We’re too deep into summer/early fall to call this list great books to take to the beach. Nonetheless, these are engaging reads.
You must, however, be a senior citizen to truly appreciate them. These aren’t mysteries, or sci fi, or romance. There is humor to be found in parts of many of them, which is good because we need to think of aging as an often-humorous activity if we’re going to survive it.
Here is my take on some books for seniors, by seniors:
Nearing 90 by Judith Viorst
Nearing 90 is a delightfully penned and whimsically illustrated book about Judith Viorst’s experiences of aging. She shares the complicated joys and everyday tribulations that await us at the age of ninety, all with a large dose of humor and an understanding that almost nothing in life should be taken too seriously. I enjoyed this book very much … as I did her others like Nearing 80, I’m too Young to be 70, and so on back to her 20’s. She is a very talented writer.
Elderhood: Redefining Medicine, Life, and Aging in America by Louise Aronson
In this book Louise Aronson, who is a medical professor at UC San Francisco, shares her experience with geriatric patients. She illustrates how painfully deep society goes in excluding and in failing the older population in terms of their medical needs. As one reviewer said, “Aronson’s deep empathy, hard-won knowledge, and vivid reportage makes for one of the best accounts around of the medical mistreatment of the old.”
Life Gets Better: The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Old by Wendy Lustbader
The collected stories in this book represent a realistic and hopeful look at growing older through real people (not fictional characters) who exist to prove a point – and that is: these might be the best years of our lives (a point I’ve been making in all my writing throughout the last decade!). For that reason, I eagerly gobbled up the tales of this wonderful group of seniors. I wish I’d known them personally! Seeing aging as negative creates more negativity like the ripples of a stone tossed in a pond. Being buoyed by real life experiences of respect, compassion, love, and hope among older members of our society creates more of the same for people – both young and old, family or complete strangers who are fortunate enough to know aging men and women. Even people in their thirties and forties can learn by the information in this book. They could have a view of the possible future for themselves.
Fierce With Age – Chasing God With Squirrels in Brooklyn by Carol Orsborn
In this memoir, Ms. Osborn shares her struggles and regrouping after a series of events that test her spirituality, health, personal passions, and her beliefs. It’s been said old age is when the true purpose of our existence makes itself known. This book eschews that premise as well.
Crones Don’t Whine – Concentrated Wisdom for Juicy Women by Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D.
Dr. Bolen shares thirteen qualities for women to cultivate – the first being ‘Crones Don’t Whine’ – that will increase life happiness. The book is small, and the text is light and funny in many places. Her advice is practical and much of what we’ve heard before. Nonetheless, this lighthearted manual is worth the quick read to improve our well-being and draw in friends and family. It’s sort of a “Don’t Sweet the Small Stuff” approach in a wise and honest sort of way. I loved it!