There is wisdom and freedom that comes with turning 40. These books usher in the decade where a woman can forgive, walk confidently, and brave new terrain all at once.

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

Comedian Amy Poehler will make you both laugh and reflect in this collection of advice, stories, photographs, and lists. Amy shares pivotal moments from her career and advice based on her journey to success. She provides guidance with wit, comedy, and honesty.

In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney

This book brings together a 100 of the most influential and inspiring women of our time and explores the various ways in which they overcame adversity and created worldwide change.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

In this inspiring and mesmerizing memoir, Michelle Obama takes us through the moments in her life that made her the woman she became. From her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to becoming First Lady, she delivers an honest account of her triumphs and setbacks. Her story is an inspiration and lesson in becoming your true self and defying expectations.

You are a Badass by Jen Sincero

Through hilarious stories, exercises, and words of wisdom, success coach Jen Sincero helps readers learn how to live doubt-free and embrace their inner greatness. Sincero will help readers learn how to change your self-sabotaging beliefs, how to start living your best life now, and how to start making money!

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

In this set of essays, Roxane Gay reflects on culture and on growing up as a woman of color. What results is an unforgettable portrait of one woman’s journey to understanding herself, our society, and our culture.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

In The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion shares with readers an intimate story about life, illness, and loss. In December 2003, Joan’s only daughter, Quintana, fell ill and was soon put on life support. Days later, after visiting their daughter in the hospital and sitting down to dinner, Joan’s husband suddenly had a massive and fatal coronary. Reflecting on her memories and how her ideas on death and illness have changes since these events, this memoir is an unforgettable read about life.

Gravel on the Side of the Road: True stories from a broad who has been there by Kris Radish

The essays in Kris Radish’s newest non-fiction read will have you laughing from beginning to end. Radish has had more than her fair share of life experiences. In Gravel on the Side of the Road, she lets readers into her crazy world of friendly murderers and near-death moments as she tells her stories with deep emotion and complete honesty.

Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippett

Pulling excerpts from her popular NPR show, Krista Tippett’s Becoming Wise tackles how to live well in an imperfect world. Including sage words of advice and inspiration from her diverse roster of radio guests as well as tidbits from her own life, this book encourages readers to live their most fulfilling life. Centered around five themes – words, flesh, love, faith and hope – she explores how each affects us.

Beautiful Affliction by Lene Fogelberg

Beautiful Affliction: A Memoir by Lene Fogelberg

Before being officially diagnosed with a fatal congenital heart disease, Lene Fogelberg knew that something was wrong with her even if the doctors in Sweden didn’t believe her. When she and her family move to the United States, she’ll learn the truth about her health and will do anything she has to in order to save her own life and continue living for those she loves. 

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

One of Reese Witherspoon’s book club picks, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage follows Ann Patchett’s life from childhood to marriage and through her years of writing. A blend of memoir and literature, this book reminds us of the importance of family, friends and devotion to the things you’re most passionate about.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

After losing her mother and dealing with a divorce, Cheryl Strayed needed a break from the pressures of her everyday life. Embarking on a life-changing hiking trip alone, Cheryl set out on a trip that would ultimately change her view on life and put the pieces of her broken heart back together again.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön

This collection of wisdom and advice from Pema Chödrön will give hope to readers who are going through a difficult time. Full of ways to deal with chaotic situations, advice about how to use harrowing emotions to your advantage, and methods to create social change, When Things Fall Apart is the perfect read for any woman in her 40s who may be facing a roadblock in life.  

The Wisdom of Sundays: Life Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations by Oprah Winfrey

Oprah brings enlightenment to audiences everywhere in this non-fiction read chock full of advice and inspiration from some of today’s greatest thought-leaders. The life lessons from Shonda Rhimes, Tony Robbins, Elizabeth Gilbert and other influential people will teach you a few new things and provide a relatable insight on life and love.  

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist

Looking for meaning in her life, Shauna Niequist takes readers along with her on her quest to find her true self again. Removing everyday titles like mother, wife and writer, she encourages her audience to take a step back and simplify life. Told through a collection of essays, Present Over Perfect teaches readers the way to take back their lives.

Why Won’t You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts by Harriet Lerner, Ph.D.

By the time you reach your 40s, there’s no debating that you’ve experienced a fair amount of betrayal and hurt. Why Won’t You Apologize delves into the importance of a simple apology and the emotions behind forgiveness. Abandoning the idea that forgiveness is the only way to getting your life back on track, Lerner gives readers a guide to setting things right again.

