The best books about old men

Who picked these books? Meet our 43 experts.

43 authors created a book list connected to old man, and here are their favorite old man books.
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What type of old man book?


The Old Man and the Sea

By Ernest Hemingway,

Book cover of The Old Man and the Sea

Peter Copley Author Of Fife's Tin Box

From the list on the lives of seafarers and the dangers of the sea.

Who am I?

Two events happened around the same time, 1950-51, that made me want to go to sea. One was seeing the movie Down to the Sea in Ships and the second was a 30-minute boat ride on the sea. I was about 9-years old at the time. I think I must have identified with the boy (Jed) in the novel and unlike my younger brother, I enjoyed the thrill of the wind and waves and I wasn’t seasick. From then on, I had a lifelong love of the sea, serving with the Merchant Navy, having my own seagoing boat and for 22 years teaching navigation and sailing knowledge to Sea Cadets. 

Peter's book list on the lives of seafarers and the dangers of the sea

Discover why each book is one of Peter's favorite books.

Why did Peter love this book?

I’ve read all of Ernest Hemingway’s books and although it is many years ago since I read The Old Man of the Sea (when I was a young man of the sea). One man alone in a boat on the wide ocean appeals to me as I have been in that situation myself on several occasions. My boat, a 28-foot motor/sailer, berthed in Fleetwood was my refuge from a troubled world. As a fire officer, I may have been involved with a motorway pile-up, cutting casualties out of wrecked vehicles, or a tragic house fire or simply dealing with bolshie firemen on my station. I would go to my boat, wait for the tide, sail out of the harbour alone, clear the shipping channels, drop the sails, make myself a coffee, sit outside on the deck, and unwind in the solitude of the sea.

By Ernest Hemingway,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Old Man and the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This powerful and dignified story about a Cuban fisherman's struggle with a great fish has the universal appeal of a struggle between man and the elements, the hunter with the hunted. It earned Hemingway the Nobel prize and has been made into an acclaimed film. Age 13+

Family Matters

By Rohinton Mistry,

Book cover of Family Matters

Thrity Umrigar Author Of Honor

From the list on set in Bombay.

Who am I?

I lived in Bombay until I was 21. During my teenage years I had a love-hate relationship with the city, mostly noticing its poverty, the pollution, and the crowds. But as a writer, I have come to love the city for its resilience, its sweet toughness, its heartbreaking beauty. I love reading books by other writers that are set in this endlessly fascinating metropolis of 22 million, each with their own story to tell, stories that float in the air in front of us, ready to be plucked and set on paper. 

Thrity's book list on set in Bombay

Discover why each book is one of Thrity's favorite books.

Why did Thrity love this book?

Rohinton Mistry’s masterwork Family Matters is as precise and delicate and realistic as Rushdie’s work is fantastical and flamboyant, a whisper instead of a shout. This book has a special resonance for me because the main characters are Parsi, a small, unique community in India, followers of the Zoroastrian faith that I was raised in. Mistry’s canvas is deceptively small and domestic—the squabbles of a family over caregiving and physical space—but this belies the emotional power of this moving novel. This is a 19th-century novel transposed to 21st-century India.

By Rohinton Mistry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Family Matters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rohinton Mistry’s enthralling novel is at once a domestic drama and an intently observed portrait of present-day Bombay in all its vitality and corruption. At the age of seventy-nine, Nariman Vakeel, already suffering from Parkinson’s disease, breaks an ankle and finds himself wholly dependent on his family. His step-children, Coomy and Jal, have a spacious apartment (in the inaptly named Chateau Felicity), but are too squeamish and resentful to tend to his physical needs.

Nariman must now turn to his younger daughter, Roxana, her husband, Yezad, and their two sons, who share a small, crowded home. Their decision will test…

Old Man's War

By John Scalzi,

Book cover of Old Man's War

Steven Decker Author Of Time Chain

From the list on sci-fi that generates emotion.

Who am I?

