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Why We Can't Sleep: Women's New Midlife Crisis

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,463 ratings  ·  340 reviews
When Ada Calhoun found herself in the throes of a midlife crisis, she thought that she had no right to complain. She was married with children and a good career. So why did she feel miserable? And why did it seem that the women around her were miserable, too?

Calhoun decided to find some answers. She looked into housing costs, HR trends, credit card debt averages and
Published January 7th 2020 by Text Publishing
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Pam S Great question. As a childfree Gen X woman I was really disappointed at the relative lack of this perspective in the book. There are a few mentions of…moreGreat question. As a childfree Gen X woman I was really disappointed at the relative lack of this perspective in the book. There are a few mentions of women without children, but most of the book is about Gen X mothers specifically, not Gen X women generally. I feel that descriptions of the book should have indicated this somehow; that the focus is on parenting. I still found it to be an interesting read, but it did not resonate with me as I had hoped.(less)
Tanya Ehlert The author writes from a Gen X white CIS female perspective. She discusses some generalizations for CIS male Gen X cohorts and very lightly touches on…moreThe author writes from a Gen X white CIS female perspective. She discusses some generalizations for CIS male Gen X cohorts and very lightly touches on non-cis persons, but even saying that might be an exaggeration. (less)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Elyse  Walters
Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can’t sleep?
Wonder about others sleeping habits?

The author primarily focuses on Generation X women....
but....if you find yourself awake in the middle of the night won’t feel alone after reading ‘this’ book!

Ha... I read this during the middle of the night.

Ada Calhoun did her research!!!
She interviewed thousands of women around the country.
We get insights about what concerns Generation X women......
single women - divorce women - women with or without children - women working three
Feb 09, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
3.5 stars

Self-help books have always been a bit of a “hit and miss” for me, which is why I’m very selective when it comes to choosing books from this genre to read. Of course, first and foremost, the subject matter needs to be interesting and also relevant to my current situation – on this count, Ada Calhoun’s newest book Why We Can’t Sleep did deliver, however in some ways, it also fell a bit short of expectations for me.

As a member of Generation X (like the author herself), it’s refreshing
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was lucky to receive an early copy of this book from Edelweiss. I have read a lot of books about women in today's society, but never one that examined the problem from a generational lens. I did my master's research paper on generations in the workplace, specifically the library, and it was really interesting to get a new perspective on it. Calhoun is a member of Generation X, and so the book focuses mostly on that generation, but there is plenty of context from the other generations as well. ...more
P.S.G. Lopes
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
***I cannot believe I was blessed to read this AMAZING book before it was formally released. I was invited to read this book through #NetGalley. ***

Ada Calhoun’s Why We Can’t Sleep has become my bible, my battle cry, my feminist go-to book for women my age. I got so much out of reading this book. The very second I picked up this book I literally absorbed each and every word and got angrier (in the best possible way), more passionate, and more dedicated to my own goals and missions.

"Boomers deserve full credit for blazing trails while facing unchecked sexism and macroaggressions and for trying to raise children while giving up their own dreams. But Gen Xers entered life with "having it all" not as a bright new option but as a mandatory social condition."

Confession: being born in 1981, this classifies me as a (very old) Millennial and not a Gen Xer. But I figure I had a crush on Zach Morris as a kid, so, you know, I'm close enough to Calhoun's target demographic to warrant
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved Calhoun's book about wedding toasts. This one felt forced to me. I could not relate more to a book--I am gen x also struggling with sleep. But I am not sure the answers in here are right--or at least new. There's a lot in here about structural issues like fair pay and second shift stuff and a lot of personal stories. She points out that wine drinking has become this generation's self-help philosophy. This seems true, but I'm not sure it's unique to this generation. I appreciate her ...more
Leslie Lindsay
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A searing exploration of stresses that keep GenX women up at night (literally and metaphorically), I raced through this book, which completely resonated.

So, so grateful to have received an early copy of WHY WE CAN'T SLEEP: Women's New Midlife Crisis (Grove Atlantic, 2020) by memoirist/journalist Ada Calhoun. I was feeling especially down the day it arrived--you know, that existential angst--and was immediately gleeful after reading the book's description: we are a group of women with outward
Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition
Every woman between 40 - 60 years old should read this book!
It is so well researched, realistic and affirming - for all of us who feel we should not be allowed to be happy unless we are living perfect lives, having it all and doing it all correctly, at all times.
Whew, such a relief not to be compelled to "self-help" in order to be perfect at everything - if we are feeling overwhelmed at times, maybe it's because that being overwhelmed is a sane response to what is happening in our lives right
Alicia Bayer
I've finally finished this book, which is basically a pity dump for upper middle-class 40-something, privileged white women. Wow, what a lot of navel gazing and self absorption.

