Life Reimagined

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Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife
464 pages; Riverhead
If the last 30 years of life are like an extended  visit to a new country (inadequate infrastructure, disorienting surprises, failures in communication, unexpected fashions), I've found the perfect travel companion.

In Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife, Barbara Bradley Hagerty walks, bikes, and stumbles beside us through our 40s, 50s, and 60s and persuades us that not only is there no crisis, there's mostly good news about these decades. She doesn't say you'll look as good in a bikini as you did at 20—I wouldn't believe her if she did. But I don't care much about bikinis these days, a feat that Barbara—her writing is so warm and open, we're now on a first-name basis—counts among the benefits of getting to this point.

Although the book is much better than a feel-good guide or an inspirational homily, it does the work of both those things, and more. Hagerty is a serious journalist whose bout with illness (she's a former NPR correspondent whose vocal chords froze) led her to examine what she calls the midlife monuments: career, marriage, generativity (connecting with others). She opens our eyes to useful, undeniable rules for strong second and third acts: "Engage with verve.... Autopilot is death." "Aim for meaning and not happiness, and you will find both." Locate your "rudder." It will help you weather the winds, even if you can't control them. I have a feeling I'll be dipping back into this book whenever the waters get choppy.

— Amy Bloom