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4 Inspirational New Books About Aging, Loving, Reinvention and Living Well

Patricia Heaton, Al Roker, Bruce Feiler, Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue offer wisdom

spinner image four books on living well by al roker bruce feiler patricia heaton and marlo thomas with phil donahue
Getty/Hachette Go./Penguin Publishing Group/Simon & Schuster/HarperCollins/AARP

These four wonderful new books from respected authors and celebrities explore how to make the most of your relationships, your career and yourself. The common theme? It's never too late to transform your life.

What Makes a Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share With Us the Secrets to a Happy Life

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Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue

Blissfully married for 40 years, Marlo Thomas, 82, and Phil Donahue, 84, know something about happy unions. But when friends of theirs abruptly divorced after 28 years, they were shaken, so they decided to travel across the country to find out how other famous couples sustained their bonds. Packed with interviews and commentary, the book includes stories from Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, who explain how their marriage (now 31 years strong) survived after they lost everything in the Bernie Madoff investment scandal; Jesse Jackson, who talks about finding forgiveness after infidelity; and Ray Romano, who describes how he learned the importance of saying “I love you” out loud to his wife. They're loving portraits of couples who, no matter what, keep saying “I do."

Life Is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age

Bruce Feiler

When Feiler — best-selling author of The Secrets of Happy FamiliesThe Council of Dads and other books — was diagnosed with cancer, in 2008, then nearly went bankrupt, he began to rethink his life. He spent two years on a nationwide quest looking for answers from others (perhaps he ran into Marlo and Phil?) who'd faced a crisis or other disruption that became a pivotal moment for change in their lives, or what he calls a “lifequake.” Among those he met and was inspired by were a truck driver who became a nurse and a Wall Street trader who began to write romances after big upheavals. Feiler, 55, uses their compelling stories to support his premise that life isn't linear but, rather, offers many paths and opportunities for reinvention.

You Look So Much Better in Person: True Stories of Absurdity and Success

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Al Roker

Jovial Today show coanchor and Emmy Award winner Al Roker wants you to follow his lead by saying yes to everything in life. In his book, full of amusing stories from his 40 years in broadcasting, he is frank about his insecurities (“I’m terrible at socializing,” he admits) and the challenges he’s faced, including an emotional breakdown at work. He writes that such negative experiences have had a positive side: They’ve motived him toward self-improvement. Roker suggests that we’d all be happier if we looked at mishaps as opportunities and focused on the humor in everything, including our imperfections. (Available July 28)

Your Second Act: Inspiring Stories of Reinvention

Patricia Heaton

When Heaton, the star of Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle, turned 60, she began to wonder if she was too old and unskilled to embark on a new chapter, but she proved herself wrong by reinventing herself as the lead in the CBS sitcom Carol’s Second Act — and by writing this book. Heaton, now 62, describes her own transformations over the years but focuses most on stories of ordinary people, who explain their second acts in their own words. Among them is a woman who in her 50s turned her passion for pie baking into a successful business. Heaton follows each tale with the lessons it teaches, and encourages readers to explore their own passions: “When you think about your own life, is there something that you’ve shelved or set aside because of other obligations or priorities?” There’s no time like today. (Read an excerpt here.)

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