By Rachel Lankester, Mutton Club editor and founder, Magnificent Midlife Movement
Since I started my midlife journey after an early menopause catapulted me into this complex, often bewildering, but ultimately wonderous stage of life, I’ve read some brilliant books about menopause, making the very most of life and ageing well. I thought it was only fair to share these with you. Because knowledge is power.
The more we know about how to approach menopause and ageing well, the more empowered to be magnificent we can be! So here are my favorites so far! Of course I’m also writing my own book too, so watch out for that in due course! Enjoy!
I love this book! It fits completely with how I view menopause, as something over which we can take control!
This practical nutrition and lifestyle guide provides women with the tools to build their own menopause diet which specifically targets the symptoms that are relevant to them. There are so many ways that nutrition can support a healthy and happy menopause, but a one-size-fits-all approach simply won’t work.
The reality is that there are many different menopausal symptoms and no two women have the same experience. Listen to my podcast interview with author, Jackie Lynch here.
Menopause hit Darcey Steinke hard. First came hot flushes. Then insomnia. Then depression. As she struggled to understand what was happening to her, she slammed up against a culture of silence and sexism.
Some promoted hormone replacement therapy, others encouraged acceptance, but there was little that offered a path to understanding menopause in an engaged way. Flash Count Diary is a powerful exploration into aspects of menopause that have rarely been written about, including the changing gender landscape that reduced levels of hormones brings, the actualities of transforming desires, and the realities of prejudice against older women.
This is a deeply feminist book, honest about the intimations of mortality that menopause signals but also an argument for the ascendency, beauty and power of the post-reproductive years in women’s lives. Listen to my podcast interview with the author Darcey Steinke here.
We all have an ikigai. It’s the Japanese word for a reason to live or a reason to jump out of bed in the morning. I reckon this becomes more important than ever in midlife and beyond.
It’s the place where your needs, desires, ambitions, and satisfaction meet. A place of balance. Small wonder that finding your ikigai is closely linked to living longer.
Finding your ikigai is easier than you might think. This book will help you work out what your own ikigai really is and equip you to change your life. You have a purpose in this world: your skills, your interests, your desires and your history have made you the perfect candidate for something. All you have to do is find it.
Do that, and you can make every single day of your life joyful and meaningful.
4. The Shift
Including chapters on menopause, sex, culture, work, rage and freedom, writer and journalist Sam Baker shares her experiences of life post 40 and shows women how to create their own story. This needn’t herald the era of loose clothing and hair dye; or hot flashes and bad sleep (though there is that too).
It’s time women north of 40 took a leaf out of the millennial handbook and reinvented things our way.
Diseases of older age take root decades before symptoms appear. For a longer, happier life, we need to plan ahead – but what exactly should we do?
For five years, Annabel Streets and Susan Saunders immersed themselves in the latest science of longevity, radically overhauling their lives and documenting their findings on their popular blog.
After reading hundreds of studies and talking to numerous experts, Annabel and Susan compiled almost 100 short cuts to health in mid and later life, including: how, when and what to eat; the supplements worth taking; when, where and how to exercise; the most useful medical tests; how to avoid health-threatening chemicals; the best methods for keeping the brain sharp; and how to sleep better.
The Age-Well Project is an essential handbook for making the second half of your life happy, healthy and disease-free.
From childhood on, we’re barraged by messages that it’s sad to be old. That wrinkles are embarrassing, and old people are useless. Author and activist Ashton Applewhite believed them too – until she realized where this prejudice comes from and the damage it does.
Lively, funny, and deeply researched, This Chair Rocks traces Applewhite’s journey from apprehensive boomer to pro-ageing radical, and in the process debunks myth after myth about late life.
The book explains the roots of ageism – in history and in our own age denial – and how it divides and debases, examines how ageist myths and stereotypes cripple the way our brains and bodies function, looks at ageism in the workplace and the bedroom, exposes the cost of the myth of independence, critiques the portrayal of olders as burdens to society, describes what an all-age-friendly world would look like, and concludes with a rousing call to action.
Whether you’re older or hoping to get there, this book will shake you by the shoulders, cheer you up, make you mad, and change the way you see the rest of your life. Listen to my podcast interview with author Ashton Applewhite here.
In this ground-breaking book, Clare Josa teaches you her 5-step approach for getting rid of Imposter Syndrome, for good. Did you know peak Imposter Syndrome for women is menopause!! She reveals why you’re not alone, if the usual mindset-based, cognitive approaches haven’t worked for you.