My love of reading was born on the day my 5th-grade teacher handed me a book of poetry; my “punishment” for throwing a spitball. I was to memorize “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” and recite it publicly the next day. I was mesmerized by the poem, because it drew a picture in my mind, and filled me with great emotion. As an 8th grader, I read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, for fun, then moved on to the great classics by Asimov and Heinlein. I wrote my first novel in 1988, but Time Chain is my first Sci-Fi novel, with more on the way. 

Steven's book list on sci-fi that generates emotion

Discover why each book is one of Steven's favorite books.

Why did Steven love this book?

I was moved from the opening lines of Old Man’s War. An ordinary man of 75 visits his wife’s grave, then joins the army. What? Oh yeah, now I understand. Mind uploading is integral to this book, first published in 2005, and it will soon be the rage in the real world of our near future. In Old Man’s War we experience mind uploading through the character, John Perry, and other new recruits. Then we fight. Perry becomes a war hero, and he crosses paths with his wife along the way. What? I thought she was dead? Oh yeah, now I understand. She was grown from Kathy Perry’s DNA, but she has no memory of John. Or does she? Military sci-fi adventure blooms into a love story? Wow, this could be a series. Oh, wait. It is! 

By John Scalzi,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Old Man's War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Perfect for an entry-level sci-fi reader and the ideal addition to a veteran fan’s collection, John Scalzi's Old Man’s War will take audiences on a heart-stopping adventure into the far corners of the universe.

John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army.

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce-and aliens willing to fight for them are common. The universe, it turns out, is a hostile place.

So: we fight. To defend…

Last Orders

By Graham Swift,

Book cover of Last Orders

Edward Dusinberre Author Of Distant Melodies: Music in Search of Home

From the list on loss and discovery.

Who am I?

For three decades I have been the first violinist of the Takács Quartet, performing concerts worldwide and based at the University of Colorado in Boulder. I love the ways in which books, like music, offer new and surprising elements at different stages of life, providing companionship alongside joys and sorrows. 

Edward's book list on loss and discovery

Discover why each book is one of Edward's favorite books.

Why did Edward love this book?

The adopted son and three friends of Jack Dodds set off on a day trip by car to the seaside to honor his last wish by disposing of his ashes. The story unfolds from the points of view of all the main characters: the reader learns of their ambitions, disappointments, secrets, and betrayals. Swift exposes the tensions inherent in grief that is both individual and shared. It is as if Jack’s death grants the mourners the clarity to understand their own lives as they fulfill his last order.

By Graham Swift,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Last Orders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


The classic edition of one of the 20th Century's finest novels

Four men once close to Jack Dodds, a London butcher, meet to carry out his peculiar last wish: to have his ashes scattered into the sea at Margate. For reasons best known to herself, Jack's widow, Amy, declines to join them . . . On the surface a simple tale of an increasingly bizarre day's outing, this Booker-prize winning, internationally acclaimed novel is a resonant and classic exploration of the complexity and courage of ordinary lives. Intensely local but overwhelmingly universal, faithful to…

Younger Next Year

By Christopher Crowley, Henry S. Lodge,

Book cover of Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy Until You're 80 and Beyond

Ed Zinkiewicz Author Of Retire to Play and Purpose: How to have an amazing time going forward

From the list on taking your retirement to a new level.

Who am I?

Some retirement choices start out as great adventures but stall. The RV loses its sheen or the cruises begin to look alike. Some retirees actually finish the infamous to-do list or tire of golf. Some people avoid retiring because they’ve heard of those failures! My goal is to help people find meaning and purpose in the activities they undertake in retirement and avoid any pitfalls. The books I’ve chosen here have helped give me a great platform to work from. I’ve discovered that if you can be curious, reach out in empathy, and be determined to keep at the search for joy and meaning, you’ll find that retirement adventure of play and purpose.

Ed's book list on taking your retirement to a new level

Discover why each book is one of Ed's favorite books.

Why did Ed love this book?

