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Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife

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A dynamic and inspiring exploration of the new science that is redrawing the future for people in their forties, fifties, and sixties for the better—and for good. There’s no such thing as an inevitable midlife crisis, Barbara Bradley Hagerty writes in this provocative, hopeful book. It’s a myth, an illusion. New scientific research explodes the fable that midlife is a time A dynamic and inspiring exploration of the new science that is redrawing the future for people in their forties, fifties, and sixties for the better—and for good. There’s no such thing as an inevitable midlife crisis, Barbara Bradley Hagerty writes in this provocative, hopeful book. It’s a myth, an illusion. New scientific research explodes the fable that midlife is a time when things start to go downhill for everybody. In fact, midlife can be a great new adventure, when you can embrace fresh possibilities, purposes, and pleasures. In Life Reimagined, Hagerty explains that midlife is about renewal: It’s the time to renegotiate your purpose, refocus your relationships, and transform the way you think about the world and yourself. Drawing from emerging information in neurology, psychology, biology, genetics, and sociology—as well as her own story of midlife transformation—Hagerty redraws the map for people in midlife and plots a new course forward in understanding our health, our relationships, even our futures.


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A dynamic and inspiring exploration of the new science that is redrawing the future for people in their forties, fifties, and sixties for the better—and for good. There’s no such thing as an inevitable midlife crisis, Barbara Bradley Hagerty writes in this provocative, hopeful book. It’s a myth, an illusion. New scientific research explodes the fable that midlife is a time A dynamic and inspiring exploration of the new science that is redrawing the future for people in their forties, fifties, and sixties for the better—and for good. There’s no such thing as an inevitable midlife crisis, Barbara Bradley Hagerty writes in this provocative, hopeful book. It’s a myth, an illusion. New scientific research explodes the fable that midlife is a time when things start to go downhill for everybody. In fact, midlife can be a great new adventure, when you can embrace fresh possibilities, purposes, and pleasures. In Life Reimagined, Hagerty explains that midlife is about renewal: It’s the time to renegotiate your purpose, refocus your relationships, and transform the way you think about the world and yourself. Drawing from emerging information in neurology, psychology, biology, genetics, and sociology—as well as her own story of midlife transformation—Hagerty redraws the map for people in midlife and plots a new course forward in understanding our health, our relationships, even our futures.

30 review for Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tonya

    Ok - I found large portions of this book to be tedious and unnecessary. I'd have cut 150+ pages out of it. I particularly found the author's "path" through mid-life to be a bit much. The set up is that each chapter discusses one mid-life issue and then the author (at least partially) looks at how she dealt with/deals with that issue. Let me be clear: I could not find one fuck to give about Ms. Hagerty's intense angst and physical set backs while she trained for the 'senior olympics' bike race (s Ok - I found large portions of this book to be tedious and unnecessary. I'd have cut 150+ pages out of it. I particularly found the author's "path" through mid-life to be a bit much. The set up is that each chapter discusses one mid-life issue and then the author (at least partially) looks at how she dealt with/deals with that issue. Let me be clear: I could not find one fuck to give about Ms. Hagerty's intense angst and physical set backs while she trained for the 'senior olympics' bike race (she was 42). Some of the other stuff was fine. The stories about her 92 year old mother filled me with hope and happiness and made me wish I could know her. The chapter about her brother's (a very rich and powerful news publisher) attempts to financially assist the rescue of captured journalists in the Middle East - it may have been super terrific - but in the context of this book - again I had no fucks to give. I started out skimming and then basically skipped that chapter. It just seemed incredibly self-indulgent to me. On the other hand, I found much of value and many, many helpful insights. She interviewed many, many interesting sociologists, psychologists, researchers, etc. to try to winkle out what makes a happy, meaningful, gratifying life. And I will tell you folks- it boils down to this. SPOILER ALERT: Happiness is Love. Full Stop. So finally - worth reading - but my advice is to do what I did and be your own editor.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kater Cheek

