Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Books on Aging

Photo by Tourist on Earth
As a former college English teacher, I'm using my skill as a voracious reader to learn more about how I can make healthy lifestyle choices at midlife to increase my quality of life as I age.

I'm also learning more about late life--its challenges and its opportunities.

Here is my constantly expanding list (check back) with links to reviews.

Note: I am only including titles that I have actually read. 

Last updated April 2019 with . . .

Palmer's On the Brink of Everything. (2018) Review

Bolen's Crones Don't Whine. (2003) GR Review

Sigloh's Gracious Uncertainty: Faith in the Second Half of Life. (2017). Review

Pipher's Women Rowing North. (2019). Review

Do you have recommendations for me?  Note that I strongly prefer reading physical books over e-books because my comprehension is poor for e-books. It's even worse for audio.

I also write reviews of related books, grouped by theme:
The Full List

Ackerman, Diane (2001). One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, a Marriage and the Language of Healing.  Review

Agronin, Marc E. (2016). The Dementia Caregiver: A Guide to Caring for Someone with Alzheimer's Disease and Other Neurocognitive Disorders. GR Review

Agronin, Marc E. (2011). How We Age: A Doctor's Journey into the Heart of Growing Old.   GR Review and Blog Review.

This 2 minute video shows author Dr. Marc Agronin is an excerpt of a 2017 lecture. 

Albom, Mitch (1997). Tuesdays with Morrie.  Review

Altman, Nancy J. (2005). The Battle for Social Security: From FDR's Vision to Bush's Gamble. Review

Atchley, Robert C. & Amanda S. Barusch (2004). Social Forces & Aging: An Introduction to Social Gerontology. 10th EditionReview.

Atwood, Margaret (2016). Hag-seedGR Review and Blog Review

Barnes, Julian (2011). The Sense of an Ending. GR Review and  Blog Review

Beerman, Susan (2002). Eldercare 911. Review

Bell, Virginia and David Troxel (2012). A Dignified Life: The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer's Care.  GR Review and Blog Review

Berry, Wendell (1974). The Memory of Old Jack. GR Review and Blog Review.

Bernstein, David (2012). I've Got Some Good News and Some Bad News: You're Old: Tales of a Geriatrician. GR Review and Blog Review.

Bezich, Louis (2018). Crack the Code: 10 Proven Secrets that Motivate Healthy Behavior and Inspire Fulfillment in Men over 50. GR Review and  Blog Review

Bjorklund, Barbara R. (2011). The Journey of Adulthood. Review

Bolen, Jean Shinoda (2003). Crones Don't Whine. (2003) GR Review

Borrie, Cathie (2010).  The Long Hello. (2nd edition in 2015) GR Review and Blog Review

Burda, Angela N. (2010). Communication and Swallowing Changes in Healthy Adults.  Review

Butler, Katy (2013). Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death. GR Review and Blog Review.

Butler, Robert N. (1998). Aging and Mental Health: Positive Psychosocial And Biomedical Approaches. 5th Edition Review

Carpenter, Kyrie' (2017). Healing Dementia. Blog Review

Carella, Joe (2017). Creating Unlimited Options for Aging: The Path Forward Review

Carter, Jimmy (2015). A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety.  GR Review and  Blog Review

Carter, Jimmy (1998). The Virtues of Aging (1998). Review

Chast, Roz (2014). Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? GR Review and Blog Review

Chen, Pauline W.  (2007). Final Exam Review

Chittister, Joan. (2008). The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully. GR Review and Blog Review

Clark, Robert L. et al. (2004) The Economics of Aging. Review

Cohen, Ari Seth. (2012) Advanced Style.  Review.

Comer, Meryl. (2014). Slow Dancing with a Stranger. Review

Cooney, Eleanor. (2004). Death in Slow Motion. GR Review and Blog Review.

Cowley, Chris & Henry S. Lodge, M.D. (2004). Younger Next Year: A Guide to Living Like 50 until You're 80 and BeyondReview

Curran, Ruth. (2015). Being Brain Healthy: What My Recovery from Brain Injury Taught Me and How It Can Change Your Life.  GR Review and Blog Review

Dallas, Sandra. (2009). Prayers for Sale.  Review

Dalton-Bradford, Melissa (2014).  On Loss and Living Onward.   GR Review and Blog Review

Danticat, Edwidge (2017). The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story. GR Review and Blog Review

Dass, Ram (2000). Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying. GR Review and Blog Review

Davis, Nannette (2012). Caregiving Our Loved Ones: Stories & Strategies That Will Change Your Life. Review

