Book Reviews

Midlife Books

The book reviews on this page include a series of books related to the midlife stage. For a detailed list of some of my favourite books, see My Reading List at the bottom of this page.

Transitioning to midlife included one of my favourite pastimes – reading and journaling. Several books resonated at just the right time, sharing essential insights into this new season. It helped me view midlife from a refreshing perspective.

Aha Moments

There were several ‘aha’ moments flowing from the book reviews below. I’m grateful to the authors for sharing their stories with such honest vulnerability. I gained several key takeaways from others’ stories. Such as learning how to listen to my life because it offers the clues needed to thrive on purpose in midlife.

Book Review: Let Your Life Speak

“Let Your Life Speak” invites readers into a pilgrimage of re-discovery of our truer selves, our birthright gift. It invites us to strip away the expectations of others. And differentiate between the ego-self, the intellectual self and the ethical self that confuses true identity. It prompts one to listen to the ways challenging life experiences, reactions, intuition, and instincts offer insight into the self. 

Palmer views limitations and liabilities as the inevitable trade-off for a particular character strength. It’s to ease the constant internal striving to fix ourselves.  Palmer invites readers on a journey into themselves. There, he says, is where can discover “the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need”.

Book Review: Barbara and Susan’s Guide to the Empty Nest

BARBARA AND SUSAN’S GUIDE TO THE EMPTY NEST

I valued the comprehensive way Barbara and Susan address the empty nest season. Their insights echo some of my own experiences as I navigate the anticipated empty nest transition.

The book focuses on the different areas of life this season will impact, including symbolic loss, dealing with disappointments, the shift in the marriage relationship, and finding new purpose and support. It includes practical tools and guidance for women facing the transitioning parenting role from a Christian perspective.

Highly recommended to any parent approaching the empty nest who is struggling with the shift during this challenging but exciting life season. If I had to critique anything, it would be the lengthy title but even that seemed to stick in my mind whenever I think about this book.

Book Review: Get Your Life Back by John Eldredge

GET YOUR LIFE BACK

I loved this book by John Eldredge about slowing down for a moment every day to pause and reset. It is such a simple 60-second practice, but one that can help you find calm to re-align you in the ways that truly matter in a world saturated with ‘noise’.

It is a simplified read targeted at Christian readers, but the one-minute pause can apply to a general audience seeking ways to slow down and tune in to your spirituality.

Book Review: Unravelled by Stephenie Zamora

UNRAVEL

Stephenie refers to writing this book as her ‘final layer of healing’. For readers, it offers insight and courage to begin their own healing journey after a significant loss or a major life transition. Her story encourages us to unravel our own characteristic ways of showing up in the world to identify the areas that are not aligned with the truest parts of our being. The more aligned we become with our inner selves, our needs and strengths, the greater the impact we will have on those we encounter along the way.

The book concludes with practical tools and resources to support individuals towards a more authentic re-alignment of themselves and their relationships with others.

Book Review: X-Multiply Your God-Given Potential

X-MULTIPLY YOUR GOD-GIVEN POTENTIAL

In his 2020 book, X-Multiply Your God-Given Potential, John Bevere insightfully unravels the scriptural blueprint for purposeful living. It skillfully integrates personal stories with scripture to drive the message home.

I particularly valued the way John unpacks the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14. He offers valuable, fresh insight into God’s expectations and outcomes for stewards of the gifts entrusted to us.

A second key point focused on platforms outside the church to share our talents and gifts.

I highly recommend this book for Christ-followers keen to deepen their understanding of their God-given purpose and how to express it in everyday life.

THE IRRESISTIBLE INTROVERT

BOOK REVIEW: THE IRRESISTIBLE INTROVERT

The Irresistible Introvert: Harness the Power of Quiet Charisma in a Loud World by Michaela Chung offers several descriptive introvert traits to help introverts better understand and embrace their unique characteristics and qualities.

The first part of the book focuses on the difference between intro- and extroverts and how they’re pitted against each other in society as one being preferred over the other, which often causes introverts to disassociate from their true selves to fit in and be more acceptable in the world. It also highlights all the virtues and unique strengths of introverts and how to harness your introvert strengths to live the most fulfilling lives and enjoy healthy relationships.  

Recommended for any introvert who feels misunderstood within themselves and by others.

BOOK REVIEW: PRESENT OVER PERFECT

PRESENT OVER PERFECT

The theme of the book, Present Over Perfect, is focused on exchanging busyness and perfectionism for being more present in one’s own life and prioritising your closest loved ones over everything else, including Christian service.

It focuses on turning inward for quiet and stillness, away from the chaos of the external world to reconnect with your core self once again.

Interestingly, Shauna, a self-proclaimed extrovert has come to experience and appreciate the essential value of solitude, quiet and introspection.

Shauna proposes that Christians consider cultivating self- and soul-care as of equal importance as contributing to building the Kingdom of God because they are a part of that Kingdom.

In his book, Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer proposes that we listen to our lives to understand what truths and values we embody instead of telling our lives what truths and values we’ve decided to live up to. Similarly, Shauna suggests we listen to the clues our inner world drops into our consciousness through strong emotions that typically symbolise a longing of the heart for something missing from your own life. This is often only revealed when we become still and allow the deeper truths of our souls to bubble to the surface.