    I would have put three stars, because I only "liked" this book, but I had to give a bonus to something so meticulously researched and deftly told. Then again, what else would you expect from an NPR reporter except exceptional journalism? Hagerty is in her fifties, and has a lifelong dedication to education, intellectual development, and accomplishment. She combines research about what happens to the brain and body at middle age with personal stories collected from listeners who responded on her f I would have put three stars, because I only "liked" this book, but I had to give a bonus to something so meticulously researched and deftly told. Then again, what else would you expect from an NPR reporter except exceptional journalism? Hagerty is in her fifties, and has a lifelong dedication to education, intellectual development, and accomplishment. She combines research about what happens to the brain and body at middle age with personal stories collected from listeners who responded on her facebook page. I felt as though most of her interviewees were baby boomers, even though Gen Xers are now also middle aged. The question Hagerty returns to again and again is "how do I slow or stop mental decline?" She relays interesting research into Alzheimer's; apparently just having the physiological symptoms of Alzheimer's doesn't mean that person will have mental degeneration. A woman whose autopsy showed a brain that had the Swiss cheese degradation of Alzheimer's was sharp and witty up until the day she died. (Spoiler: learning new things helps, but nothing beats aerobic exercise for slowing brain degeneration.) I don't particularly like the idea of getting feeble minded in my dotage, but brain degeneration doesn't make me as worried as the idea of losing vision and mobility, two things Hagerty doesn't really touch on. This book isn't so much a "how to do midlife" for everyone as it is a "how Barbara Bradley Hagerty approaches midlife." Her values are slightly different from mine. For example, Hagerty didn't have children of her own, so she has nothing to add about how parenting changes a person in middle age. She talks about shifting careers, when women who stayed home or dialed back their careers to raise children would just be starting their career in midlife, not changing to a new one. Her obsession with education and accomplishment started to feel a lot like snobbery after a while. If she interviewed someone with a PhD, she mentioned the PhD. If someone went to an ivy league school (and most of the interviewees did) she mentioned it. I went to college. I did great at college, but to think I'd be identified by it decades later seems a little weird and off-putting, especially if I went to a (gasp!) affordable state school. It's like Japanese television where they put everyone's age up on the screen. True information, yes, but it seems an odd thing to share with everyone. Most of her interviewees also have high powered, high profile, fiercely competitive careers, so I felt that weird disconnect like I do when I read medium articles about millennials who moan that they're only making $55K right out of college and can't afford the Brooklyn apartment they want. The problem is not that they're poor, the problem is that they don't have enough life experience to know what poverty really is. You can only feel sorry for baby boomers who were downgraded to working at Starbucks or Land's End if you are completely blind to the fact that most Americans consider those pretty good jobs and would be glad to get them. And the fact that she doesn't talk about parenting very much also makes it not as relevant to most people. It's like a vegan cookbook; while it's a valid choice, it's missing what most people consider hugely crucial ingredients. I'd suggest approaching this book not as an end-all-be-all description of an under-researched topic, but more as a memoir from a brilliant baby boomer journalist as she navigates the third trimester of life.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shirley Showalter

