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

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,679 ratings  ·  242 reviews
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
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published March 15th 2016 by Riverhead Books
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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,679 ratings  ·  242 reviews

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Apr 14, 2016 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Kater Cheek
Sep 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Andrea McDowell
There's nothing about this book that's wrong, but the entire thing is self-involved, focused on the individual, and unfeeling. An enormous continent of collective suffering and injustice is right below the surface of her writing, but she never makes more than a token acknowledgement of it before blithely returning to her meritorious good fortune and that of her fellow uber-privileged Americans.

For example, early on, she writes about how the combination of good education and a challenging career
Shirley Showalter
Aug 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Jay French
Sep 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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 ...more
Apr 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aging
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.
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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!
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such timely and practical insights. Makes this aging thing seem OK!
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Brianna Klein
Jul 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Apr 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Thurston Hunger
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Found a condensed version of this book in a little magazine her brother happens to own :

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
Sep 20, 2016 rated it liked it
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
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
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. ...more
Oct 26, 2019 rated it liked it
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?
Raymond Yee
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mind-altering
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 ...more
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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, " 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
Oct 03, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audiobook read by the author for a book club and initially gave it a “meh, it was ok I guess” assessment but when we actually started talking about it I recalled all the cringey things I heard her actually say out loud. This book felt very self-congratulatory and encouraged toxic positivity several times over. She lost me when talking about her arduous mission to train for the senior Olympics at age 42 (which I currently am) and seemed to believe that’s a relatable plight. Also ...more
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
Betsy J
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
Andrea Zehentner
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I'd like to read this again next decade... ...more
Jun 24, 2022 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable, useful book about the best strategies for approaching the doldrums of middle age (45-65) and changing behaviors to prevent mental and physical decline in the later years, told with in the context of Hagerty’s own mid-50s experience. I especially enjoyed chapters 3 (about how memory and brain function can still be improved in middle age), 4 (about the importance of friendship in middle age), 5 (about the power of positive thinking - though this one may go a bit too far for me), and ...more
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Lynne Spreen
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: midlife
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 ...more
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
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