The author finished writing this book as she turned 42, which I don't even consider midlife (I guess I'm an optimist but I'm aiming higher than 84). I have a vivid memory of when I was 42. This memory rarely leaves me. I was sitting in an empty lobby in a children's hospital with my 6 month-old baby in my arms. Two
Erin Bartels
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Witty, well-researched, and full of compassion, Ada Calhoun's book about Gen X women's midlife crises/issues/concerns hits home. If you're a Gen X woman, you will find here someone who watched all the same TV shows, listened to all the same music, and had all the same fears as you did growing up. She'll show you how growing up in the 1970s and 1980s affects some of the things you may be facing now that you're in your forties. And she offers strategies for dealing with such varied things as ...more
Sherri Thacker
“You come to this place, midlife. You don’t know how you get here, but suddenly you’re staring 50 in the face!” Yes this was me 6 years ago when i turned the big 5-0 and I knew this book was written about me. Especially with the title as I have not slept good in YEARS!! But this book is more about the facts of being in the Generation X group of women which according to this book, I miss it by a year since I was born in 1963. I found myself skimming large sections because I was losing interest. ...more
Jan 12, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this book works best as a mirror, and wasn't as resonant for me because there are a lot of mirrors out there for me. The title is fairly misleading - there is nothing about sleep in this book, nor is the case made for Gen X midlife crises being particularly unique. Calhoun breaks (largely) cis, middle and upper class Gen X women's lives and concerns into chapters (eg relationships, career, finances) with a final synthesis chapter.

There is a lot of cited data in this book, and I
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When it is hot as heck outside and there is nothing cool to do but reading as everything else makes you end up a sweaty mess, it is the perfect day for a speed reader.

I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do .

When Ada Calhoun found herself in the throes of a midlife crisis, she thought that
Bruin Mccon
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Why Can’t We Sleep is a non-fiction book made for Gen X women who, as the title implies, really need some shut eye.

I read an excerpt of this book in a magazine what feels like at least a year ago and I was very excited to get my hands on an advance review copy in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, this book rocks. It’s the catharsis you’ve been waiting for!

“We’re the first generation of women raised from birth hearing the tired cliche ’having it all’—then discovering as adults it is very
chantel nouseforaname
I needed to read this, this past week was a little crazy, so it was necessary. Sometimes you feel like you're doing too much, giving too much away, expecting too much of yourself, etc. This just reminds you that you can do whatever you want and that it's important to put yourself first and not follow anyone's/society's rules for you. My problem with the book is that it's a little white feministy. However, it's whatever. It's a soothing, calming, marginally reaffirming read.
Margaret King
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why We Can't Sleep: because we stayed up all night reading this book! This book spoke to me so much--and I recognize, at 41 (the same age as the author when she was writing it), I was among the intended audience--so, for me, it hit home in many ways, both personally and thinking back to what I experienced and observed growing up. Gen X is considered a forgotten generation--1 we almost never hear about because everyone has been talking constantly about Baby Boomers and Millennials. The stereotype ...more
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, arc

I was born in late 80's, so I am a Millennial!
And whaterver topics Ada Calhoun broached in this book, also relate to Millennials. Not only Gex X ladies. I loved every inch of it. It practically sang to me which I had not expected at all. But it was like a knowledge passed on to me that every woman will feel this in her life time no matter where is she born. That made me feel less alone perhaps. But a really astounding read.

Thanks to NetGalley for ARC in exchange of honest review.
Erin Logan
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I knocked this one down in two days. As a technical Millennial woman who feels I much more identify with GenX, this book really spoke to my soul. I needed this. This was definitely the right book at the right time for me.
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Parts of it made me angry. It is all about how Gen X women have it worse than women of any other generation, which is of course BS. If she had just focused on our challenges and not tried to make it a who had worst contest, it would have been great book. The challenges and differences were on point, but when she says - "and that's why ours is worse", I wanted to throw the book across the room.
Also, it was very white hetero upper middle class centric, and the lack of understanding of diverse
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading Why We Can't Sleep by Ada Calhoun felt like I was reading a biography of my own life. The main premise of the book examines that current life trajectories of women from Generation X (born 1965-1980). Women in Generation X are the first to deal with new expectations, due to the great strides achieved by women of earlier generations. For example, the ability to work outside the home and have children was normalized, but for Gen X women the expectation is that we WILL do both. As Calhoun so ...more
Nov 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
OUT TODAY, thanks to Grove Press and NetGalley for the ARC! I found Ada Calhoun’s Why We Can't Sleep highly readable and valuable as a Millennial woman. This nonfiction examination of Gen X women's experiences with aging and managing their middle-aged years was incredibly interesting. I found myself unable to put it down, perhaps because I craved a fuller (and more honest) understanding of real women's experiences. Calhoun's writing was engaging and entertaining, and she covers a good range of ...more
I'm dating myself by putting this on my to-read list, aren't I? (c;
4.5 stars