    This book will be my go-to text for social science research on aging. I'm an educator interested in how vocation continues into the third act of life. I'm also a writer used to studying my own life through the texts of other lives, so I appreciated the memoir embedded in this book. The story begins with the author's mid-life health scare that coincided with the death of her father. Nothing like death to make real the subject of aging! As readers continue, we go on a journey with the author throug This book will be my go-to text for social science research on aging. I'm an educator interested in how vocation continues into the third act of life. I'm also a writer used to studying my own life through the texts of other lives, so I appreciated the memoir embedded in this book. The story begins with the author's mid-life health scare that coincided with the death of her father. Nothing like death to make real the subject of aging! As readers continue, we go on a journey with the author through a year's leave from her job as a reporter for NPR to write this book. We recognize her ambition to test herself physically and mentally. We hope she will also reveal her inner thoughts and allow us to see her struggles and fears. I have the sense that she revealed more, especially about her friendships and family, than she intended at the beginning. In my opinion, these glimpses into her doubts and difficulties make the book more than a snapshot of current research. They show us a culture in transition in the midst of an aging revolution and the possible impact of change on individual lives. Each chapter of the book takes up a new subject (midlife crisis, memory, friendship, brain science, marriage, purpose, resilience, generativity, and meaning). The best and most recent research on each topic comes wrapped in a package of glimpses into the author's year when highlights and lowlights relevant to the topic are explored. The structure does much of this work. By choosing months to go along with themes and using dates as a way to indicate that we will be entering the embedded memoir, the author can escape the "dry literature review" peril and make the book seem like an adventure rather than a graduate seminar. A final note. Humor is one of the author's best strengths. She took an Authentic Happiness test online that proved it. :-) But she also proves it in every chapter. I leave smiley faces in the margins of books (yes, I'm a marker upper), and this one gets a lot of them. Reading other reviews here, listening to 2016 election news, and seeing similar comments about class bias in other books about aging makes me think that there is another book to write about those with less privilege. Is there a great and largely invisible majority being "left behind" as others more wealthy pursue their passions in the third act? Since BBH used her year to decide the time was right to leave NPR and since she is so good at interviewing people, perhaps this is a next book? Or at least a follow-up essay?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    I’ve been reading quite a few of these midlife crises books, more to figure out where mine disappeared to, and I find this is, well, another one. This “Life Reimagined” was quite well written and had interesting research described, but meandered around the topic and drilled down into quite a lot of indulgent personal story writing about the author, her job, and her families’ doings. Did you know the author was an NPR reporter? You will by the time you finish – she repeats this dozens of times so I’ve been reading quite a few of these midlife crises books, more to figure out where mine disappeared to, and I find this is, well, another one. This “Life Reimagined” was quite well written and had interesting research described, but meandered around the topic and drilled down into quite a lot of indulgent personal story writing about the author, her job, and her families’ doings. Did you know the author was an NPR reporter? You will by the time you finish – she repeats this dozens of times so you won’t forget. In comparison to other books of its ilk, this included some interesting research that I hadn’t seen before, but required wading through personal stories that were extremely indulgent, at times smug, and often didn’t really match the topic. (The smugness popped up while bragging about being married for the first time at age 43, if I recall correctly.) I would read more by this author, but with more skimming.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Stacey Marien

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Hagerty is an engaging writer and I was eager to keep reading to find out what would happen with her various stories. This is an optimistic book about entering midlife and reaffirms some things that I personally have started to do - planning the activities I will do in my encore career.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gail

    Barbara Bradley Hagerty defines being middle-aged as being between the ages of 40-65. Falling somewhere in between those parameters, I was intrigued to find out more about what she means by midlife renewal as opposed to the ubiquitous term “midlife crisis”. Delving into the well-categorized chapters on learning new things, importance of friendships, marriage, memory loss, finding a purpose in life, altruism, and second careers, I bookmarked so many pages that I might do better just re-reading it! Barbara Bradley Hagerty defines being middle-aged as being between the ages of 40-65. Falling somewhere in between those parameters, I was intrigued to find out more about what she means by midlife renewal as opposed to the ubiquitous term “midlife crisis”. Delving into the well-categorized chapters on learning new things, importance of friendships, marriage, memory loss, finding a purpose in life, altruism, and second careers, I bookmarked so many pages that I might do better just re-reading it! There is hope for us mid-lifers yet! Midlife renewal involves taking a hard look at your situation in life and understanding what brings you happiness and fulfillment. Hagerty states,”This is a time when you shift gears…the moment can be exhilarating rather than terrifying, informed by the experiences of your past and shaped by the promise of your future.” Now that people are living well beyond retirement age, decisions that are made today affect the rest of your life. In order to live richly in one’s middle years, three themes seem to dominate, according to Hagerty. They are: Engage with verve — in your relationships, your continued education, your career, and in everything you do. Doing this will bring you satisfaction and joy. This engagement with the world fosters social networks and a feeling of being “generative” — helping perpetuate future generations with aid and nurturing. Choose purpose over happiness — pursuing long term goals over short term happiness gives meaning to life. Pay attention to your thoughts and attitudes — they can shape how you experience the world. Brain games, you may have heard, are good for the aging mind. Keep your mind sharp by doing crosswords, Sudoku and fun little games on your smart phones we’re told. This effort to exercise the mind, to employ “fluid intelligence” is important, but so is novelty. New mental challenges, such as learning a new activity that taps both working memory and long term memory, have been shown to boost cognition in the elderly, staving off dementia, more so than just a procedural task. People with a purpose in life, that find each day meaningful, have been found less likely to develop dementia or cognitive decline, even when their autopsies show the pathology of having Alzheimer's. So find a new passion or hobby early on, to carry you through your senior years. Novelty also seems to keep long term marriages alive, a concern in middle age when so many marriages break up. The brain rewards novel activity (we’re talking new experiences such as a cultural event, a sport or creative pursuit in case you were wondering!) with a little “dopamine-driven reward”. So explore that new museum together, or hike that trail you’ve never explored. Resilience: the ability to regulate one’s response to fear. Hagerty explains that we all have ways to handle fear and difficult situations, whether it’s a natural optimism, the support of friends and family or just one’s own resourcefulness. Finding meaning in adversity and maintaining a positive mental attitude allows for better health and longer life, according to numerous studies. There are still a number of yellow stickies pasted in this book, marking passages that I didn’t get to in this review. So I suggest if you’re wondering about how to seize the best opportunities of midlife and are looking for an interesting read, pick up this award-winning NPR journalist’s book, “Life Reimagined, the Science, Art and Opportunity of Midlife”

