Cary's Shelf: Owning Your Mid-Life

Published Thursday, November 3, 2022

The Good, the Bad, and the Lovely

"The Midlife Crisis was 'invented' in London in 1957, when Canadian psychoanalyst, Elliott Jaques stood before a meeting of the British Psycho-Analytical Society and read aloud from a paper he’d written. Jaques claimed that people in [mid-life] typically experienced a depressive period lasting several years . . . symptoms could include religious awakenings, promiscuity, a sudden inability to enjoy life, 'hypochondriacal concern over health and appearance,' and 'compulsive attempts' to remain young." - The Atlantic

Conversely, there is a well-known, anonymous quote, "Don't regret growing older, it is a privilege denied to many." Since I doubt I'll make it to 100, even though I'd love to (in decent health, of course), I am considered well into my mid-life phase, and I've had many "thoughts and feelings" about this state of my life, both good and challenging. I'm featuring a few books here that may inspire anyone who is striving, searching, questioning or coasting after fifty. The Library has many more titles to choose from, as well as related books on health, exercise and job searching. Enjoy!

ROAR into the second half of your life (before it's too late), by Michael Clinton

Clinton suggests a dynamic process called ROAR: Reimagine / Own / Act / Reassess. Practical, actionable and inspiring, ROAR encourages us to be proactive by making our life what we want right now, rather than waiting for an outside force to radically change our personal or work life.

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Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, by James Hollis

Psychoanalyst James Hollis believes it is only in the second half of life that we can truly come to know who we are and create a life that has meaning. Hollis explores ways we can grow and evolve when the traditional roles of adulthood aren’t quite working for us. Anyone facing a career that no longer seems fulfilling, a long-term relationship that has shifted, or family transitions that raise issues of aging and mortality, Hollis provides a crucial bridge across this vital passage of our lives.

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From Strength to Strength, by Arthur C. Brooks

For goal-oriented, purpose-driven type A's out there, this book might just be the ticket for transferring your drive to new ventures at mid-life. At the height of his career, at the age of 50, bestselling author, Harvard professor, and the Atlantic's happiness columnist Arthur Brooks began a seven-year journey to discover a roadmap for finding purpose, meaning, and success as we age. Many of us assume that the more successful we are, the less susceptible we become to the sense of professional and social irrelevance that often accompanies aging. But the truth is, the greater our achievements and our attachment to them, the more we notice our decline, and the more painful it is when it occurs. What can we do, starting now, to make our older years a time of happiness, purpose, and yes, success?

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Waking up in Winter: In Search of What Really Matters at Midlife, by Cheryl Richardson

"Internationally recognized coach and New York Times bestselling author Cheryl Richardson has toured the world empowering others to make lasting change. But when Richardson’s own life no longer worked as it once had, a persistent, inner voice offered unmistakable guidance: it was time to reevaluate her life to uncover what really mattered. Waking Up in Winter is the candid and revelatory account of how at midlife, Richardson found renewed contentment and purpose through her inward journey. Told through intimate journal entries, from the first, gentle nudges of change to a thoughtfully reimagined life – a soulful, spring awakening." - the publisher

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About the Author

Cary is our Development & Outreach Librarian. Her idea of a perfect day is a complete stereotype: reading or watching British crime fiction with a cup of hot tea close at hand, her favorite quilt, and her cats Clio & Junie on her lap.