40 Books to Read in My 40th Year

My 40th birthday is two weeks away and I’m experiencing some (okay a lot) of anxiety about aging: My metabolism has slowed to a crawl, and I’m seeing my mother in the mirror more often. There’s a vanity component, I guess, but it’s definitely a mortality issue more than anything.

About 6 months ago, I had the realization that I am now as close to 60 as I am to 20. It hit me with physical force and left me reeling for months. I still haven’t fully come to terms with no longer being a thirty-something.

I’ve planned what for me is a super indulgent vacation and I’m working on transitioning to a more celebratory approach to the big four-oh.



Looking at the new decade in front of me is still a bit overwhelming, so I’ve decided to approach it one year at a time for now. This first year of my forties is a chance to re-evalutae my bucket list, and dig my heels in to goals I’ve left hanging for years.

Last year I crossed a item off my Bucket List by visiting the Sip & Dip Lounge in Great Falls, MT. I welcomed the final year of my thirties there, celebrating with husband and some close friends.

sip and dip mermaid bar bucket list
With my bestie Allie at The Sip & Dip Lounge in Great Falls, MT


While I know I will always have an endless TBR List, I’ve started by examining my book shelves and Wish Lists. I’m looking at books I’ve put off for too long, and ones that have potential to inspire me the most, along with books that have been recommended to me frequently, and by people who love me.

I’ve come up with a list of forty books from just about every genre and subject. I plan to make these a priority in my reading over the next year.

Maybe it’s cheesy, but I’m going with it. So here they are in no particular order…


40 Books to Read in My 40th Year


The Sun Also RisesErnest Hemingway

Bad Science – Ben Goldacre

Lab Girl – Hope Jahren

Son of the Circus – John Irving

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Living in the Age of Accelerations – Thomas L. Friedman

Women, Food, and God – Geneen Roth

A Year by the Sea – Joan Anderson

The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek – Howard Markel

The View From the Cheap Seats – Neil Gaiman

The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less – Barry Schwartz

Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength – Roy F. Baumeister & John Tierney

Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlosser

The Empathy Exams – Leslie Jamison

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain

Love the House You’re In” 40 Ways to Improve Your Home and Change Your Life – Paige Rien

Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying “Yes” to LivingTim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle

Vinegar Hill – A. Manette Ansay

The Princess Saves Herself in This One – Amanda Lovelace

DIY MFA – Gabriela Pereira

I Don’t Have to Make Everything All Better – Gary & Joy Lundberg

Taft – Ann Patchett

The Round House – Louise Erdrich

Don Quioxte – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

I’ll Be Your Blue Sky – Marisa de Los Santos

The Healthy Writer – Joanna Penn & Dr. Euan Lawson

A Long Fatal Love Chase – Louisa May Alcott

Reservation Blues – Sherman Alexie

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

The Opposite of Fate – Amy Tan

TrainwreckSady Doyle

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck – Mark Manson

Belonging – Toko-pa Turner

The Miseducation of Cameron Post – Emily M. Danforth

Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It – Various Authors

Pigs in Heaven – Barbara Kingsolver

Travels With Charley – John Steinbeck

The Sparrow – Mary Doria Russell

A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway

Did You Ever Have a Family – Bill Clegg

10% Happier – Dan Harris

Since I get through far more than forty books in a year, this gives me the space to fit in plenty of other reads for my various clubs, challenges, and enjoyment.

books cake 40s birthday women reading
My 38th Birthday cake


Already, the act of working on this has provided me with some comfort as I approach a new decade of life. My list reminds me there is still so much out in the world for me. It says something about who I am and where I want to grow, what I enjoy, and what my priorities are.

What do you think of my list, and which books would be on your own?



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