Monday, February 24, 2020

Books about Aging: M through Z

It's time to split a post from 2012.

Each year since then, I've been reading a dozen or so titles related to aging and listing them in that prior post.

The original post "Books about Aging" expanded to ten screens of titles, so I decided to divide it.

The most recent adds in this half are Elizabeth Strout's Olive Again (2019) Review and  Mary Pipher's Women Rowing North (2019). Review

The book I revisit the most often is Richard Rohr's Falling Upward (2011). Review

They all have merit; they all have their intended audience. I hope that you find a good read for you from the titles below.

Books about Aging: M through Z

Friday, February 7, 2020

Olive, Again: Book Review

Published 15 October 2019.
Elizabeth Strout has extended Olive Kitteridge's life into another novel, Olive, Again (2019), and I am delighted.

Not all of the chapters focus on Olive, but we do learn more about her and her interactions with her love interest, Jack Kennison; her son, Christopher and his family; a couple of former students, including a famous poet; and a few of her age mates.

True to her character, Olive is cranky, cynical, and outspoken. She also displays compassion for people in her odd little way.

Her adventures move her and her associates into late life with many of its challenges:

loneliness, the oddities of remarriage in late life, the complexities of decades' long marriages, the conflict between expectations and realities, estranged adult children, dealing with hardships such as depression, illness, infidelities, and such.

As with Olive Kitteridge, some of the chapters focus on other residents of Crosby, Maine--some of whom are much younger than Olive. There are a significant number of characters in their teens, 20s and 30s. We get glimpse into the lives of an adolescent house cleaners, and young adults who are home health care nurses, and a very pregnant woman attending a baby shower.

Some of the most salient moments from this novel include the many times that people end up offering each other comfort and kindness even though they don't have a lot in common or they only have a tenuous connection.

“The way people can love those they barely know, and how abiding that love can be, even when — as in her own case — it was temporary."

Almost everyone is carrying a heavy burden, and most people feel alone and overwhelmed.  Nevertheless, there are moments of hope and grace that emerge from the pages of the book.

As a gerontologist, I was happy to see many of the characters as people in their 60s, 70s and 80s--people who were still capable of growth and development.


Olive Kittridge: Book Review
Books about Aging

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Elderhood: Book Review

Published 11 June 2019.
Geriatrician Louise Aronson published a book recently that serves as a great overview for the field of gerontology.

Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimaging Life was published on June 11, 2019.

My Goodreads Review

Aronson presents 464 pages of observations about the aging process and health care in the US.

Yes, she has a medical degree; however, her outlook on aging comes very much from a humanities standpoint.

Note: Aronson is one of the keynote speakers at the 13th Annual MAIA in Evansville, SW Indiana (off I-64 between St. Louis and Louisville) this August 2020. Check out the other keynotes, dates, etc. here.

First, her book is structured like a memoir. She does talk about aging; however, she also includes a lot of autobiographical detail in chronological order.

Second, her book discusses case studies in a way that foregrounds the qualitative elements of the human experience, such as relationships, emotions, values, bias, limited perspective.

By even making this observation about her vocation, Aronson declares her preference for the more philosophical side of medicine.

Third, her book brings in a lot of material from non-medical sources. She quotes from works of literature, philosophy, psychology and sociology.

For example, this is how she frames the way physicians choose a specialty:
"How doctors choose to spend their careers may depend in part on their tolerance for ambiguity and complexity, and their interest in questions that lend themselves as much to philosophy, psychology, and sociology as to science and statistics." (p. 159)

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

This Chair Rocks: Book Review

Published 15 March 2016.
Ashton Applewhite is a force to be reckoned with.

Author, speaker, and advocate, Applewhite has become renown over the last few years as a significant critic of ageism.

However, she does not merely tear down ageist policies, programs, policies, and attitudes.

Applewhite also describes in rich detail the ways age contains strength, wisdom, sexuality, fun, and creativity.

I have observed Applewhite's work over the last several years by watching her TedTalk, reading her blog, reading several interviews in major magazines and news outlets, following her on Twitter, and even meeting her after hearing her give a keynote address.

I finally sat down to read her book, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy 8th Blogoversary

Photo by postbear.
Today marks 8 years since I launched this blog, The Generation Above Me.

Happy Blogoversary to TGAM!


I started this blog as a way to record my online research, primarily for my own reference.

This blog's content reflect my interest in managing wellness at midlife while supporting people a generation above me.

Nevertheless, a few people have joined me.
Over the last eight years, The Generation Above Me has garnished over a million views of its 425 posts.  
Bias towards the Humanities

I do have a master's in gerontology, earned from 2010 to 2012. Most of my classmates had undergraduate degrees in nursing or social work. However, I have a bias towards the humanities.

This explains the heavy presence of book reviewsfilm reviews, and the occasional poem or folktale.

Why this bias towards the humanities? I taught college English for over three decades (composition, rhetoric, literature, linguistics). But I also lean into a the social sciences a bit. I am also interested in psychology, sociology, communications, education, religious studies.