Best books for empty nesters

Published Date: October 3, 2023

Senior woman reading on digital tablet at home.
Every time you move into a new stage of life, there are adjustments to make. Becoming an empty nester is no different. When the kids are grown and no longer living at home, you may find yourself with a lot more free time—and a lot of mixed emotions. When you reach this milestone, you may feel a sense of relief. You may feel excited to begin a new chapter. But at first, you may also feel some loneliness, grief or loss of control. Together, these emotions are called empty nest syndromeAs you join the ranks of the 22 million-plus empty nesters in the United States, let a good book be your guide. Check out our list of the best books about being an empty nester and start embracing your new lifestyle. 

For a good laugh 

1. My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space: The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman

By Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Scottoline SerritellaYou’ll find yourself laughing out loud while reading this book, written by a mother-daughter duo. My Nest Isn’t Empty is a humorous reflection on family life, with plenty of cameos from the hilarious family matriarch, Mother Mary. Read along as they spill family secrets while navigating their changing relationships. 

2. Text Me, Love Mom: Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest 

By Candace AllanThis witty book maintains its humor, even as the author writes earnestly about saying farewell to her children as they leave for college and to live abroad. Allan has a knack for writing beautifully about the conflicting feelings that are the hallmark of this transition, and readers may just come away from Text Me, Love Mom feeling like her family is their own. 

3. The Dog Stays in the Picture: How My Rescued Greyhound Helped Me Cope with My Empty Nest

By Susan MorseBoth hilarious and moving, this memoir tells the story of how an adopted retired racing greyhound threw a wrench in the author’s plans for her empty nest years — and how the dog ended up helping her through the transition. The Dog Stays in the Picture is the perfect read for dog-loving empty nesters. 

For reinvention

4. Finding Joy in the Empty Nest

By Jim BurnsInsightful family educator Jim Burns helps new empty nesters answer the question, “Now what?” Full of practical advice and endless encouragement, Finding Joy in the Empty Nest tackles topics like finances, finding your purpose and redefining the relationship with your kids. 

5. HappiNest: Finding Fulfillment When Your Kids Leave Home

By Judy HollandJournalist Judy Holland does a deep dive on the empty nest phase in this meticulously researched book, which pulls from over 300 interviews with psychologists, sociologists, parents and young adults. Happinest, peppered with Holland’s own experiences as a new empty nester, explores the biggest challenges you may face during this stage.

6. Going Gypsy: One Couple’s Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All

By David and Veronica James Awaken your wanderlust with this first-person account of an empty-nesting couple who said goodbye to the home where they raised their kids and hello to a nomadic RV adventure. Each author takes turns narrating chapters of Going Gypsy, with refreshing realizations on the importance of finding your post-childrearing identity. 

For good advice 

7. Walking on Eggshells: Navigating the Delicate Relationship Between Adult Children and Parents 

By Jane Isay Harnessing insights from interviews with parents and children from 25 to 70, author Jane Isay offers advice on how parents and newly grown children can stay connected, even as their relationship and roles evolve. Best of all, the interviews in Walking on Eggshells may make new empty nesters feel like they’re not alone. 

8. Empty Nest, Full Pockets

By Matt MelineThis phase of life is full of financial uncertainties, and financial coach Matt Meline’s book is the roadmap for figuring it all out. Topics in Empty Nest, Full Pockets include paying college tuition while still saving for retirement, reevaluating your financial priorities and living arrangements, and how to help positively impact your child’s financial future. 

9. Die with Zero: Getting All You Can from Your Money and Your Life

By Bill PerkinsThey say “you can’t take it with you,” and in this book, Bill Perkins explores making the most of your money and your life. Put simply, in Die with Zero he points out that it’s about living rich, not dying rich. Because empty nesters are entering a new phase of financial life, this book is a timely read for those planning for their golden years … while still wanting to enjoy the best things in life in the meantime. 

Pack your favorite book — it’s vacation time

Need a change of scenery as you embrace your new empty nest status? Consider a second home with Pacaso. Choose from luxurious vacation homes in crave-worthy vacation destinations and you’ll find the perfect place to devour a new book or two. As a co-owner of a Pacaso property, you’ll enjoy second home ownership for a fraction of the cost. We take care of the management and maintenance, and scheduling your trips is as easy as a few taps on our app. Pick your favorite destination and discover the very best way to live the empty nester life.

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Jen Lyons

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