I was a professional couch-potato. I grew up with a clear choice: Use my head or use my feet. I ignored activity in my pursuit of more cerebral choices.

Despite the urgings of my loving family, the advice of others, and by-pass surgery, I continued my sedentary ways. It was only when I held my new grandson that I began to assess who I wanted to be as a role model.

Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge got me up off the couch and into activity. I have a better life because of their encouragement and detailed plans. 

You don’t have to be sedentary like me to appreciate this book. Turns out that you should do more as you run pel-mell into your senior years. Chris and Henry show you how you can step up your game.

By Christopher Crowley, Henry S. Lodge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Younger Next Year as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Announcing the paperback edition of Younger Next Year, the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly bestseller, co-written by one of the country’s most prominent internists, Dr. Henry "Harry" Lodge, and his star patient, the 73-year-old Chris Crowley. These are the books that show us how to turn back our biological clocks—how to put off 70% of the normal problems of aging (weakness, sore joints, bad balance) and eliminate 50% of serious illness and injury.

The key to the program is found in Harry's Rules: Exercise six days a week. Don't eat crap. Connect and commit…

Book cover of An Artist of the Floating World

Richard C. Morais Author Of The Man with No Borders

From the list on thinking deeper about the human condition.

Who am I?

I am a journalist and a novelist. I was both Forbes Magazine’s longest serving foreign correspondent – having served 18 years in London as their European Bureau Chief – and wrote the feel-good international best-seller The Hundred-Foot Journey, a novel that Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey made into a much-loved 2014 film starring Helen Mirren. These twin careers have shaped my approach to writing in that I believe a good micro-story (fiction) should also make astute macro points (journalism). So, the journeys my characters undertake in my novels are also trying to address points about the world or life or humanity at large.

Richard's book list on thinking deeper about the human condition

Discover why each book is one of Richard's favorite books.

Why did Richard love this book?

The Nobel-prize winning laureate has written many more famous books dealing with the human condition, most notably The Remains of the Day and Never Let me Go, but this is, to my mind, his best rumination on humanity's familiar ache. Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day is a flawless book and similarly themed, but there is something about the post-war regrets, delusions, and self-justifications of the aging Japanese artist Masuji Ono that just slay me and make me want to weep. Ishiguro is of course the king of unreliable narrators, so I don't want to give away the big reveal here, but how denial of the truth and self-delusion can misdirect us in life, is at the core of this masterful insight into the human condition.

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked An Artist of the Floating World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*Kazuo Ishiguro's new novel Klara and the Sun is now available*


1948: Japan is rebuilding her cities after the calamity of World War II, her people putting defeat behind them and looking to the future. The celebrated painter Masuji Ono fills his days attending to his garden, his two grown daughters and his grandson, and his evenings drinking with old associates in quiet lantern-lit bars. His should be a tranquil retirement. But as his memories continually return to the past - to a life and…

Book cover of A Visit from the Goon Squad

Kevin Clouther Author Of Maximum Speed

From the list on literary fiction about the passage of time.

Who am I?

I live in the past, even as the wellness industry tells me to be present. I try to be present! Of course, I also worry about the future. Time for me, inexorably, moves both backward and forward. I’m always writing things down, scared of forgetting. How do other people do it? That’s why I read fiction (or one of the reasons). As Philip Roth said of his father in Patrimony, “To be alive, to him, is to be made of memory—to him if a man’s not made of memory, he’s made of nothing.”

Kevin's book list on literary fiction about the passage of time

Discover why each book is one of Kevin's favorite books.

Why did Kevin love this book?

When Jennifer Egan published “Found Objects” “Safari,” and “Ask Me If I Care” in The New Yorker I knew she was onto something, but I wasn’t prepared for the cumulative effect of A Visit from the Good Squad, which bounces between past and present (and, occasionally, into the future).

One character asks, “Time’s a goon, right?” Time is, though I hadn’t considered how until surrendering to Egan’s vision, which spans from NYC to Africa to PowerPoint. Whether this is a collection of linked stories or novel or some other hybrid form is irrelevant; the book is pure sorcery.

