The best books about getting older with style and panache

Who am I?

I’ve been a columnist in a national magazine, book reviewer on a daily newspaper, journalist on a small rural paper, commercial blogger for hire, copy-editor, and critiquer, usually alongside more conventional roles in the not entirely thrilling world of corporate finance. In my fifties, I took a belated gap year courtesy of a good redundancy package and started writing full-time under a couple of different names, mainly EJ Lamprey but here as Clarissa. The gap year never really ended . . . At the heart of all my books is the exuberant celebration of finding in autumn the best season of our lives.


I wrote...

The Christmas Caper

By E.J. Lamprey,

Book cover of The Christmas Caper

What is my book about?

Being pretty much retired, well-off, active, lively, sociable, a frequent traveler, and based at an age-friendly community for similar free spirits in lovely Scotland, had been great for Edge and her friends: and then along came Covid19. After months of Katryn's draconian restrictions, with Christmas 2020 closing in, it wasn't surprising that boredom was driving the neighbors nuts. Are they imagining things, though, or was there really something off-kilter at Grasshopper Lawns?

The books I picked & why

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How You Stand, How You Move, How You Live: Learning the Alexander Technique to Explore Your Mind-Body Connection and Achieve Self-Mastery

By Missy Vineyard,

Book cover of How You Stand, How You Move, How You Live: Learning the Alexander Technique to Explore Your Mind-Body Connection and Achieve Self-Mastery

Why this book?

I actually believe the Alexander technique should be taught in schools from the start, to become a lifelong habit to improve lifelong health, but it’s never too late to start. While there’s no denying it is best taught hands-on, there aren’t enough teachers out there. There are many books but this one has a lovely holistic approach. Even better, if you’re lucky enough to have a practitioner within reach, the book adds to your understanding and to the benefit of your sessions. Win, win.  


How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won't Get from Your Financial Advisor

By Ernie J. Zelinski,

Book cover of How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won't Get from Your Financial Advisor

Why this book?

We live in expensive times, our lives could last longer than expected after our earning years have ended:  hands up anyone who has had the 3 am heebie-jeebies about a future in which one is very old and impoverished. We’ll never be able to retire . . . the huge charm of this book, for me, is the emphasis is less on storing away pennies than on embracing the future, and while I’ll grant he says that perhaps a little too often, sometimes you do have to catch people’s attention. There are no miraculous solutions, but there’s good advice and a very wholesome shift in attitude to take on board.  


Before the Coffee Gets Cold

By Toshikazu Kawaguchi,

Book cover of Before the Coffee Gets Cold

Why this book?

There are some offbeat reasons I picked this book, and one is that if you’re around the Indian Summer age you might have got into a reading rut, and it’s an intriguing rut-breaker, nicely translated but evoking a different world and way of thinking. The main reason, though, is, indirectly, baggage, the releasing of. The premise of the novel allows patrons of the café to go back in time to a previous meeting, and say what they wish they’d said at the time. It won’t change events, and they can stay only until their coffee in real time gets cold. As a perspective twister, it’s unique.  


Old Age Comes at a Bad Time: Wit and Wisdom for the Young at Heart

By Eliakim Katz (editor),

Book cover of Old Age Comes at a Bad Time: Wit and Wisdom for the Young at Heart

Why this book?

It’s a little book of quotes, the sort of book you could keep in the guest loo (if you don’t mind losing your guests for half an hour), but it is stuffed full of oomph and I’ve carted it with me through three migrations because it has been giving me quotes, when I needed something pithy and to the point, for thirty years. I really hope it is still in print because nobody’s getting their hands on my copy. Relevance to my theme? Picked at random – “the first forty years of life gives us the text, the next thirty years supply the commentary” (Arthur Schopenhauer). “If I had my life to live again, I’d make the same mistakes – only sooner”. (Tallulah Bankhead)   


Dave Barry Turns 50

By Dave Barry,

Book cover of Dave Barry Turns 50

Why this book?

We’ve outgrown vaulting over five-barred gates, running up mountains, drinking all night, and springing bright-eyed from our beds, and so what? For anyone in denial, or clinging stubbornly to youth, Dave is the Baby Boomer to point out the stark realities. He’s funny but he’s ruthless. Fifty’s not the new thirty. It’s fifty. The reason I recommend it is that it can be hard to let go and you’ll waste precious autumn if you don’t accept the inevitable, and move on with a spring in your step into what I have found to be the best period of all. Laughing helps. Laughing always helps.  


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in magical realism, ageing, and surrealism?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about magical realism, ageing, and surrealism.

Magical Realism Explore 98 books about magical realism
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Surrealism Explore 54 books about surrealism

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like A Christmas Carol, The Woman Warrior, and Piranesi if you like this list.