The best books about aging well and flourishing as you age

Katharine Esty Author Of Eightysomethings: A Practical Guide to Letting Go, Aging Well, and Finding Unexpected Happiness
By Katharine Esty

Who am I?

When I turned 80, I was in a bit of a funk until I began interviewing people in their eighties for my book. I was astonished to find how happy the vast majority of them were and what active and exciting their lives were leading. I realized that life after 70 and 80 was not the same today as in the past. As a psychotherapist, a social psychologist, a writer, a mother of four, and a grandmother of 10, I realized I was the perfect person to write about this good news. And for the last 8 years my mission has been to spread the word about aging today.

I wrote...

Eightysomethings: A Practical Guide to Letting Go, Aging Well, and Finding Unexpected Happiness

By Katharine Esty,

Book cover of Eightysomethings: A Practical Guide to Letting Go, Aging Well, and Finding Unexpected Happiness

What is my book about?

This well-researched and thoughtful book is a roadmap for everyone in the over 70 generations for those all those with older parents and grandparents. The book is highly personal and filled with Katharine’s experience-based wisdom. Her interviews with a diverse group of people in their eighties sing with emotional authenticity. They give you a glimpse of what life is really like as you age and how to navigate the challenges you will meet. Chapters in the book focus on topics such as survival skills, love and sex, friendship, grandchildren, caretaking, coping styles, transitions, and letting go. The Conversations Starters in every chapter are helpful for both adult children and older parents to talk about difficult subjects.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Breaking the Age Code: How Your Beliefs About Aging Determine How Long and Well You Live

Why did I love this book?

This user-friendly book is filled with stunning scientific insights about aging well. Levy’s research found that people who have positive beliefs about aging live 7.5 years longer than others and that our thinking influences our health and how well we live. I particularly like the section where she presents facts that debunk negative stereotypes about older people that still persist despite being. This is a good read that will change you, too. Becca Levy is a professor at Yale University and an expert on aging.

By Becca Levy,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Breaking the Age Code as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Yale professor and leading expert on the psychology of successful aging, Dr. Becca Levy, draws on her ground-breaking research to show how age beliefs can be improved so they benefit all aspects of the aging process, including the way genes operate and the extension of life expectancy by 7.5 years.

The often-surprising results of Levy’s science offer stunning revelations about the mind-body connection. She demonstrates that many health problems formerly considered to be entirely due to the aging process, such as memory loss, hearing decline, and cardiovascular events, are instead influenced by the negative age beliefs that dominate in the…

Book cover of Aging with Wisdom: Reflections, Stories and Teachings

Why did I love this book?

This book is a collection of reflections, stories, teachings, and poetry from a wide variety of writers from many perspectives. The theme of the book is that the older decades are a wonderful time to explore the mysteries of life, our spirituality, and our inner worlds. Hoblizelle also shares engaging stories from her own life. This is the kind of book you will keep by your bedside and that you will read slowly, savoring each gem and reflecting on its wisdom.

By Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Aging with Wisdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How do we find beauty and meaning in old age? How do we overturn the paradigm of ageism? How do we age consciously and cultivate an inner life resilient enough to withstand the vicissitudes of old age? An extended meditation on how to age consciously and embrace life in all its fullness and wonder, Aging with Wisdom answers these questions.

Book cover of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism

Why did I love this book?

Ashton Applewhite, an expert on ageism, shows how most of us have internalized negative images of old age and we have also misproven stereotypes of older people go unchallenged. This book opened my eyes to my own ageism and how it limited me and it book will probably open your eyes as well. The book is lively and full of interesting facts as well as solidly researched. I found Applebaum’s vision of a world without ageism to be inspirational.

By Ashton Applewhite,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked This Chair Rocks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Author, activist, and TED speaker Ashton Applewhite has written a rousing manifesto calling for an end to discrimination and prejudice on the basis of age.

In our youth obsessed culture, we’re bombarded by media images and messages about the despairs and declines of our later years. Beauty and pharmaceutical companies work overtime to convince people to purchase products that will retain their youthful appearance and vitality. Wrinkles are embarrassing. Gray hair should be colored and bald heads covered with implants. Older minds and bodies are too frail to keep up with the pace of the modern working world and olders…

Book cover of Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life

Why did I love this book?

Louise Aronson was a practicing physician who worked primarily with older patients before becoming a social critic. Now she focuses on ageism in our medical institutions and well as society in general. Her book, Elderhood, is a penetrating analysis of what it means to be older in the US and a critique of the anti-aging culture we live in. Her book is filled with her own observations and stories that show the reader what needs to change in our culture and institutions. Her model of the three stages of life—childhood, adulthood, and elderhood intrigued me.

By Louise Aronson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction
Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction
Winner of the WSU AOS Bonner Book Award

The New York Times bestseller from physician and award-winning writer Louise Aronson--an essential, empathetic look at a vital but often disparaged stage of life, as revelatory as Atul Gawande's Being Mortal.

For more than 5,000 years, "old" has been defined as beginning between the ages of 60 and 70. That means most people alive today will spend more years in elderhood than in childhood, and many will be elders for 40 years or more.…

Book cover of Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Why did I love this book?

This book helped me as my husband was dying. In the US today we have come to see aging issues as primarily needing a medical solution. But as a psychologist, I know aging involves far more than that. To live well to our very last days we need lives with purpose and loving relationships as well as good healthcare and financial security. Gawande's research and riveting stories show how many doctors avoid confronting the realities of the end of life issues. He points the way to a more honest, courageous, and humane approach for professionals and families, too. Everyone should read this book.

By Atul Gawande,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Being Mortal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?




For most of human history, death was a common, ever-present possibility. It didn't matter whether you were five or fifty - every day was a roll of the dice. But now, as medical advances push the boundaries of survival further each year, we have become increasingly detached from the reality of being mortal. So here is a book about the modern experience of mortality - about what it's…

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Interested in ageing, spirituality, and quality of life?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about ageing, spirituality, and quality of life.

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