DeGarmo, Susan (2014). Many Paws: The Years of Change. Blog Review

Didion, Joan (2007). The Year of Magical Thinking. Review

Doidge, Norman (2007). The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science. Review

Doidge, Norman (2015). The Brain's Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity. GR Review and Blog Review

Dosa, David (2010). Making Rounds with Oscar. Review

Egan, Kerry (2016).  On Living.  GR Review and Blog Review

Ehrenreich, Barbara (2018). Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, The Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer (2018). GR Review &  Blog Review

Ephron, Nora (2006).  I Feel Bad About My Neck. Review

Esmonde-White, Miranda. (2016). Forever Painless: End Chronic Pain and Reclaim Your Life in 30 Minutes a Day. Review

Farmer, Joyce. (2010). Special Exits: A Graphic Memoir Review

Ford, Richard. (2014).  Let Me Be Frank with You. Review

Freedman, Marc. (2011). The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife. Review

Freedman, Marc (2007). Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life.   Review

Friedan, Betty (1993). The Fountain of Age. Review

Gentile, Angela G (2015). Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide. GR Review  and Blog Review

Genova, Lisa (2007). Still Alice. Review

Goodman, Tanya Ward (2013). Leaving Tinkertown.  GR Review and Blog Review

Groopman, Jerome (2007). How Doctors Think. GR Review and Blog Review

Gross, Jane (2011). A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents--and Ourselves. Review

Guwande, Atul (2014). Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. GR Review and Blog Review.

Hall, Donald (2014). Essays after Eighty. GR Review and Blog Review.

Harding, Paul (2009). Tinkers.  GR Review and Blog Review

Haruf, Kent (2013). Benediction. GR Review and Blog Review

Haruf, Kent (2015). Our Souls at Night.  GR Review and Blog Review

Healey, Emma (2014). Elizabeth Is Missing. Review

Hoblitzelle, Olivia Ames (2017). Aging with Wisdom: Reflections, Stories and Teachings. GR Review and Blog Review

Hopkins, Christopher (2008). Staging Your Comeback: A Complete Beauty Revival for Women Over 45.   Review

Hudson, Robert B., Editor (2010). The New Politics of Old Age Policy. 2nd Edition. Review

Ignatieff, Michael (1993). Scar Tissue. GR Review and Blog Review

Jacobs, A.J. (2012). Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection. Review

Jamison, Kay Reed. (2009). Nothing Was the Same: A Memoir. GR Review and Blog Review

Kastenbaum, Robert J. (1997). Death, Society, and Human Experience. 10th Edition. Review

Kessler, Lauren (2007). Dancing with Rose: Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer's. Review

Koenig, Harold G. (2002). Purpose and Power in Retirement. Review

Kozol, Jonathan (2015). The Theft of Memory: Losing My Father One Day at a Time. GR Review and Blog Review

Kreamer, Anne (2007). Going Gray: What I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood. Review

Kuhn, William (2012). Mrs. Queen Takes the Train.  GR Review and Blog Review

Lee, Jean (2014). Alzheimer's Daughter: A Memoir.  GR Review

Leland, John (2018). Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a Year among the Oldest Olds. GR Review and Blog Review

Lemme, Barbara Hansen (1994). Development in Adulthood. Review

LePlante, Alice (2011).  Turn of Mind. Review

Levine, Suzanne Braun (2009). Fifty Is the New Fifty: Ten Life Lessons for Women in Second Adulthood. Review

Lewis, C.S. (1961). A Grief Observed. Review

Lockmyer, Ann-Marie (2018). When Their World Stops: An Essential Guide to Truly Help Anyone in Grief.  GR Review and Blog Review

Lynn, Joanne M.D., Joan Harrold, MD, & Janice Lynch Schuster, MFA. (2011). Handbook for Mortals: Guidance for People Facing Serious Illness. Second Edition. Review

Manger, William M. and Edward J. Rocella (2017). Life Longer, Live Better, Avoid the Risks. GR Review and Blog Review

McFarlane, Fiona (2013). The Night Guest. GR Review and Blog Review

McGettigan, Doreen M. (2016). The Stranger in My Recliner. GR Review and Blog Review

Miller, Sue. (2003). The Story of My Father. GR Review and Blog Review

Moore, Thomas (2017). Ageless Soul: The Lifelong Journey Toward Meaning and Joy. GR Review and Blog Review.