The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington

In today’s world, sleep is often dismissed as unimportant and a waste of time. But Arianna Huffington argues that, in our busy and complicated times, we need sleep now more than ever. Presenting cutting-edge research and the science of sleep, Huffington explains to readers in simple and convincing terms that we are in the middle of a sleep deprivation crisis that has harmful effects on our health and relationships. She shows readers how taking part in the sleep revolution will transform their lives.

The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde provides a powerful and unforgettable account of her experience with breast cancer and mastectomy. The Cancer Journals is revolutionary for being one of the first texts to explore intimate topics related to women’s illness, such as body image, grappling with one’s identity, and grief that comes with physical loss. Lorde provides guidance by sharing her own story of resilience and courage.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

While on a city bus, Gretchen Rubin realized that she had been living her life all wrong. She was spending far too much time on things that don’t matter, and not focusing enough time on the things most important to her. Thus, her happiness project was born. Rubin decided to dedicate one year to exploring the latest research, science, and philosophy on the topic of happiness and to recreate her life according to what matters most.

Things I Should Have Told My Daughter by Pearl Cleage

Award-winning playwright and author Pearl Cleage reminisces on years of juggling her career, her roles of wife and mother, her life in politics, and other aspirations. Cleage takes readers back to her years before she became a successful author, years when she struggled to find her voice as a writer. Recounting her struggle to balance her life with ideas of feminism and self-fulfillment, Cleage’s story of success and finding herself is an inspiration.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby

In essays that range from hilarious to sobering, Samantha Irby reflects on adulthood. She shares memories from her childhood that impacted the adult she became as well as pivotal moments from her adult life in an effort to make sense of growing up and growing older. Readers can relate to her story of spreading the ashes of her estranged father and stories of awkward relationship encounters. What emerges is a portrait of someone coming to terms with a new sense of self as she leaves her past selves behind.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

What kind of woman were you before the world told you who to be? In Untamed, an intimate memoir and guide to self-discovery, Doyle tells the story of how one mother decided to finally start living – for her children, and for herself. By coming to peace with her body, honoring her heartbreak, and learning to set boundaries, Doyle is able to teach us how to be brave in the ways that mean the most to us.

The Body Liberation Project by Chrissy King

The Body Liberation Project examines a framework of connected systems of prejudice that influence diet culture and set harmful body and beauty standards. Chrissy King demonstrates the powerful concept of body liberation—a crucial step beyond body positivity and acceptance. Body liberation acknowledges that no one is free until everyone is free. King discusses the importance of finding strength and freedom within your body by discovering healthy habits that work for you, with the goal of understanding that we are so much more than how we appear.

Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age by Katherine May

It’s easy to feel trapped into the cycle of constant change—changing relationships, rolling news cycles, perpetual social media chatter all add up to an exhausting spin of depletion. Katherine May sets out to find what the cause is of her empty cup, foggy brain, and low moods by examining the ways we can balance the seismic changes of life around us with inner peace. Through warmth and humor, May invites us to reawaken the little child within by allowing wonder and awe back into our lives. Through the natural world, May explores the elements and the many ways the earth restores itself, inviting us to do the same by reconnecting with our environment.

Pleasure Activism by Adrienne Maree Brown

In Pleasure Activism, Brown highlights how engaging with politics and social justice issues can sometimes feel like work, but you can still feel good while doing so. Through a series of essays, Brown shows us how to make social justice the most pleasurable human experience, while honoring the Black feminist tradition.

Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience by Brené Brown

What does it mean to be human? This stunning book takes it’s readers on a journey while navigating through the eighty-seven emotions that make up the human experience. By providing the tools and necessary skills that are needed for meaningful connection, Brown shows how being courageous and authentic with your life can lead to a universe of new choices and second chances.

Glow in the F*cking Dark by Tara Schuster (2/28)

Unflinching and uplifting, Glow in the F*cking Dark is about healing and rediscovering yourself so that you may live life to the fullest. After losing her job and having to isolate during a global pandemic, Tara Schuster was not in a good place. Childhood traumas resurfaced, her purpose was lost, and she felt unbearably lonely. In this book, she describes one of the darkest times of her life and explains how she was able to reflect and reclaim her sense of self when all seemed lost. Amongst other things, she discusses how to acknowledge reactions to trauma and respond in healthier ways, how to discover the source of your anxiety, be one with your body, and find comfort through perspective. With useful and practical advice, Tara shares baby steps that will help those who may be in a dark place rediscover their spark.

(feature image courtesy of @cadence.cook)