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    There are some good factoids, like the U-shaped happiness curve, but overall the title was misleading as this was too much of an oversharing personal memoir for my tastes. The science is pretty light. For example, she establishes early on that pathological findings of Alzheimer's in the brains of dead people don't really correlate well with their degree of dementia. This is an extremely important point. The lesson is to pay attention to practical functionality, not to lab tests. But then the res There are some good factoids, like the U-shaped happiness curve, but overall the title was misleading as this was too much of an oversharing personal memoir for my tastes. The science is pretty light. For example, she establishes early on that pathological findings of Alzheimer's in the brains of dead people don't really correlate well with their degree of dementia. This is an extremely important point. The lesson is to pay attention to practical functionality, not to lab tests. But then the rest of the book is obsessed with brain scans (Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience. P.S. Got this free from the library.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    Such timely and practical insights. Makes this aging thing seem OK!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    Excellent book, all the stuff I've been thinking about. Was a bit worried that her faith would get in the way of my enjoyment of this book, but it turned out to be fine. Here's what I want to remember about this book: How to change catastrophic thinking: 1. describe the event 2. capture the worst case scenario 3. generate the best case scenario 4. identify the most likely outcome 5. develop a plan Check out the University of Pennsylvania's Authentic Happiness website for top 5 strengths. Every idea in t Excellent book, all the stuff I've been thinking about. Was a bit worried that her faith would get in the way of my enjoyment of this book, but it turned out to be fine. Here's what I want to remember about this book: How to change catastrophic thinking: 1. describe the event 2. capture the worst case scenario 3. generate the best case scenario 4. identify the most likely outcome 5. develop a plan Check out the University of Pennsylvania's Authentic Happiness website for top 5 strengths. Every idea in this book runs against our natural tendency to want to relax, take it easy, reward ourselves for decades of work and child rearing. Our default mode at midlife is entropy. But default is not destiny, on this, the research in unequivocal.: for every fork in the road, you are almost invariably better off making the harder choice. Harder in the moment, that is, but easier over the years, as your body and mind remain strong. By resisting entropy, by pushing through the inertia that beckons us to rest a little longer, to slow down just a notch, until your life has narrowed to a pinprick - by resisting those forces, you dramatically up the odds that your life will be rich to your final breath, deeply entwined with family and friends, engaged in intellectual pursuits, and infused with a purpose that extends beyond yourself. Yes it's hard. Yes, it's worth it. (p.356) - If you feel the midlife blues, remember that everyone else does too, and your most joyous years are ahead of you. - Aim for meaning and not happiness, and you will find both. - Ask yourself regularly: how will I use these glorious days for the best purpose? - The middle-aged brain is a thing of wonder. It can learn any new trick, if you challenge it. - At every stage of life, you should be a rookie at something. - Midlife can be like [the Prairies], long and flat. Creating a goal will energize your days. - It’s harder to hurt when you are laughing. - Take trouble in stride: a few setbacks are just what the doctor ordered. - Watch your thoughts: your thinking shapes your experience. - If possible, go with Plan A, and it’s possible more often than not. - Pivoting on your strengths beats starting from scratch. - Redefine success according to your values, not those of the rest of the world - Pay attention: the biggest threat to seasoned relationships is mutual neglect - Do you value that relationship? If so, then cut them some slack. - It’s dangerous at the periphery

