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On Being 40(ish)' Confronts the Legendary Beast That is Middle Age

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On Being 40(ish)
Edited by Lindsey Mead
(Simon & Schuster)

The age of 40 is like a legendary beast that you never expect to meet. Yet everyone who is lucky enough to reach that birthday must grapple with the inevitable existential questions that it brings, along with the ever-encroaching awareness of mortality—one’s own and everyone else’s. How can time feel so long and yet so fleeting? What kind of lives do we want to live, and how do we live them while we can? 

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This anthology of well-written essays by women (plus two poems and a short comic) represent years of accumulated wisdom and growth. Over a dozen authors—including Meghan Daum, Kate Bolick, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Sloane Crosley, KJ Dell’Antonia, Julie Klam, Jena Schwartz, Sophfronia Scott, Allison Winn Scotch, Lee Woodruff, and Jill Kargman—share their soul-searching experiences of bonding, loss, relationships, achievement, personal development, painful events, and finding joy in the everyday. These essays are worth reading before you’re 40, too, because absorbing these authors’ insights might prepare you to cope with middle age. It’s unfortunate, however, that the compilation doesn’t include any trans women, which, in 2019, feels like a glaring omission. 4/5

By Renate Robertson

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On Being 40(ish) was released February 5, 2019. This article originally appeared in the March/April 2019 print edition of BUST MagazineSubscribe today!

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