Moon, Elizabeth. (2003). Remnant Population. GR Review

Mosley, Walter (2010). The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey. Review

Mukherjee, Siddhartha (2010). Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. Review

Nearing, Helen (1995/1998). Light on Aging and DyingGR Review and Blog Review

Nuland, Sherwin B. (1995). How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final ChapterReview

Nuland. Sherwin B. (1998). How We Live. Review

Olson, Laura Katz (2001). Age Through Ethnic Lenses: Caring for the Elderly in a Multicultural Society. Review 

Palmer, Parker J. (2018). On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, & Getting Old. Review

Peck, Scott M. (2010). Denial of the Soul: Spiritual and Medical Perspectives on Euthanasia and Mortality. Review

Pipher, Mary (2019). Women Rowing North: Navigating Life's Currents and Flourishing as We Age. (2019). Blog Review

Plotkin, Bill (2007). Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World. Review

This video is not of Plotkin but of people influenced by his work.

Porter, Robin. Better with Age: Your Blueprint for Staying Smart, Strong, and Happy for Life. GR Review and Blog Review.

Quadagno, Jill (2010). Aging and the Life Course: An Introduction to Social Gerontology. Review

Qualls, Sara H. & Steven H. Zarit, Editors (2009). Aging Families and Caregiving. Review

Quindlen, Anna. (2012). Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake.  Review

Rabins, Peter V. (2005). Getting Old without Getting Anxious. Review

Reed, Donna M. (2009). Insiders Guide to Better Nursing Home Care: 75 Tips You Should Know. Review

Rentsch, Gail (2008). Smart Women Don't Retire--They Break Free; From Working Full Time to Living Full Time. Review

Robinson, Marilynn. (2006). Gilead. Review

Robinson, Marilynn. (2008). Home. Review

Rohr, Richard (2011).  Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.  Blog Review.

Rollin, Betty (1998). The Last Wish. Review

Rosofsky, Ira. (2009). Nasty, Brutish and Long: Adventures in Old Age and the World of Eldercare. Review

Russo, Francine. (2010). They're Your Parents Too!: How Siblings Can Survive Their Parents Aging Without Driving Each Other Crazy. Review

Sanders, Lisa (2009). Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis. Blog Review.

Sarton, May. (1997).  Coming into Eighty: Poems. GR Review and Blog Review

Saxon, Sue, Mary Etten & Dr. Elizabeth A. Perkins (2009). Physical Change and Aging: A Guide for the Helping Professions. 5th Edition. Review

Schachter-Shalomi, Zalman and Ronald S. Miller. (1995). From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Profound New Vision of Growing Older. GR Review and Blog Review

Schwalbe, Will. (2011). The End of Your Life Book Club. GR Review and Blog Review

Sciucco, Marianne.  (2013). Blue Hydrangeas: an Alzheimer's Love Story. Review

Shaw, Luci. (2014). Adventure of Ascent: Fieldnotes from a Lifelong Journey.  Review

Shafer, Stephania (2014).  9 Realities of Caring for an Elderly Parent. GR Review and  Blog Review

Sheehy, Gail (2010). Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence. Review

Sigloh, Jane (2017). Gracious Uncertainty: Faith in the Second Half of LifeReview

Simonson, Helen (2010) Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.  Review

Shin, Kyung-Sook (2011). Please Look After Mom. Review

Shaffer, Stephania (2014). 9 Realities of Caring for an Aging Parent (2014) by Stafanie Shaffer.  Review

Shouse, Deborah. (2013). Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver's Journey. Review.

Singh, Kathleen Dowling (2014). Grace in Aging: Awaken as You Grow OlderGR Review and Blog Review

Snowdon, David (2001). Aging with Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us about Leading Longer, Healthier and More Meaningful Lives. Review

Span, Paula (2009). When The Time Comes: Families with Aging Parents Share Their Struggles and Solutions. Review

Stettinius, Martha. Inside the Dementia Epidemic. (2012) GR Review and Blog Review

Strauch, Barbara (2010). The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind. Review

Strout, Elizabeth (2008). Olive Kitteridge. GR Review and Blog Review

Sundrom, Eric, Randy Burnham, & Michael Burnham (2007). My Next Phase: The Personality-Based Guide to Your Best Retirement.  Review

Tapia, Vicki. (2014) Somebody Stole My Iron: A Family Memoir of Dementia. Review

Taylor, Jill Bolte. (2006) My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey. Review

Tolstoy, Leo (1886). The Death of Ivan Ilych. Review

Thomas, William H. (2004). What Are Old People For?: How Elders Will Save the World. Review