The practical strategies in Ditching Imposter Syndrome will help you to identify and then fully release Imposter Syndrome’s subconscious drivers, in a way that’s fast, fun and forever. You’ll learn the secrets of natural resilience, true inner confidence and how to take off those secret masks, to show up as the leader you were born to be – so you can make the difference you are really here to make in the world.
Listen to my podcast interview with author Clare Josa here.
Suzi Grant is 70 and every inch a goddess. Still living life to the full, she knows the secrets of looking and feeling fabulous forever.
A leading blogger and researcher into ageing, Suzi has created this easy Alternative Ageing action plan to give you more energy and vitality. Follow the tips in Alternative Ageing and you’ll soon discover a new you who looks and feels great and runs rings around your children – and even grandchildren. Listen to my podcast interview with author Suzi Grant here.
A decade ago, Caitlin Moran thought she had it all figured out. Her instant bestseller How to Be a Woman was a game-changing take on feminism, the patriarchy, and the general ‘hoo-ha’ of becoming a woman. Back then, she firmly believed ‘the difficult bit’ was over, and her forties were going to be a doddle.
If only she had known: when middle age arrives, a whole new bunch of tough questions need answering. Why isn’t there such a thing as a ‘Mum Bod’? How did sex get boring? What are men really thinking?
Where did all that stuff in the kitchen drawers come from? Can feminists have Botox? Why has wine turned against you? How can you tell the difference between a Teenage Micro-Breakdown and The Real Thing? Has feminism gone too far? And, as always, WHO’S LOOKING AFTER THE CHILDREN?
Now with ageing parents, teenage daughters, a bigger bum and a To-Do list without end, Caitlin Moran is back with More Than A Woman: a guide to growing older, a manifesto for change, and a celebration of all those middle-aged women who keep the world turning.
10. The XX Brain
The XX Brain presents groundbreaking research showing that women’s brains age distinctly from men’s, due mostly to the decline of a key brain-protective hormone: estrogen.
Taking on all aspects of women’s health, including brain fog, memory lapses, depression, stress, insomnia, hormonal imbalances and the increased risk of dementia, Dr. Mosconi introduces cutting-edge, evidence-based methods for protecting the female brain, encompassing diet, stress reduction and sleep.
She also examines the effectiveness of hormonal replacement therapy, addresses the perils of environmental toxins and explores the role of our microbiome. Luckily, it is never too late to take care of yourself.
Grow Your Own HRT shows the scientific proof of why some women menopause without a problem and how you can become one of them.
Feeling menopausal and need some help? Did you know you can grow your own HRT? Sprouted foods are one of the world’s richest sources of plant hormones and not only the densest form of nutrients on the planet but also easy to digest.
As we evolved on plant hormones, we have receptors in our cells looking for them and it supports our systems to get them back into our diets. You find detailed instructions on how to grow hormone-rich plants on your windowsill in just two minutes a day.
In addition, the author details how to self-diagnose, how much to take and which sprouts to grow for which symptoms. Say no to expensive supplements, changing your whole diet and synthetic hormones. Grow your own HRT the way nature intended – it’s quick, cheap and natural – you have nothing to lose.
The menopause. An emotionally complex issue that can trigger a whole host of physical and mental side effects. So why aren’t we talking about it?
This is the book that Andrea McLean wished for as she found herself in uncharted territory, grappling with the physical aftershock of a hysterectomy and the psychological fallout of a difficult menopause.
Typically candid, covering all you need to know, including tips and tricks on diet, exercise and even your sex life, Andrea brings her trademark humour and honesty to a very hot topic.
In Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel looks at the story of sex in committed couples. Modern romance promises it all – a lifetime of togetherness, intimacy and erotic desire. In reality, it’s hard to want what you already have. For couples in midlife, who may have been together for years and years, this book can be a chance to reclaim the erotic!
Our quest for secure love conflicts with our pursuit of passion. And often, the very thing that got us to into our relationships – lust – is the one thing that goes missing from them.
Determined to reconcile the erotic and the domestic, Perel explains why democracy is a passion killer in the bedroom. She argues for playfulness, distance, and uncertainty.
She shows what it takes to bring lust home. Smart, sexy and explosively original, Mating in Captivity is the monogamist’s essential bedside read.
Have you felt irrelevant or invisible since you hit middle age? Do you feel less sexy, less confident, or less passionate with each passing decade? Are you looking forward to retirement so you can just “chill” for 20 or 30 years?
In this irreverent and humorous how-to guide, motivational speaker and coach Juju Hook gives it to you straight about why you’ve likely come to dread middle age, and why it should be the time of your life.