It was one of the thrills of my career to bring Egan to Omaha in 2019 to lecture to the University of Nebraska MFA in Writing.

By Jennifer Egan,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Visit from the Goon Squad as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Jennifer Egan's spellbinding novel circles the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other's pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa.

We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist's couch in…

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen

By Hendrik Groen, Hester Velmans (translator),

Book cover of The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen

Joanna Nell Author Of The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home

From the list on older characters who will warm your heart.

Who am I?

As a family doctor working in aged care, I have always felt disappointed by the stereotypical portrayal of ageing in fiction. Older characters are rarely the protagonist of their own story and are more likely to be relegated to minor roles that reflect their marginalization and invisibility in society. And yet, despite their physical limitations, my older patients have taught me that it’s never too late to laugh, love, make new friends or create mischief. Bette Davis once said, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” Without sugarcoating ageing, I strive for authenticity and humor in my writing to offer a more uplifting and hopeful portrayal of what lies ahead.

Joanna's book list on older characters who will warm your heart

Discover why each book is one of Joanna's favorite books.

Why did Joanna love this book?

I simply couldn’t resist the combination of the title of this book – a nod to Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 ¾, which I enjoyed many years ago – and its ironic setting of an Amsterdam aged care home. The novel is supposedly an exposé by an anonymous care home resident, although the author was subsequently revealed as Dutch writer, Peter de Smet. Told in the form of a diary, the book portrays the frustrations, indignities, and occasional small victories of Hendrik and his buddies in the Old-But-Not-Dead-Yet club as they fight to maintain agency over their own lives. The interplay between self-deprecating humor and poignancy in exploring the important themes around old age had me laughing out loud on one page and shedding tears on the next. 

By Hendrik Groen, Hester Velmans (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The hilarious international bestselling novel that has had pensioners ditching their sticks and zimmers to follow the age-defying, youth inducing antics inside The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old . . .

'Terrific. This geriatric Adrian Mole made me laugh' Woman and Home

'Funny and touching' BBC Radio 4

Meet Hendrik Groen. An octogenarian in a care home who has no intention of doing what he's told, or dying quietly. To that end, he creates the Old-But-Not-Dead Club and with his fellow members sets about living his final years with careless abandon. Such anarchism infuriates the care…

A Man Called Ove

By Fredrik Backman,

Book cover of A Man Called Ove

Sally Jenkins Author Of Little Museum of Hope

From the list on life-affirming.

Who am I?

I like books driven by characters who ride the same emotional rollercoaster as we all do in real life. Characters who love the wrong people or who lose the people they were right to love or who fail to match the norms expected by society. Characters I can empathise with, root for, and learn from. A fairytale happy ending is not necessary and can detract from the magic of a book. But I do like to be left with a feeling of hope. If a fictional character can learn to approach life more positively, then maybe I can too! This is what I try to achieve in my own books.

Sally's book list on life-affirming

Discover why each book is one of Sally's favorite books.

Why did Sally love this book?

A Man Called Ove was recommended to me by my husband. He is a voracious reader who has no qualms in casting a book to one side if it doesn’t immediately grab him – so I take his recommendations seriously. 

Ove is a grumpy old man who doesn’t want to continue living after the death of his wife. It sounds depressing and I nearly didn’t bother. But Backman’s skill as an author turns Ove’s story into an absolute delight. Ove may be grumpy, intolerant, and set in his ways but he is unable to turn his back on anyone in need – including an unattractive, large cat.

The book is a testament to everyone’s need for community.

By Fredrik Backman,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked A Man Called Ove as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



There is something about Ove.

At first sight, he is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots - neighbours who can't reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d'etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents' Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets.

But isn't it rare, these days, to find…

Ghost Story

By Peter Straub,

Book cover of Ghost Story

Michelle Mellon Author Of Down by the Sea: and Other Tales of Dark Destiny

From the list on fate dealing its infamously fickle hand.