I took my time reading this book because I wanted to think about each of the chapters as I read them. When I requested this ARC, it was the title that caught my eye, because I don't sleep. So I thought it was going to be some sort of self-help book that might help me sleep better. But it turns out it's about the different generations (boomers, gen-x, millenials, etc.) and in particular about gen-x women and why life seems to be such a struggle that we don't ever rest or feel like we can
Dec 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ada Calhoun's "Why We Can't Sleep" offers several comforting ideas for Generation X women: We aren't alone, we aren't crazy, we really are dealing with a lot, and most importantly, somebody is noticing us! Generation X (roughly, born between 1965-1980) is a smaller cohort than either the Boomers who preceded us or the Millennials who came after us. However, we are entering middle age, and that is bringing us all many challenges. Calhoun interviewed Gen X women with a variety of life experiences. ...more
3.5 I found this book to be thought provoking but also frustrating. The author takes a very surface-level approach to visiting Gen-Xers. I wanted more in-depth details about the women she interviewed. It’s also overwhelmingly about heterosexual women, to the point where I became distracted, wondering if we’d hear any stories about queer women. There was one, specifically. I suppose one could argue that this is not a necessarily relevant distinction, but it felt like a big missing piece to me. ...more
Emily Banks
Rounding down. I nodded my head a lot and related to so much but it didn’t go beyond that. It’s a list of “here’s why we’re anxious and depressed” which, shockingly, only served to make me feel more anxious and depressed.
Emily K.
Jan 09, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a dud. I can't help but feel like it would benefit from more historical, political, and economic context. Her "research" is largely anecdotal, from a sample population of ~200 women. It makes arguments like Gen X's experience of the challenger explosion contributes to them being helicopter parents, millenials are happier because they had Elmo. It wants to argue that the specificity of middle class Gen X misery is somehow more unique than the misery of anyone else in the year of our ...more
Clare Marshall
Eh. This book was kind of interesting but mostly just depressing. The author shares research and stories of Gen X women about why they are so unhappy. Basically Gen X women have told they could have it all and spoiler: they can’t. Everyone is stressed out and hates their lives. The book seemed light on actual research and felt overwhelming anecdotal. There’s also no fix given at the end. The same “bandaids” the author complains about in the beginning (get more fresh air, look on the bright side) ...more
Nichola Gutgold
A bit too whiny for my tastes, but the author makes many good points about why today’s Gen X woman is overwhelmed. She quickly concludes on an optimistic note after bringing the reader through hundreds of negative pages. I don’t highly recommend but if you’re into these kinds of books about the current state of women, I recommend you read it. I don’t completely agree with her, but that might be the optimist in me.
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So you know that feeling you have after a great night out with female friends where you consume several bottles of wine and realize it isn’t just you, you aren’t alone/crazy/failing. This book offers all that —without the hangover.

I rarely give 5 stars - but I so unexpectedly enjoyed this book —I just had to. I thought I was reading a self help sleep book 2 friends recommended- something I didn’t need. What I got was a life affirming book that helped put so much in perspective. I am not a fan
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Award-winning journalist Ada Calhoun is the author of the NYC history St. Marks Is Dead, chosen by Kirkus and the Boston Globe as one of the best books of 2015; the essay collection Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give, named by W magazine one of the best 10 memoirs of 2017; and Why We Can't Sleep: Women's New Midlife Crisis, coming out January, 7, 2020.
“One of the main problems in making dreams come true? They cost money.” 3 likes
“We kept hearing again and again that we could be anything we wanted to be. We had supportive mothers insisting we would accomplish more than they had. Title IX made sure our after-school classes were as good as the boys’. We saw women on television who had families and fun careers. So, if we happened to fail, why was that? The only thing left to blame was ourselves.” 2 likes
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