It happens to the best of us. That nagging feeling, as we enter our fifth or sixth decade (sometimes earlier), that maybe we haven't become everything we could have become.
Though "midlife crisis" may make you think of people cheating on their longtime spouses, riding around town in sports cars, or suddenly becoming preoccupied with their bodies -- some good can actually come out of the emotional upheaval. We prefer the term "midlife transition." Contrary to popular belief, it doesn't have to be all about rash decisions or quitting your job. It can be a chance to set a new goal or evaluate what's really meaningful in life, or to let go of something that's been holding you back.
Here are some great reads to get you inspired:
This one's for the ladies. Quindlen take us through the journey of a woman's life -- everything from childhood to the joys and challenges of motherhood right up through midlife. The book beautifully captures the uniqueness of the female experience and the richness of womens' relationships, with one another and within the family. Marriage, children and self -- this book covers it all.
Booklist calls it “[A] pithy, get-real memoir.”
You might have seen the movie starring Diane Lane, but the Frances Mayes memoir it was based on may be even better. The book chronicles the many challenges and delights of moving halfway across the globe and settling into a new culture. It also captures Mayes' real-life adventures as she purchases a run-down villa in Tuscany and seeks to renovate it, all while developing a greater appreciation for slowing down to enjoy life's simple pleasures. A must-read for anyone itching to travel. Plus, the book is peppered with wonderful recipes Mayes picked up along the way.
USA Today calls it a "beautifully written memoir about taking chances, living in Italy. loving a house and, always, the pleasures of food, [that] would make a perfect gift for a loved one. But it's so delicious, read it first yourself."
Tom Wolfe's novel grapples with the sleazy world of the rich and powerful in this story of a wealthy New Yorker carrying on an affair with a younger woman, who then gets into a situation that could cost him everything. The book touches on infidelity, greed, the struggle for power and, as the title suggests, vanity. It illustrates how no one's life is perfect.
The New York Times says the book is "Fast as it is -- like falling downstairs, sometimes -- the pace is superb, and the action, twists of plot, comic setups and jumps from track to track always occur at just the right times."
You may have seen the movie version, but the book delves even deeper into Elizabeth Gilbert's personal journey to leave behind the life she had worked so hard to build in order to find what it was she wanted for herself -- not just what society told her she ought to have. The book chronicles her travels across beautiful India, Italy and Bali -- each place with its own distinct and vibrant culture -- and what she learns about herself (and life) along the way. If you haven't seen the movie, read the book first. From finding your spirituality, loving your body and forgiving yourself, this book is all about nourishing your soul.
Booklist says "As Gilbert switches from gelato to kundalini Shakti to herbal cures Balinese-style, she ponders the many paths to divinity, the true nature of happiness, and the boon of good-hearted, sexy love. Gilbert's sensuous and audacious spiritual odyssey is as deeply pleasurable as it is enlightening."
Men -- this one's for you. Featuring a male protagonist, this book centers around the life of Frank Bascombe, a middle-aged man feeling directionless and depleted. Bascombe deals with loss, overcoming grief, marital troubles and feeling as if he's stuck on autopilot as he goes through the motions.
Amazon.com says "It's hard to imagine a book illuminating the texture of everyday life more brilliantly, or capturing the truth of human emotions more honestly."
Huff/Post 50 blogger Pamela Madsen's book details her search for sexual rediscovery within her marriage in midlife. Married to her longtime sweetheart, Madsen found herself both yearning for sexual growth and longing to keep her marriage intact. She touches on her experiences with sexual healers as she seeks to improve her body image and love herself fully.
Kirkus Reviews says "The edgy quirkiness of the story, combined with the author’s honesty and character-saving ability to laugh at herself, make the book an engaging read ... bold and surprisingly moving."
Nick Hornby's hit novel focuses on the life and lifestyle of Will, a lothario in his late 30s, who is content with his thoroughly simple, single life, until it becomes complicated as he somewhat-reluctantly befriends a school-aged boy. Will doesn't realize how empty his life was, until he finds himself entangled in the boy's life, resulting in a touching coming-of-age tale for both man and boy.
Vogue calls it "An utterly charming, picaresque tale of an older guy, a young kid, and the funky, dysfunctional real-life ties that bind -- and unbind."
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