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brianna Klein

    Unfortunately, this book just didn't do it for me. I feel like it had a lot of potential but I think this book would be better off being broken down by its chapters and being featured a monthly article in some women's magazine. Its very pop-esque (which isn't always a bad thing), but the book is inundated with the author's opinion and how it relates to her mid-life crisis which was kind of why she wrote it in the first place. The author's voice is very lackadaisical with a fact/study thrown in h Unfortunately, this book just didn't do it for me. I feel like it had a lot of potential but I think this book would be better off being broken down by its chapters and being featured a monthly article in some women's magazine. Its very pop-esque (which isn't always a bad thing), but the book is inundated with the author's opinion and how it relates to her mid-life crisis which was kind of why she wrote it in the first place. The author's voice is very lackadaisical with a fact/study thrown in here and there wherever it seems to fit. I know, I know, I'm not near mid-life at all, but I enjoy reading about people overcoming their personal struggles. Also, Western culture places a huge emphasis on youth, vibrancy, and vitality and simply glosses over wisdom, which I think should have more, or at least equal, significance. And honestly, what person my age doesn't worry periodically about when their youth will be lost [this is me being a hypocrite - I never said I had my life figured out :)]? Will it be 30? 40? There are still people who look great at that age, will I? Why am I only thinking about looks? Good thing I'm thinking about this now rather than later. Why am I being superficial? And on and on those questions go. Okay, maybe most people don't worry about that, but I'm not one of those people. Anyways, not for me. I like hard facts, experiments, innovation, explorations, the occasional anecdote (there are a lot in this book) and since I'm a millennial (hah), I follow the stereotype of always seeking fast, new and exciting information. Ive started meditating as an attempt to counteract that. What I read I feel like I could have guessed or already knew.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Gloria

    Life Reimagined provides an in-depth examination of the quality of life in one's 40s, 50s, and 60s. How people find meaning, create resilience, reignite a stale marriage, and so much more is covered in both a scientific manner and with personal anecdotes. The author is a reporter for NPR and formerly for the Christian Science Monitor and thus brings her skills as a journalist to this topic. Her typical approach to a topic is to tell a short story of her own life and then broaden it out to how the Life Reimagined provides an in-depth examination of the quality of life in one's 40s, 50s, and 60s. How people find meaning, create resilience, reignite a stale marriage, and so much more is covered in both a scientific manner and with personal anecdotes. The author is a reporter for NPR and formerly for the Christian Science Monitor and thus brings her skills as a journalist to this topic. Her typical approach to a topic is to tell a short story of her own life and then broaden it out to how the scientific community sees the issue. At times it seemed she was telling a bit too much of her own story and along with it a few conclusions about an issue that had no scientific verification. Overall, this is a mainly upbeat and hopeful perspective that encourages readers to listen to their own needs and pursue their own interests and values.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Thurston Hunger

    Found a condensed version of this book in a little magazine her brother happens to own : https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/... I enjoyed some of the science insights, and her access to experts in various fields. As other reviewers here have noted, the book itself progressively becomes more of a memoir, which is not always a bad thing. Just a bit different from where the book launched for me. There's also a self-help vibe that sort of springs forth in the latter half, so consider that a warning Found a condensed version of this book in a little magazine her brother happens to own : https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/... I enjoyed some of the science insights, and her access to experts in various fields. As other reviewers here have noted, the book itself progressively becomes more of a memoir, which is not always a bad thing. Just a bit different from where the book launched for me. There's also a self-help vibe that sort of springs forth in the latter half, so consider that a warning or perhaps a promise depending on what you are looking for. She addresses a lot of the issues, personal and professional, that like an AARP subscription, cannot be avoided at a certain point in one's life.

