Five on a theme: the choices we make

I had a conversation recently with some of my colleagues about our college experiences, sharing how our initial plans for majors and careers changed in the realities of adult life, and the things we can’t believe we didn’t know when making potentially life-altering choices. More than once, someone said “if I could make the choice over again…” It’s always a mixed consideration – for everything you might want to change, there are other things you’d hate to lose. Where’s the point of balance for finding the best choice? What would changing our past choices really mean for us, and for others?

Fiction loves these questions – think of movies like Groundhog DaySliding Doors, or Deja Vu – and there are plenty of books that tackle the idea. Here are five on the theme of our choices and their impacts.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, translated by Geoffrey Trousselot. Four people visit a Tokyo coffee shop that lets customers travel back in time, and each reevaluates formative moments in their lives.

The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Susan Bernofsky. One girl’s possible lives take her through the enormous changes of 20th century Europe.

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai. The world we know is the dystopian version, and Tom grew up in the version that should have been. At least, that’s how it seems. When Tom finds himself in our reality, he is forced to consider what the best outcome could mean.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. Between life and death, Nora is given the opportunity to read her own story – and the books that contain all the versions of her story that could have come from different choices.

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson. Cara has the fortune, or misfortune, of being dead in more than 370 worlds – which means she can travel to those worlds and gather data for her own. Already an outsider, Cara’s discoveries about the other worlds, and her other selves, threaten the entire multiverse.

Read one or more of these already? Use NoveList Plus to search for readalikes, or ask us to help you choose your next read.

Photo by George Bakos on Unsplash

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