Thomason, Sally P. (2006). The Living Spirit of the Crone: Turning Aging Inside Out. Review

Tindell, Charles (2003). The Enduring Human Spirit: Thought Provoking Stories on Caring for Our Elders. Review

Tyler, Anne. (2012). The Beginner's Goodbye. Review

Tyler, Anne. (2015). A Spool of Blue Thread. Review

Vesperi, Maria D.  (1986). City of Green Benches: Growing Old in a New Downtown. Review

Volandes, Angelo (2015). The Conversation. A Revolutionary Plan for End-of-Life Care  Review

Walker, Barbara G. (1988). The Crone: Woman of Age, Wisdom and Power. Review

Wallis, Velma. (1993). Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival. Review

Warraich, Haider. (2017). Modern Death: How Medicine Changed the End of Life. GR Review and Blog Review

Witchell, Alex (2012). All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother with Refreshments. GR Review and Blog Review

Zadoorian, Michael (2009). The Leisure Seeker: A Novel. GR Review and Blog Review

PS: Dr. Bill Thomas and his colleagues at Changing Aging have compiled this list of the Top 50 books on aging. No quackery, no illusions of holding on to youth. Just good information about meeting the challenges of aging with a focus on the positive.

PPS:  AARP posts this list of books about caregiving. Many appear in my list/reviews above, but I haven't read several of them. I need to get busy!


Films about Aging A-L
Strong, Smart Women Wrestling with Caregiving
Novels about Men Facing Death
Books about Dementia


  1. More suggestions: Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake: A Memoir by Anna Quindlen and The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry - both highly recommended!

  2. Suzi: Great titles. I haven't heard of Barry's book. I'll have to hunt down a copy. I just requested Quindlen's book from my local library. I'm #22 out of 34 people waiting for a copy. I hope that I can move up the list quickly. Thank you for pointing these out.

  3. Life Extension: Current and Future Possibilities. Golczewski JA, Sunbury Press; 2012 covers caloric restriction, diet, vitamins and minerals, recommended dietary supplements, questionable new supplements, major diseases and problems that typically occur with age, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, pain, depression, stress, loss of fitness, osteoporosis, dementia, arthritis, vision problems, cosmetic changes, etc. and how to avoid them.

  4. Great collection! Would you care to review our new book, launching Oct 18? About caregiving and successful aging, it is called "Hope I Don't Die Before I Get Old"-How to Survive Old Age, Your Own or Someone You Love, by Tracey Bowman and Mary Boone Wellington I would be pleased to send you a copy! Best regards, Mary Boone Wellington, co-author-mary@rosecottagenorth.com

  5. Readers of this group may be interested in my latest book on aging, _Life Extension: Current and Future Possibilities_, Golczewski, JA Sunbury Press, 2012. It discusses many issues not usually covered such as the ultimate limits to lifespan, and gives a number of tables to identify the properties of foods. Since findings change often in this field, updates will be given on my Web site. I worked in aging research for 30 years but am semi-retired now.
    James Golczewski, Ph.D.

  6. Hi all. I'm new to this forum, so it's not clesr to me how it's run. The comments aren't threaded, so how do I know if one is addressed to me or part of another thread? My background has been mainly in aging research and life-extension, so I assume that it's appropriate here. Any other comments are welcome.

  7. Would you consider my book "Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter's Memoir"? It won an honorable mention in the category of Life Stories from the 20th Annual Writer's Digest Book Awards, received glowing reviews from the Library Journal, Midwest Book Review and other major reviewers, and includes advance testimonials from Alzheimer's Disease International and a dozen other organizations and experts supporting people with dementia and their caregivers. More info at www.insidedementia.com. Thank you.

  8. Martha: As a grad student with no income, I'm pretty dependent on the public library (especially since I read about 70 books a year), and I don't see a copy of it here in Wichita. It looks good. If you want to mail me a review copy, I will read it with TLC and mail the copy back to you. My email address is on my blog. Thanks for checking out my post on books re: aging.

  9. Dear Karen,

    This TOTALLY is an AWESOME endeavor- and much appreciated by this Grand-Old-Person. I'll be letting our sage companions at WhiteHair365 know about this! Thanks so much for your time, energy and wisdom. I can see this unfolding into hours,days,weeks - maybe years of interesting possibility.

  10. What a great list! Thanks for sharing this with us.

  11. Great. Will surely get one of your books.

  12. Thank you very much for the 5-STAR review on Goodreads, Karen. I appreciate that my book is included on your list. - Angela G. Gentile, author of Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide.

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