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7 Books So Powerful They Can Change Your Midlife

5 min read

With thousands of books published every week, sometimes it’s difficult for many of us to decide which one to pick up. That’s especially true when we’re looking for the one that might help us to navigate the highs and lows of midlife.

Whether you browse bestseller lists, click around Goodreads, Amazon and Instagram, or ask friends for their recommendations, picking out the right book to read might be challenging and a common concern for many of us. And even when many libraries offer free access to a website called NoveList, a database of expert recommendations based on all sorts of appeals,  it happens we’re often not sure what to buy especially when it’s the case of self-help books. 

Of course, we can’t ask them to solve all of our problems but some publications can really open our eyes. We’ve compiled a list of 7 great bestsellers you won’t be able to put down and that can change your approach to ageing. 

“Midlife: A Philosophical Guide” by Kieran Setiya

In this self-help book with a difference, Kieran Setiya confronts the inevitable challenges of adulthood and middle age, showing how philosophy can help you thrive.

You will learn why missing out might be a good thing, how options are overrated, and when you should be glad you made a mistake. You will be introduced to philosophical consolations for mortality. And you will learn what it would mean to live in the present, how it could solve your midlife crisis, and why meditation helps. Ranging from Aristotle, Schopenhauer, and John Stuart Mill to Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir, as well as drawing on Setiya’s own experience, “Midlife” combines imaginative ideas, surprising insights, and practical advice. Writing with wisdom and wit, Setiya makes a wry but passionate case for philosophy as a guide to life.

“In Our Prime: The Invention of Middle Age” by Patricia Cohen

For the first time ever, the middle aged make up the biggest, richest, and most influential segment of the country, yet the history of middle age has remained largely untold. This important and immensely readable book finally fills the gap. “In Our Primeis a biography of the idea of the middle age from its invention in the late nineteenth century to its current place at the centre of American society, where it shapes the way we view our families, our professional obligations, and our inner lives.

The New York Times reporter Patricia Cohen ranges over the entire landscape of midlife, exploring how its biological, psychological, and social definitions have shifted from one generation to the next. Middle age has been a symbol both of decline and of power and wealth. Explaining why Cohen takes readers from early-twentieth-century factories that refused to hire middle-aged men to twenty-first-century high-tech laboratories where researchers are currently conducting cutting-edge experiments on the middle-aged brain and body.

“In Midlife” by Murray Stein 

What better than a Jungian handbook for midlife? Drawing on analytic experience, dreams, and myths, Murray Stein, a well-known analyst, formulates the three main features of the middle passage.

First an erosion of attachments. Then hints of a fresh spirit, renegade and mischievous, that scoffs at routines. This new spirit disrupts life and alarms family and friends. Finally, with luck, a transformation occurs; life begins again.

Midlife transformation is not for the weak of heart or soul“, he writes. “But for those who venture into and through it, it becomes, as it did for Jung, the source of everything to come by way of the creative expression of thought, feeling, and personality into and through old age“.

“The Shift: Join The Menopause Revolution” by Sam Baker

Women over forty are the most ignored demographic in society. And yet this is the time when you are likely to have the most freedom, power, confidence and self-knowledge than ever before. So what now? Including chapters on menopause, sex, culture, work, rage and freedom, journalist and podcaster Sam Baker shares her experiences of life post-40 and shows how women can create their own personal story. With its intimate tone, honesty and humour, “The Shift” sits comfortably within the “menopause memoir” genre.

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“The XX Brain” by Dr Lisa Mosconi 

In this revolutionary book, Dr Lisa Mosconi PhD, director of the Women’s Brain Initiative at Weill Cornell Medical College, provides women with the first plan to address the unique risks of the female brain.

Taking on all aspects of women’s health, including brain fog, memory lapses, depression, stress, insomnia, hormonal imbalances, and the increased risk of dementia, Dr Mosconi introduces cutting-edge, evidence-based approaches to protecting the female brain, including a specific diet proven to work for women, strategies to reduce stress, and useful tips for restorative sleep. She also examines the controversy about soy and hormonal replacement therapy, takes on the perils of environmental toxins, and examines the role of our microbiome. Perhaps best of all, she makes clear that it is never too late to take care of yourself.

The XX Brain” is a rallying cry for women to have full access to information regarding what is going on in their brains and bodies as well as a roadmap for the path to optimal, lifelong brain health.

“This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism” by Ashton Applewhite

Lively, funny, and deeply researched, This Chair Rocks traces Applewhite’s journey from apprehensive boomer to pro-ageing radical, and in the process debunks myth after myth about late life.

The book explains the roots of ageism in history and in our own age denial and how it divides and debases, examines how ageist myths and stereotypes cripple the way our brains and bodies function, looks at ageism in the workplace and the bedroom, exposes the cost of the all-American myth of independence, critiques the portrayal of older people as burdens to society, describes what an all-age-friendly world would look like, and concludes with a rousing call to action.

Whether you’re older or hoping to get there, this book will shake you by the shoulders, cheer you up, make you mad, and change the way you see the rest of your life. Age pride!

“Untamed” by Glennon Doyle

There is a voice of longing inside each woman. We strive so mightily to be good: good partners, daughters, mothers, employees, and friends. We hope all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed. We look at our lives and wonder: Wasn’t it all supposed to be more beautiful than this?

Part inspiration, part memoir, “Untamed” explores the joy and peace we discover when we stop striving to meet the expectations of the world and instead dare to listen to and trust in the voice deep inside us. From the beloved New York Times bestselling author, speaker and activist Glennon Doyle.

Whatever book you’ll choose, just remember that when life gets too challenging and problems arise one after the other one, some publications can really be that little light in the darkness. They push you, motivate you and inspire you to do more in a better way. They expand your worldview and introduce you to fellows who have lived through your struggle and achieved the impossible.

Keep reading, you will feel less lonely when a personal midlife crisis comes.

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