in this book, but the overarching theme I’ve taken away from it is that regret isn’t — or doesn’t have to be — something that hangs over us. Sure, there might be some very specific moments of regret in anyone’s life that perhaps might have turned the tides (we all make mistakes), but who is to say that the route you might have gone down would have been any better than the one you chose instead? Moreover, what should we be focusing on in our time here? Is it regret? Is it a search for meaning? Or, at the risk of sounding like a cursive woodcutting purchased on Etsy, should we just focusing on living and loving?

Recommend to a Friend / Keep / Donate it / Toss it:
Recommend to a Friend and Donate it

Saturday

1

January 2022

0

COMMENTS

The Law in 60 Seconds by Christian Weaver

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
Anyone living in England.

In a nutshell:
Barrister Weaver provides the basics of one’s rights in England.

Worth quoting:
“If you buy something on your credit card costing more than £100 and up to £30,000, then the credit card provider is equally as liable as the supplier (seller) if something goes wrong.”

Why I chose it:
Especially in 2020 where there were worldwide protests, my partner and I (who live here on visas) weren’t entire clear what the rules were. We realized we didn’t know what most of the laws here were; this book seemed perfect to help us out.

Review:
What a gem of a book! Author Weaver started doing YouTube videos called ‘The Law in 60 Seconds’ to help him study for his law exams. Those have morphed into this book that is slightly larger than pocket-sized, though definitely could fit into a purse or backpack.

The book starts with a review of human rights, then covers a dozen areas of the law: renting, relationships, shopping, transport, healthcare, money, employment, alcohol and other drugs, the digital world, activism, on the street, and the justice system. It offers tips on what your rights are and what to do when you’re stopped by the police, or if your landlord isn’t making necessary repairs. It goes into detail about employment law, which is extremely helpful. It obviously doesn’t cover every possible scenario, but it touches on all the major ones.

I wish that more of us were encourage to know and understand our rights, In the US, I’ve wished there was a mandatory senior year course that was actual home and life economics. Not just learning to cook and sew (though that’s awesome), but learning about checking accounts, and leases, and such. I’d love to see serious exploration and discussion of rights and responsibilities covered in there as well. Not in at the high level of a traditional civics course, but a really practical level. Like, can you imagine if everyone in the US understood you don’t actually have to talk to the police, and you have a right to an attorney, and also that it’s probably a good idea to have one if you talk to the police? (Also, I learned through this book that in the UK, not talking initially and then talking later can definitely be held against you. Yikes.)

This was published this year, but unfortunately the Tory parliament here is hard at work to repeal the human rights act and implement a horrific limit on protest rights. So I’m thinking an updated version will be needed soon.

Also, can you imagine wanting to repeal HUMAN RIGHTS? Ugh, so vile.

Recommend to a Friend / Keep / Donate it / Toss it:
I’m definitely going to keep this one. And might also pick up copies for friends.