  13. 5 out of 5

    El

    If I could edit out the author, this book would be much more powerful to me. Instead, it falls much more in the memoir category, less in the social science category. So, sure, if one could somehow edit out the oft-repeated "baby boomer," "NPR" and the author's class blindness (wherein she goes to a casino! during the weekday! and is! Surprised! by its patrons!) then the science behind this book would shine bright and loud and universal. Sigh. This is a pity, because there is a lot of great scien If I could edit out the author, this book would be much more powerful to me. Instead, it falls much more in the memoir category, less in the social science category. So, sure, if one could somehow edit out the oft-repeated "baby boomer," "NPR" and the author's class blindness (wherein she goes to a casino! during the weekday! and is! Surprised! by its patrons!) then the science behind this book would shine bright and loud and universal. Sigh. This is a pity, because there is a lot of great science in this book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    I was really looking forward to reading this. It seems, however, to be written for those who are healthy and wealthy. (I don't know about the "wise" part.) Being neither, the suggestions weren't relevant to my life. I was quite disappointed. In fact, I felt even more hopeless about my later years than I did before I began reading it. I was really looking forward to reading this. It seems, however, to be written for those who are healthy and wealthy. (I don't know about the "wise" part.) Being neither, the suggestions weren't relevant to my life. I was quite disappointed. In fact, I felt even more hopeless about my later years than I did before I began reading it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chinook

    This was just okay. It had a lot of fascinating and even useful information but it also had a lot of I inacknowledged privilege. If those with higher level jobs, the ones were job satisfaction feels like a reasonable goal, are all off deepening their careers and switching to more suitable ones etc, what’s everyone else doing? What’s midlife like for the poor?

  16. 5 out of 5

    Raymond Yee

    As I am about to finish my first year of my fifties -- what I think of as mid-mid-life, I warmed to the voice and story-telling of Barbara Hagerty's audiobook. I plan to go back to the print version of the book to mine it for specific applications, sure that there was wisdom to glean from someone who is roughly ten years further ahead in her journey. (The afterword, which is 16 suggestions for midlife, is a a nice list to print out and place on my fridge. Each point will also serve to remind me As I am about to finish my first year of my fifties -- what I think of as mid-mid-life, I warmed to the voice and story-telling of Barbara Hagerty's audiobook. I plan to go back to the print version of the book to mine it for specific applications, sure that there was wisdom to glean from someone who is roughly ten years further ahead in her journey. (The afterword, which is 16 suggestions for midlife, is a a nice list to print out and place on my fridge. Each point will also serve to remind me of specific anecdotes from the book that illustrate the point.) Although there were times that I wished Hagerty would get to the point in her narration and tell her reader what the bottom line of a given chapter was, I found the roundabout stories of her failures (followed by sweet successes) to be the most important part of the book. There's a lot to celebrate in midlife but I'm really trying to learn how to cope with the inevitable suffering and loss that are central parts of the journey. Hagerty manages to weave together realistic multiple strands that invite me to a closer re-examination.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Happyreader

    Reads like a good conversation with a friend who wants to set your mind at ease about getting older. Appropriate for a book that emphasizes the importance of friendships and other connections as we age. Nothing new but always good for a reminder – to try something new, stay engaged, develop emotional resilience, recognize and appreciate the gifts of experience and perspective and share what we have with others. As she says, our role in our second half is not to build up for ourselves (family, ca Reads like a good conversation with a friend who wants to set your mind at ease about getting older. Appropriate for a book that emphasizes the importance of friendships and other connections as we age. Nothing new but always good for a reminder – to try something new, stay engaged, develop emotional resilience, recognize and appreciate the gifts of experience and perspective and share what we have with others. As she says, our role in our second half is not to build up for ourselves (family, career, home) but to begin to give away our time, energy, and talents. Midlife is a time when it’s still not too late to begin something new and purposeful, something that builds upon skills we’ve already developed but takes us in exciting new directions and allows us to contribute what we’ve gained throughout the years.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Some strange winds propelled me to pick this book up at the library. In three weeks my oldest goes to college, my other two right behind him. I just turned 50. My summer has no work, few obligations. I am relaxed, having fun. I have been completely obsessed and tormented about my next chapter. Then Hagerty explains, "...you are almost invariably better off making the harder choice." Meaning, find purpose and engage. Yup. And she concludes, "Yes, it's hard. Yes, it's worth it." This is science-ba Some strange winds propelled me to pick this book up at the library. In three weeks my oldest goes to college, my other two right behind him. I just turned 50. My summer has no work, few obligations. I am relaxed, having fun. I have been completely obsessed and tormented about my next chapter. Then Hagerty explains, "...you are almost invariably better off making the harder choice." Meaning, find purpose and engage. Yup. And she concludes, "Yes, it's hard. Yes, it's worth it." This is science-based self-help wrapped in story-telling. Easy to read, easy to skim parts that don't feel pertinent. Lovely book and I am taking it all to heart.

