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12 Books to Read in Your 40s


Entering your 40s can be a daunting experience, but it is also the decade when many of us feel more confident than ever and achieve goals that were once unattainable. It is also a time when you can revel in the experience and knowledge you have learned. There is much to be positive about!

There are a lot of books available to help navigate through this period, covering topics like career, confidence, and self-development. Many of them are highly recommended, but it can be hard to find the hours in the day to read as much as you would like.

The Headway app provides 15-minute book summaries, daily insights, and visual explainers so you can grow on the go. It is now possible to focus on personal development during your busy everyday life and read books designed to help you get the most out of your 40s. This article lists 12 books everyone in their 40s should read.

Key points

  • Your 40s can be a daunting decade and can prove challenging emotionally and practically. This article recommends 12 of the best books to read to help you flourish in your 40s.

  • Our list contains books focused on various topics, such as work, confidence, and self-development.

  • Books on our list include Thrive by Arianna Huffington, Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg, Have a New Sex Life by Friday by Kevin Leman, and Deep Work by Cal Newport.

12 best books to read in your 40s

Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Happier Life by Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington is a co-founder of the news website The Huffington Post, making her one of the world’s most influential women. In Thrive, she questions and redefines what success means in the modern world. Huffington argues that the two traditional metrics people strive for in the search for success — power and money — are insufficient. The pursuit of these two metrics leads to stress-related illnesses and exhaustion. Therefore, a third metric of success is required, which the author argues should include our:

  • sense of wonder;

  • ability for giving and compassion;

  • capacity to use our inner wisdom and instinct;

  • well-being. 

Thrive is also an insight into Huffington’s personal difficulties with time management and balancing a career with raising children. Through her personal experience, groundbreaking research, and business acumen, she presents an opportunity to transform our lives and thrive in the success we strive for. 

If you are interested in exploring more books about happiness, check out our blog post on the best books about happiness.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Man’s Search for Meaning is a 1946 memoir by psychiatrist Viktor Frankl that details his experiences during World War II as a Nazi concentration camp prisoner. Frankl draws on his suffering as a prisoner and shares his lessons for spiritual survival. He explains that suffering is unavoidable, but we can control how to deal with it, find meaning in it, and carry on with a fresh purpose. 

Written by Frankl in his 40s, Man’s Search for Meaning is a hugely inspiring book about positivity, hope, and control. This memoir is a fantastic choice if you are looking for a book that will move and motivate you simultaneously. 

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss

Timothy Ferriss spent over half a decade learning the secrets of the New Rich, a fast-developing subculture with a new approach to a life plan that allows them to attain luxury lifestyles. The 4-Hour Workweek is a guidebook on how to work less, earn more, and enjoy more free time.

Among the many insights shared in this book are the following:

  • how to eliminate half of your work in two days;

  • the difference between relative and absolute income;

  • how to get highly-discounted airfare and free housing globally;

  • how to make a meaningful life.

 If you feel burnt out, stressed, or stagnant about your work, this is an excellent book to reimagine your professional and personal life. 

Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by BJ Fogg

Written by the world’s leading expert on habit formation, Tiny Habits illustrates how, through small changes, you can have a healthier, happier, and better life. For instance, if you want to practice mindfulness, begin with five deep breaths a day instead of jumping in at the deep end and trying an hour of meditation. Fogg reinforces that we should strive for quick wins. Readers can use his science-based approach to make simple and permanent changes. 

Tiny Habits argues that we can realize any goal as long as we follow Fogg’s behavior formula:

  • make it easy;

  • make it fit your life;

  • make it rewarding.

Fogg is a pioneering research psychologist who uses two decades of research and experience coaching tens of thousands of people. Tiny Habits is a great option if you seek a book to help achieve change in your life or become a happier person.

The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life Before 8AM by Hal Elrod

The Miracle Morning is one of the best-rated books in the world and is widely viewed as one of the most life-changing books of all time. It offers a simple and quick approach to forming the life you’ve always wanted. The book informs people how to transform their lives and wake up with more focus, motivation, and energy. The Miracle Morning helps you reach your greatest potential and live extraordinary lives. 

Hal Elrod details a six-step morning routine that uses Life S.A.V.E.R.S:

  • silence;

  • affirmations;

  • visualization;

  • exercise;

  • reading;

  • scribing. 

If you want to move your life up a notch, join millions of others transforming their lives with The Miracle Morning.

Don’t Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life by Anne Bogel

Anne Bogel wrote this book to assist anyone suffering from overthinking, constantly contemplating what-ifs, and being scared of making mistakes. The curse of overthinking can feel inescapable, but Bogel displays how it can be overcome and replaced with happiness and peace. 

Don’t Overthink It shows the reader how to switch negative thought patterns into positive ones and take back their life to focus on what truly matters. Through actionable tactics, you can make a fast and long-term difference in how you cope with thoughts, so you can spend less time worrying and more time enjoying your life.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz

Ben Horowitz is a highly-respected Silicon Valley entrepreneur and co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz. The Hard Thing About Hard Things draws on Horowitz’s experience as a successful and seasoned business owner. It presents advice and wisdom on how to solve the most challenging problems not taught in business school. Horowitz does not hold back on how difficult it is to run a business but offers practical strategies to make it more successful. 