Readers who appreciated John Eldredge’s book, Take Your Life Back, which encourages readers to slow down to live more deeply, and Brene Brown’s overarching message to stop hustling and seeking your self-worth, validation, and approval from external forces, will enjoy Present Over Perfect.

The insights shared will appeal to readers seeking ways to deepen their inner peace and stability and shift to a more authentic and spiritual way of living from the inside out.

BIG MAGIC

Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic delves into the depths of what it means to fully live your passions and express your unique creativity. Also, how to navigate the dry spells of creativity through commitment and consistency, and hold loosely to the outcomes once you release your creative works into the world.

This book is recommended for readers who are exploring how to best tap in and learn to work with their creative passions.

THE WAY OF INTEGRITY

In her book, The Way of Integrity, Martha Beck maintains that ‘the uniquely human characteristic of assigning achievement value to random things stems from culture or social conditioning, not our inherent nature’. Our true selves, she says, are ‘pure nature and don’t give an iota who does it better’.

Here’s the key point – it’s not about being the best but doing my best and enjoying every moment engaging in things that bring me joy. It’s not about comparison anymore. Not for me. Never again – not with any passion that flows from the heart.

Identifying the things that keep you stuck, or as Martha Beck phrases it – ‘brush away a cobweb of false belief and perceive something real’ results in instant freedom or realigning with your true self again.

Martha offers a simple practical exercise to answer five questions that can help us distinguish between doing things driven by cultural comparison or by an innate desire.

I enjoyed Claire Cook’s Memoir, Never Too Late because it resonated with so much of my reinvention story, particularly as a fledgling writer. Claire offers insightful tips for reinventing your life that better aligns with your innate self, strengths, and passions.  I love Claire’s authentic voice that comes through as if she’s just chatting to you in person.  Her casual conversational writing style makes her relatable to a reader.

I recommend this book for anyone in midlife keen to pivot towards a life of deeper meaning and purpose. Here’s a little confession: I’ve watched the movie (once or twice) but have never read any of Claire’s novels, partly because I didn’t know about them (haha). And now that I better understand the common thread of reinvention that support her novels, I’m keen to tuck in on my next writing break!

MY READING LIST

  • Top Five Regrets of the Dying – Bronnie Ware
  • The Age of Miracles: Embracing the New Midlife – Marianne Williamson
  • Menopause Confidential – Tara Allmen, M.D.
  • Boundaries – Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
  • Beyond Boundaries – Dr. John Townsend
  • Called to Create – Jordan Raynor
  • The Purpose Driven Life – Rick Warren
  • X-Multiply Your God-Given Potential – John Bevere
  • Let Your Life Speak – Parker J. Palmer
  • Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Way of Integrity – Martha Beck
  • Bittersweet – Shauna Niequist
  • Present Over Perfect – Shauna Niequist
  • The Gifts of Imperfection – Brené Brown
  • Rising Strong – Brené Brown
  • I Thought It Was Just Me – Brené Brown
  • Daring Greatly – Brené Brown
  • Wise Mind, Open Mind – Ronald A. Alexander
  • Becoming Myself – Stasi Eldredge
  • On Grief and Grieving – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler
  • Your Grief, Your Way – Shelby Forsythia
  • Refuse to Choose – Barbara Sher
  • Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents – Lindsay C. Gibson
  • Recovering from Emotionally Immature Parents- Lindsay C. Gibson
  • Healing Through the Dark Emotions – Miriam Greenspan
  • The Big Leap – Gay Hendricks
  • Five Wishes – Gay Hendricks
  • Every Good Endeavour – Timothy Keller
  • Frientimacy – Shasta Nelson
  • Unglued – Lysa Terkeurst
  • Made To Crave – Lysa Terkeurst
  • What Happens When Women Walk in Faith – Lysa Terkeurst
  • Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God – Sharon Jaynes
  • Women Living Well – Courtney Joseph
  • Get Your Life Back – John Eldredge
  • One More Step – Rachel Wojo
  • Let.It.Go. – Karen Ehman
  • Emerging Adulthood – Jeffrey Jensen Arnett
  • One Word that will change your life – Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, Jimmy Page
  • Never Too Late – Claire Cook

Current Reading List

  • Undaunted – Christine Caine
  • Shine On: How to Grow Awesome instead of Old- Claire Cook
  • Quiet – Susan Cain
  • Quiet Power – The Secret Strengths of Introverts – Susan Cain
  • Introvert Power – Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength – Laurie Helgoe
  • The Introvert’s Way – Sophia Dembling

  • Is your empty nest beckoning? Find out how to embrace shifting Motherhood
    This article explores practical faith-based tips to embrace shifting motherhood when you’re facing an empty nest. All of a sudden the nest is empty. The birds have gone, and what had been a constant blur of activity is now nothing more than a few discarded feathers. Silence mutes all that was colourful and it is
  • He Leads Me Beside Still Waters
    All too often, when we face the trials and tribulations that are a guaranteed part of life in this world (John 16:33), a common response is to escape to safety. You want to return to your comfort zone – that place where everything is familiar. There are no risks or surprises to catch you off
  • How to Fight Your Goal Gremlins to Fast-Track Your Goals
    This article explores five ways to overcome the obstacles holding you back from reaching your goals. ‘When you can look a thing dead in the eye, acknowledge that it exists, call it exactly what it is, and decide what role it will take in your life, then you have taken the first step toward your