  19. 5 out of 5

    LauraEllen

    I enjoyed her distillations of the science and the extensive notes to the research. I was with her til the end, rooting for her (rooting for me?) Ending weak - Obama reference seems trite. Probably less to do with Barbara’s writing than the current political landscape. “Every idea in this book runs against our natural tendency to want to relax, take it easy, reward ourselves for decades of work and child rearing.” ~ p. 356

  20. 5 out of 5

    Betsy J

    4.5 stars. I’ve read many books on “second acts” recently, and Barbara Hagerty’s take was a huge step up (if not multiple steps) from others with storytelling tied to scientific studies on how to live well (physically, emotionally, spiritually) in your 50s and beyond.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    I planned to skim this book and just take a few pearls of wisdom from it, but I wound up enjoying it so much that I wanted to read it cover to cover. I really liked the way that the extensive research about midlife (which I found fascinating) is interwoven with personal stories throughout.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Zehentner

    Sometimes depressing; sometimes inspirational. Barbara Hagerty is a true storyteller. She gives research and statistics an entertaining voice to help a person delve into midlife.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I'd like to read this again next decade... I'd like to read this again next decade...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tommy

    This was truly the right book at the right time, saying all the right things. Hagerty has thought (and researched) thoroughly about midlife, approaching it from the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual aspects. From our sudden overly-fueled desire to volunteer to the frustrating occasional lapse in our synapses, she speaks to the many challenges faced by those who fall in that grey and often dissatisfying demographic of 40-ish to 60-ish. If you find you're longing for meaning, change, stab This was truly the right book at the right time, saying all the right things. Hagerty has thought (and researched) thoroughly about midlife, approaching it from the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual aspects. From our sudden overly-fueled desire to volunteer to the frustrating occasional lapse in our synapses, she speaks to the many challenges faced by those who fall in that grey and often dissatisfying demographic of 40-ish to 60-ish. If you find you're longing for meaning, change, stability, the chance to contribute, and the possibility to pursue passions long marginalized, I think this book may offer wisdom and solace. Hagerty is practical, but appropriately idealistic. Inspiring, but grounded in the realities of the malaise and fears of life at this surreal crossroad known as middle age, when one's parents and children are looking to them for support, when one is apt to start to feel a little less sharp, a little more obsolete, and a little bewildered by what appear to be a lack of choices. Hagerty does a wonderful job of showing us the possibilities, and even illuminating some of the pathways to get there. I plan to spread the word about this one. And I plan to revisit it often for inspiration as changes, challenges, and opportunities are navigated.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lynne Spreen

    Barbara Bradley Haggerty, a journalist at National Public Radio, caught my attention with this passage in the start of her book: when she was in her fifties, she sensed a growing disconnect “between my thirty-something self-image and my fifty-something reality…I admitted there were moments, more and more frequent, when I seemed to be pushing a wheelbarrow full of dense, unfulfilled ambition up a steep gravel path. It was exhausting, but I didn’t know any other way to live.” After a health emerge Barbara Bradley Haggerty, a journalist at National Public Radio, caught my attention with this passage in the start of her book: when she was in her fifties, she sensed a growing disconnect “between my thirty-something self-image and my fifty-something reality…I admitted there were moments, more and more frequent, when I seemed to be pushing a wheelbarrow full of dense, unfulfilled ambition up a steep gravel path. It was exhausting, but I didn’t know any other way to live.” After a health emergency, she spent two years examining the middle stage of life, the forties, fifties, and sixties. She calls this a time to “pause to evaluate how to move forward in life.” I liked her attitude and found a good number of useful tidbits in this book, which was well-researched and had a conversational tone. Some reviewers have criticized her for being of a certain ethnicity and class, denigrating her exploration as elitist. Yes, it’s a privilege to be able to consider reinvention, as opposed to it being a dead issue due to poverty or ill health. However, I think an open mind is capable of taking in multitudes of data for the eventual betterment of civilization. I found the book helpful and recommend it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Zuly

