The best fiction for aging friends and lovers

Randy Kraft Author Of Off Season
By Randy Kraft

Who am I?

I never liked children’s books, even as a child. I like words more than pictures and I always preferred literature that presents a more expansive view of the world. I favored myth, classics of urban sophistication, and stories about people whose lives were unknown or unfathomable. After nearly seventy years of reading, and as a writer and book reviewer, I now seek fiction that features the elders. Not just the shrewd witch or the wise auntie, but those still reaching for grand passions as well as grappling with the challenges of aging. In literature as in life, youth is often wasted on the young.

I wrote...

Off Season

By Randy Kraft,

Book cover of Off Season

What is my book about?

Do the bonds of a long marriage ever fully unravel? The passing of time and the perspective of age may alter the way we see each other. Then again, habits and patterns resist change. Sharon and Red, amicably estranged, agree to spend the winter together. She’s on sabbatical from a PhD track. He’s retired and seeking a respite from an illness. Soothed by sea breezes and ocean views, they encounter two couples, past and present, who personify the meaning of devotion, and a local who arouses late-life passions. Turns out, off season in relationships as well as the landscape is more than a breather – off season is a promise of renewal. Perhaps it’s not too late to consider a path beyond the past. Then, the winds of pandemic blow in.

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The books I picked & why

Fellowship Point

By Alice Elliott Dark,

Book cover of Fellowship Point

Why did I love this book?

Imagine a novel with 80-year-old female protagonists!

And what history these friends have at their classic waterside community. They’ve seen it all – lifelong relationships, betrayals, the bonds of a hard marriage, and the challenges of children. Their commitment to each other is the glue that binds.

I have few friends from early childhood, so I was especially touched by their ability to read each other so well, with that kind of radar unique to old friends, even as late-life challenges threaten to tear them apart. 

By Alice Elliott Dark,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Fellowship Point as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The masterful story of a lifelong friendship between two very different women with shared histories and buried secrets, tested in the twilight of their lives, set across the arc of the 20th century.

Celebrated children's book author Agnes Lee is determined to secure her legacy-to complete what she knows will be the final volume of her pseudonymously written Franklin Square novels; and even more consuming, to permanently protect the peninsula of majestic coast in Maine known as Fellowship Point. To donate the land to a trust, Agnes must convince shareholders to dissolve a generations-old partnership. And one of those shareholders…

The Wife

By Meg Wolitzer,

Book cover of The Wife

Why did I love this book?

Few novels exemplify the woman behind the successful man as powerfully as this one.

She’s the dutiful devoted wife to the successful writer-husband, and mother to a struggling son. You will sit on the edge of your seat as the history of their relationship unfolds, and with a surprise, but not unrealistic ending.

As a lifelong feminist, I was rooting for her, but I also understand what it means to want the best for those you love. No matter our age, women struggle with the balance. 

By Meg Wolitzer,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE WIFE is the story of the long and stormy marriage between a world-famous novelist, Joe Castleman, and his wife Joan and the secret they've kept for decades. The novel opens just as Joe is about to receive a prestigious international award, The Helsinki Prize, to honour his career as one of America's preeminent novelists of the Mailer-Bellow-Updike school. But this isn't a book for writers; it's a book for readers, for people who are interested in questions such as: Is there a 'male' voice and a 'female' voice? Do men and women see the world differently, and how? THE…

Olive Kitteridge

By Elizabeth Strout,

Book cover of Olive Kitteridge

Why did I love this book?

The Pulitzer-prize winner Olive Kitteridge is a novel told through connected stories, and the sequel is presented the same way.

She’s the character we love to hate and learn to love.

Anyone who has married the wrong man or treated a husband poorly, or attempted to control a child well into his own middle age, or finds herself confused by progress and also struggles with regret, will get Olive. Because we meet her in midlife, we evolve with her into old age, as if an interactive experience.

You'll want to age with Olive in the sequel, Olive Again. I also recommend Strout’s Lucy Barton quartet, which incorporates divorce into the aging process, but I think Olive is the more elegant and the more compelling portrait. [The HBO Olive Kitteridge series was a good translation, but better as a reading.]

By Elizabeth Strout,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Olive Kitteridge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • The beloved first novel featuring Olive Kitteridge, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Oprah’s Book Club pick Olive, Again
“Fiction lovers, remember this name: Olive Kitteridge. . . . You’ll never forget her.”—USA Today
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post Book World • USA Today • San Francisco Chronicle • Chicago Tribune • Seattle Post-Intelligencer • People • Entertainment Weekly • The Christian Science Monitor • The Plain Dealer • The Atlantic • Rocky Mountain News • Library Journal
At times stern, at…

Deacon King Kong

By James McBride,

Book cover of Deacon King Kong

Why did I love this book?

An inventive police-procedural set into a close-knit inner-city community, the heart of this page-turner are the quirky endearing characters of all ages.

I hung on every moment as they grappled with survival as well as clinging to the ties that bind, and I was reminded of my own upbringing in NYC. Whatever race or ethnicity or sexual identity or sexual orientation, and whatever paths we walk, time passes as we face our mortality.

Some of the dialogue here will have you laughing aloud, and fascinated with people you might otherwise never meet. 

By James McBride,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Deacon King Kong as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Brilliantly imagined, larger than life, a tragicomedic epic of intertwined lives.' JOYCE CAROL OATES

'Deeply felt, beautifully written and profoundly humane.' JUNOT DIAZ, New York Times Book Review

The year is 1969. In a housing project in south Brooklyn, a shambling old church deacon called Sportcoat shoots - for no apparent reason - the local drug-dealer who used to be part of the church's baseball team. The repercussions of that moment…

Elizabeth Is Missing

By Emma Healey,

Book cover of Elizabeth Is Missing

Why did I love this book?

This is one of those novels you think you know what is happening until you realize you do not – a psychological mystery that centers on the aging brain.

Maud is desperate to find her dear friend and also ward off what she believes is an opportunistic threat by her friend’s son. Told in first person, we experience first-hand the way in which elders are dismissed, their fears minimalized, and their capabilities understated.

The level of tension is gripping to the last page. I don’t want to spoil anything – prepare to be mesmerized

By Emma Healey,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Elizabeth Is Missing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


How do you solve a mystery when you can't remember the clues?

Maud is forgetful. She makes a cup of tea and doesn't remember to drink it. She goes to the shops and forgets why she went. Sometimes her home is unrecognizable - or her daughter Helen seems a total stranger.

But there's one thing Maud is sure of: her friend Elizabeth is missing. The note in her pocket tells her so. And no matter who tells her to stop going on about it, to leave it alone, to…

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