A brand strategist for over 25 years, Juju describes her transition from a successful but unfulfilling career (and a role as helicopter mom to her teenage son) to living out the dreams she’d set aside for decades and making midlife her bitch.
Through personal stories, humor, practical tips, and a proven system for turning midlife into PrimeTime, she provides a foolproof path for every woman who has lost her lust for life and wants to recapture it.
Angela Raspass knows from first-hand experience that self-doubt can be the greatest obstacle preventing us from achieving our true capabilities. Now an experienced business mentor and women’s coach, Angela has helped hundreds of women ditch their doubt and create their own exciting new business chapters.
In ‘Your Next Chapter’, Angela now offers inspiration, guidance and simple tools to help you navigate doubt, anchor into your true worth and access your courage, confidence and creativity. She also shares her own raw stories of recovery from addiction, and transition through three major work-life changes to the business that sustains her soul today.
Listen to my podcast interview with author Angela Raspass here.
While author Terri Hanson Mead wrote Piloting Your Life as a love letter to GenX women, the messages and stories transcend age providing women of all ages with permission to design and live a life of our own creation.
Diverse women from around the world share their personal stories of learning, growing and thriving through midlife to inspire you to explore and experiment.
As a commercially rated helicopter pilot, Terri encourages all women to disengage autopilot, take the controls, and be the pilots in our own lives.
17. Come As You Are
For much of the 20th and 21st centuries, women’s sexuality was an uncharted territory in science, studied far less frequently–and far less seriously–than its male counterpart.
That is, until Emily Nagoski’s Come As You Are, which used groundbreaking science and research to prove that the most important factor in creating and sustaining a sex life filled with confidence and joy is not what the parts are or how they’re organized but how you feel about them. This can become even more the case in midlife!
In the years since the book’s initial publication, countless women have learned through Nagoski’s accessible and informative guide that things like stress, mood, trust, and body image are not peripheral factors in a woman’s sexual wellbeing; they are central to it–and that even if you don’t always feel like it, you are already sexually whole by just being yourself.
This revised and updated edition continues that mission with new information and advanced research, demystifying and decoding the science of sex so that everyone can create a better sex life and discover more pleasure than you ever thought possible.
18. Daring Greatly
Every time we are faced with change, no matter how great or small, we also face risk. We feel uncertain and exposed. We feel vulnerable. Most of us try to fight those feelings – or feel guilt for feeling them in the first place.
In a powerful new vision, Dr Brené Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability, and dispels the widely accepted myth that it’s a weakness. She argues that, in truth, vulnerability is strength and when we shut ourselves off from vulnerability – from revealing our true selves – we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. Yes!
Daring Greatly is the culmination of 12 years of groundbreaking social research, across every area of our lives including home, relationships, work, and parenting. It is an invitation to be courageous; to show up and let ourselves be seen, even when there are no guarantees.
With this book, you’re being handed the keys to a turned-on life – a life that is authentic, radiant and open to pleasure and joy, whatever your age. Regena Thomashauer has long noticed that ‘pussy’ is one of the most pejorative words in the English language.
No one calls you a ‘pussy’ when they want to tell you how radiant you look, how capably you work or what an inspiring life you lead. But all that’s about to change.
In this remarkable book, Regena reclaims the word for what it rightly is: the highest of all possible compliments, a sacred living prayer. Pussy has been written to reacquaint you with your own power source.
With the End in Mind is a book for us all: the grieving and bereaved, the ill and the healthy. By turns touching and tragic, funny and wise, it tells powerful human stories of life and death.
Eric, the retired head teacher who even with Motor Neurone Disease gets things done. Sylvie, 19 and diagnosed with leukaemia, sewing a cushion for her mum to hold after she has died. Nelly and Joe, two people enduring loneliness to shield their beloveds from distress.
A powerful and emotional book based on a lifetime’s clinical experience, With the End in Mind offers calm, wise advice on how to face death, live fully and find a model for hope in dark times.
If anything will make you want to make the very most of the next stage of life, this is it. Listen to my incredibly inspiring podcast interview with author Kathryn Mannix.
Rachel Lankester is founder of the Magnificent Midlife Movement, host of the Magnificent Midlife Podcast, a midlife mentor and editor of the Mutton Club online magazine. After an initially devastating early menopause at 41, she dedicated herself to helping women vibrantly transition through the sometimes messy middle of life, helping them cope better with menopause and ageing in general, and create magnificent next chapters. She’s been featured in/on BBC Woman’s Hour, The Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Authority Magazine, The Age Buster, Woman’s Weekly, Prima Magazine, eShe, Tatler HK and Woman’s Own amongst others. She believes we just get better with age.