    I expected this book to be about retirement when it actually centers on middle-age, the forties to fifties when people are thinking about disrupting their auto-pilot lives. It still applied to me, newly retired, and it applies to all ages seeking change and meaning. The 2 chapters on marriage cut to the quick of science supported truths about common core values necessary to make it not just work but carry meaning--and it's not religion, money, and power or the like. Everything in these chapters I expected this book to be about retirement when it actually centers on middle-age, the forties to fifties when people are thinking about disrupting their auto-pilot lives. It still applied to me, newly retired, and it applies to all ages seeking change and meaning. The 2 chapters on marriage cut to the quick of science supported truths about common core values necessary to make it not just work but carry meaning--and it's not religion, money, and power or the like. Everything in these chapters and in others is backed by science and the latest research; the anecdotal is explored by the science behind it. Excellent chapters on second careers and the exploration, and how life affirms the efforts to live life more fully in all ways, not at the end of one's career, but at the start of the next chapter.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    Get more sleep, get exercise, growth mindset. Seriously. To all the writers in the world, please for the love of everything good, we already know about growth mindset and all of the other social sciences. Write a memoir if you want, but please stop with the cataloguing of all the feel good social science research that any educated reader of the Times has already heard 1000 times. But sure, I agree with her that midlife can be great. I even liked the memoir bits and at the end where she decides t Get more sleep, get exercise, growth mindset. Seriously. To all the writers in the world, please for the love of everything good, we already know about growth mindset and all of the other social sciences. Write a memoir if you want, but please stop with the cataloguing of all the feel good social science research that any educated reader of the Times has already heard 1000 times. But sure, I agree with her that midlife can be great. I even liked the memoir bits and at the end where she decides to write the book instead of staying in journalism. But have you ever noticed that the writers who talk most about the process of writing a book don't necessarily have the best books? I'm looking at you Ryan Holiday.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    I really loved this book and have been recommending it to everyone! One of my favorite aspects of this book is how she blends her personal life/story in with research and stories of others. I found this book very inspiring because as I age, I sometimes feel down about how "the best is behind me," but according to her research, that isn't true. She covers happiness and research on many aspects of life such as work, relationships, marriage, starting over, etc. I like how she moves back and forth. Sh I really loved this book and have been recommending it to everyone! One of my favorite aspects of this book is how she blends her personal life/story in with research and stories of others. I found this book very inspiring because as I age, I sometimes feel down about how "the best is behind me," but according to her research, that isn't true. She covers happiness and research on many aspects of life such as work, relationships, marriage, starting over, etc. I like how she moves back and forth. She also uses herself as research, so it's great to read about what she does and experiences, such as trying to train her brain to remember more, and also working on improving herself as an athlete. I would recommend this book to anyone over 40!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    This is the rare book I think I might have to read again. There's so much interesting and useful information here. BBH is an intelligent and engaging writer who uses her NPR-honed storytelling skills to deliver an essential book about that amorphous phase we call midlife. She weaves together case studies, research, and her own personal experience and makes it all relevant and compelling to the reader. I can't tell you how many times I read passages out loud to my wife. Always a sign that a book This is the rare book I think I might have to read again. There's so much interesting and useful information here. BBH is an intelligent and engaging writer who uses her NPR-honed storytelling skills to deliver an essential book about that amorphous phase we call midlife. She weaves together case studies, research, and her own personal experience and makes it all relevant and compelling to the reader. I can't tell you how many times I read passages out loud to my wife. Always a sign that a book has hit its target.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    Much food for thought here and great timing (I discovered it the day I quit my job). I agree with other reviewers -- some editing would have been helpful and some of what was in the footnotes could have been included in main text. Also, the time shifts were confusing (perhaps because I read this on Kindle). And the author kind of leaves us hanging. She took the NPR buyout and decided she really likes writing books, but what happens when this book tour is over?

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