How to be a grown up: books to help you cope with mid-life


Before we started TWR, there was very little written help on what it was like moving from your 30s and 40s into ‘middle’ age, or what ever we’re calling that feeling of realising you are a proper grown up. Where we could have done with a manual to help us adjust our style, reign in our hormones and generally understand what the HECK was going on in our heads and hearts, there was tumbleweed. Now, nearly a decade on, we have a very respectable micro library of useful (and entertaining) books on what to look out for, indeed a bundle of these -nicely wrapped with fat velvet ribbon- would make an excellent present for anyone entering their 50th decade and beyond. Here’s the list…

I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts On Being a Woman by Nora Ephron

This came out just as we launched TWR and it’s still probably the funniest and wisest tome on getting older. Written by the late, great Nora Ephron, it’s worth re reading for the witty observations on all things to do with age. This is the first book you should read on turning 40.

In Your Prime: Older, Wiser, Happier by India Knight

India Knight has a knack of writing about stuff like she’s your wiser sister or best friend who, most importantly, seems to knows exactly the right thing to do. We’ve loved all her novels -including Mutton, which could also be added to the list if you are feeling generous, but this one will be properly useful on how to stay sane, happy and feel good about being a grown up. We wish she lived next door.

The Hormone Doctor by Leah Hardy and Susie Rogers
I wish I’d read this right at the beginning of my menopause, but since it was only written in 2014, I was nearly through mine by the time Leah and Susie explained, in easy to fathom terms, what was going on. You are not going mad or psychotic, it’s just  the menopause. Reading this book should be mandatory for all 40 years olds so you know what to watch out for.

Style Forever: How to Look Fabulous Every Age by Alyson Walsh and Advanced Style by Ari Seth Cohen

It was bloggers like Ari and Alyson (and us, obvs!) who first realised the massive gap in style help for women of 40 plus. Magazines and retailers weren’t talking to us so we started to talk to each other, reassuring our demographic that of course we could still be stylish, modern and completely fabulously dressed what ever our age. Both books bolster flagging confidences and helpfully point the way to stylish later years.

The Invisible Woman: Taking on the Vintage Years by Helen Walmsley-Johnson

I’ve just finished Helen’s book -which came out in June – and it inspired this post, as I immediately wanted to give it to someone in their early 40s to say ‘Look! this next bit can be challanging but it’s also great fun!” Reading this felt a bit like Helen sitting you down one evening at her kitchen table with a giant bottle of gin, possibly a packet of fags and a large box of kleenex, to cope with the tears of snorting laughter and full on sobbing, as she gallops through her mid-life story. Written in her funny and frank style it’s a joy and full of properly useful words of wisdom. Helen is another woman we’d very much like to have as our next door neighbour.



  • Ellen says:

    What a great list. Thanks for this. The only one I’ve read is the wonderful Nora Ephron.
    I will look for these others. I love Advanced Style – blog and movie. I saw one of the ladies who dresses almost like a work of art on the subway platform and felt like I was in the presence of a rock star, although I know her personal style is not for everyone.
    If only they could really find a cure for menopause, that would be super brilliant! Hot flashes in the NYC summer are not cute.

  • Amanda says:

    We live in hope Ellen, and fingers crossed you enjoy the rest of the books, we love -and miss- Nora too. Ax

  • Sarah says:

    Great recommendations there. Will download on to my Kindle for my hols, thank you.

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