The Hard Thing About Hard Things covers many issues, including:

  • if you should sell your business and how to do so;

  • firing or demoting a loyal friend;

  • if you should use promotions and titles, and how to deal with them;

  • if you should hire people from a friend’s business.

Horowitz’s guide is invaluable reading whether you are an established entrepreneur or just starting in business.

The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem: The Definitive Work on Self-Esteem by the Leading Pioneer in the Field by Nathaniel Branden

The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem is a study of human behavior and motivation. It is ideal for anyone who has even a vague curiosity about self-esteem, professionally or personally. The author explains why self-esteem is core to our positive relationships, happiness, accomplishment, and psychological health. 

‘The six pillars’ are six actionable practices for day-to-day life that comprise self-esteem, such as self-acceptance and self-responsibility. Branden also delves into the primary importance of self-esteem in five spheres:

  • the culture at large;

  • education;

  • parenting;

  • psychotherapy;

  • the workplace.

The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem also offers solid instructions for people responsible for developing other people’s self-esteem, such as therapists, parents, and managers. Self-esteem is central to our power, and this book will teach you how to achieve more.

Have a New Sex Life by Friday: Because Your Marriage Can’t Wait Until Monday by Kevin Leman

Trusted relationship expert Kevin Leman provides simple advice to improve your sex life in only five days. Have a New Sex Life by Friday explains the common woes of frustrated and bored couples having an unfulfilling sex life due to stress, parenting duties, and time. Leman helps people put the flame back in their sex lives and relationships by offering valuable insights, such as:

  • why men want sex;

  • why women need sex;

  • how to spice things up;

  • how to improve communication for a closer connection.

Have a New Sex Life by Friday provides practical tactics to obtain close intimacy and reclaim your sex life for the long haul. If things have gone a little stagnant in the bedroom, or you want to learn how to improve your sex life, reading Leman’s book is a no-brainer.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

In this Wall Street Journal Bestseller, we learn the skill of ‘deep work.’ The term was coined by author Cal Newport and is the capacity to concentrate without distraction on a cognitively challenging task. Newport argues that adopting this technique will allow you to do more in less time and be better at what you do. 

The modern world is a distracted one, preventing many of us from being focused. But Newport argues that forming and nurturing a deep work practice will be one of the best choices you can make. Deep Work also features a list of four rules for changing your habits and mind to foster the practice of deep work better. Add this book to your to-read list if you want to learn focused success, better time management, and increase your productivity. 

More Myself: A Journey by Alicia Keys and Michelle Burford

Alicia Keys is one of the world’s most celebrated musicians, and in this autobiography, she reveals the truth behind the artist. People’s pain and struggles are not always apparent when in the spotlight. Keys details her personal challenges, such as the expectations of female perfection, the complicated relationship with her father, and the lack of privacy with her romantic partners.

In More Myself, Alicia Keys explains how she spent years not seeing or appreciating her worth, explores who she is, and how to embrace that truth. This book is a journey of self-discovery and encourages readers to define themselves even though having a unique and true identity is typically discouraged by the world. 

Alicia Keys is a woman in her 40s and provides deep wisdom and inspiration for anyone who opens this book. Check out our blog article here if you want to explore more of the best autobiographies.

How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age by Dale Carnegie and associates

First published in 1936, the iconic publication on communication by Dale Carnegie — How to Win Friends and Influence People — has been updated and adapted for the digital age. The original book provided a straightforward approach and lessons to communicating that were adopted by millions of people. 

In this newer edition, Carnegie’s original strategies have been reimagined for our complex digital age. Even though we communicate more quickly and use different tools in the modern world, the advice provided in the original book still stands true today. If you want to learn how to lead, communicate, and work productively, then How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age should be on your wishlist.

View more book summaries with Headway

Your 40s can be a challenging decade. But, with the help of books like those listed in this article, you can grab the reins and enjoy these pivotal years. There are countless books available to help guide you through issues you may experience, such as with work, self-confidence, relationships, and time management. But, in this chaotic and fast-paced world, it can feel impossible to find the time to sit down and enjoy a book. If this sounds like you,  check out the Headway app.

Headway provides bite-sized learning so you can still work on self-growth and development even with a busy lifestyle. You can view 15-minute book summaries, personalized features, daily insights, and more. So if you are striving for growth but struggle to set aside the time, get the Headway app today.


Which book is best for life motivation?

Several books on our list are fantastic for life motivation. These include Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl, The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, and How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age by Dale Carnegie.

What to read when you feel hopeless?

Recommended reads on this list for when you feel hopeless include Thrive by Arianna Huffington, Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg, and More Myself by Alicia Keys.

How do you find a book I will enjoy?

Headway offers 15-minute book summaries so you can gain an overview and insight into many books. Our website also offers book lists to help with different facets of your life, such as business, well-being, and relationships. So browse Headway today and find your next read!

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