Midlife crises are far from what anyone looks forward to in life, but we often learn the most significant lessons in life’s most challenging seasons. Capturing life’s goodness starts with acceptance, so here are some books to help you handle a midlife crisis, from a job change or children leaving the home to diving into the history of midlife crises.
The Best Books on How to Handle a Midlife Crisis
These guides are for people who are entering midlife and aren’t quite sure how they’re going to handle some of the imminent changes coming their way:
1. Midlife: A Philosophical Guide by Kieran Setiya
Setiya’s book dives into a lot of self-reflection that only aging can provide. It highlights why missing out can be a good thing at times, having a ton of options isn’t always what we need, and how to be grateful for where you are in life. Midlife shares insightful and practical advice to work through the crisis and feel more comfortable living in the present.
2. The Shift: Join The Menopause Revolution by Sam Baker
The Shift: Join the Menopause Revolution, walks readers through all the shifts we’re going to face during a midlife crisis, including menopause, sex, freedom, rage, work, and all the in-betweens to help women write their own midlife journeys. Baker equips women in their midlife to feel a new form of freedom and self-knowledge to share with the world instead of feeling invisible because their youth is running away from them. There’s power in embracing the midlife era if you’re open to discovering them.
3. Midlife, No Crisis: An Audacious Guide to Embracing 50 and Beyond by Lisa Levine
Life and health coach Lisa Levine encourages readers to be arms-open to getting older; it’s just midlife without the crisis. She advises readers to walk with ease into this transformative time in their lives, throwing in scientific studies, actionable advice, and tons of inspiring quotes. Midlife No Crisis is about seeing the glass half full and not half empty; it commends women over 50 for all the life challenges they’ve overcome thus far and helps guide their steps for the years ahead. The book’s goal is to remind women in this space that there is still so much life to live, which is why they should still dream audaciously.
Books on Finding Your Calling Or Changing Career Paths in Midlife
If you’re going through a career change or are unhappy with your current job, these books are for you:
4. Mid-Life Career Rescue: How to confidently leave a job you hate, and start living a life you love, before it’s too late by Cassandra Gaisford
Midlife Career Rescue is doing what the title mentioned—rescuing you from doing a job that no longer serves you to seek a fulfilling job in your midlife era. Career counseling expert, holistic therapist, and author Cassandra Gaisford provides empowering strategies for every career changer or job hunter focused on finding new opportunities. It includes practical tips for creating an appealing resume and boosting your confidence to start the business you’ve always wanted to get off the ground. Successful careers can start after 50 if you’re open to seeing what’s out there that works best for you.
5. Changing Careers After 40: Real Stories, New Callings by Terry Pile and David Lingle
Changing Careers After 40: Real Stories, New Callings provides a unique perspective on changing jobs in midlife and highlights 12 individuals who left their successful careers to start over in a brand new field. This book will assure readers that they aren’t alone in wanting to make a career shift, and that there are plenty of resources to help them to find a new career that is more fulfilling based on their current values. Obstacles will arise at every age in life, so the only thing we have to be open to is change.
6. The Great Mid-Life Career Switch: 15 Important Tips to Help You Change Careers at Half-Time by Gordon Adams
The Great Mid-Life Career Switch reminds us that changing careers at half-time only means we have about 20 more years to work until 70, so it’s essential to have an enjoyable job. As time passes, having one job for life is becoming less and less popular; maybe the shift is not focusing on one job and instead balancing a few part-time jobs that give you more purpose. Adams encourages readers to lead with an open mind to the possibilities to come.
Memoirs & Novels About Midlife Crises
It can be really helpful to know that others have been through similar experiences and have found success and purpose. These memoirs can help inspire you to find meaning in midlife:
7. Waking Up in Winter: In Search of What Really Matters at Midlife by Cheryl Richardson
New York Times best-selling author and worldwide empowering coach Cheryl Richardson guides readers through reevaluating her life to reveal what really mattered to her in midlife. Waking Up in Winter reveals Richardson’s intimate journal entries, her reexamination of work, her marriage, priorities, and other close relationships. This book encourages us to thoroughly examine the path that we’re on when we feel unfulfilled in midlife, and to shed what no longer serves us.
8. I’ll Show Myself Out: Essays On Midlife And Motherhood by: Jessi Klein
If you’re looking for a good laugh about motherhood and midlife, Klein’s memoir is for you. Emmy award-winning writer and New York Times bestselling author takes us through cultural myths, motherhood expectations, humiliations, and possibilities of midlife. Klein uses interconnected essays, titled “Your Husband will Remarry Five Minutes After You Die” and “Eulogy For My Feet” to examine midlife’s bittersweetness and blissful moments.
9. Midlife Bites: Anyone Else Falling Apart, Or Is It Just Me? by Jen Mann
After award-winning blogger and best-selling author Jen Mann made her now-viral post, “Anyone Else Falling Apart Or Is It Just Me ?” The feedback was flooding the comments section and women from all parts of the country had tons to say, and it started the “Midlife Bites” movement. Mann’s movement created a community for middle-aged women to navigate through this pivotal point in their lives, and is continued in this collection of essays on sex after forty, raging hormones, learning to make new friends, and finding your purpose.
Books on the History of Midlife Crises
Sometimes knowing the history of common societal norms can help us reimagine how we can live through them. Here are books outlining and analyzing how the “midlife crisis” became what it is today:
10. Broken Dreams: An Intimate History of the Midlife Crisis by Mark Jackson
Broken Dreams: An Intimate History of the Midlife Crisis provides a thorough analysis of cultural and social conditions in middle-aged men and women as they begin to reevaluate their life desires and seek renewed forms of identity and self-contentment. Jackson pulls from medical, media, literary, and cinematic sources to show the different shifts of increased life expectancy, rising individualism, shifting societal patterns, and family structures in middle-aged individuals.
11. This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism by Ashton Applewhite
This Chair Rocks examines the history of ageism and how our own age denial impairs us as we age. Aging stereotypes and myths hinders our brain and body function. Applewhite explores ageism in every aspect of life from the bedroom to the workplace, and critiques the portrayal of older people being a burden to society. It should be a privilege to age, not something to be ashamed of. This book is humorous yet demands a radical mindset shift to taking pride in aging.
12. Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife by Barbara Bradley Hagerty
It turns out there may not be a midlife crisis, according to Bradley Hagerty; she says it’s an illusion, and that readers should reimagine midlife to be open to new possibilities, pleasures, and purposes. She amplifies the ideology of midlife as an opportunity to transform the way we see ourselves and the world. Life Reimagined has resourceful information from psychology, neurology, biology, genetics, and sociology sources, along with her own journey of midlife transformation.
Getting Help for a Midlife Crisis
Although these books can be beneficial for the middle-aged journey, they’re not a replacement for professional help. If you’re struggling, find the therapist that is best for you instead of suffering in silence. Ask your primary care physician or a trusted loved one for a referral, or use an online therapist directory where you can sort by specialty (like life transitions) and insurance coverage.