Who am I?

It’s natural for humans to wonder who or what might have power over our actions. We’ve clawed our way to the top of the food chain, channeled the power of the elements, and tamed much of nature to our whim. What if something out there was the architect—or more—of our successes and failures? It’s something I’ve explored since I first began writing: fed by the adventures of living as an “Army brat” with a new life every two years, in keeping with my natural inclination to solve puzzles, and spurred by my fear of death and the equally frightening possibility that someone is or isn’t pulling the strings…

Michelle's book list on fate dealing its infamously fickle hand

Discover why each book is one of Michelle's favorite books.

Why did Michelle love this book?

There are certainly many different types of lists on which this book belongs. I always tell people Ghost Story is the scariest thing I’ve ever read. I was fortunate enough to relay that to the late great Peter Straub at a horror writers’ conference many years ago. Though I’m sure he would have liked praise for a more contemporary work, there’s a timelessness in the terror he evokes in this book. But that’s not the reason I include it here. It’s because I think ghosts are a form of Fate. Violence, injustice, visceral reactions—these are the things we associate with ghosts, and these are the elements that are central to the story of the punishing hand of Fate in this novel. 

By Peter Straub,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Ghost Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times bestselling author Peter Straub’s classic tale of horror, secrets, and the dangerous ghosts of the past...
What was the worst thing you’ve ever done?
In the sleepy town of Milburn, New York, four old men gather to tell each other stories—some true, some made-up, all of them frightening. A simple pastime to divert themselves from their quiet lives.
But one story is coming back to haunt them and their small town. A tale of something they did long ago. A wicked mistake. A horrifying accident. And they are about to learn that no one can bury…

All Night Long

By Barbara Keesling,

Book cover of All Night Long: How to Make Love to a Man Over 50

Ruth Buezis Author Of Awaken Love: The Truth About Sex that will Transform Your Marriage

From the list on to help Christians create an amazing sex life.

Who am I?

When I decided to work on my sex life, I devoured both Christian and secular books looking for answers. I not only wanted to understand God’s design for sex, but I also needed help learning to create the amazing sex life that God wanted for me. Since that time, I have taught Awaken Love classes to thousands of Christian women and heard their stories. I continue to look for resources that are empowering for wives, within God’s boundaries, in line with women’s experiences, practical and thought-provoking.

Ruth's book list on to help Christians create an amazing sex life

Discover why each book is one of Ruth's favorite books.

Why did Ruth love this book?

Just the other day I got an email from a wife worried about her aging husband losing confidence, and I immediately recommended All Night Long. Sex doesn’t have to end when our husbands slow down. In fact, sex can get better than it has ever been before because change is an opportunity for growth. This book is filled with activities that will help boost your confidence and make your sex life sizzle. 

By Barbara Keesling,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Night Long as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is not about Viagra -- it is about making love. Getting older really does mean getting better. As millions of baby boomers are passing the fifty-year mark, concern for their sex lives is reaching epidemic proportions. This book makes it clear -- sex at fifty, and beyond, can be the best sex yet! By taking the mystery out of the ageing process, this book educates, reassures, and reinvigorates. The key is to remember that we live in a fast-paced society, where not getting there quickly enough sometimes means losing out -- but this is not the case with…

Jimmy Bluefeather

By Kim Heacox,

Book cover of Jimmy Bluefeather

Nancy Lord Author Of pH: A Novel

From the list on authentic Alaska by Alaskans.

Who am I?

I’m a long-time Alaskan (and former Alaska writer laureate) with a passion for my place—its people, environment, and history. I’ve always read widely in its literature and have watched it mature from superficial “last frontier” stories into a complex and diverse wealth of authentic and well-told stories. Since 2015 I’ve reviewed books for the Anchorage Daily News and have made it my business to know and support the growing Alaska writing community. Alaska is particularly strong in nonfiction writing while fiction (other than mysteries and short stories) has been slower to develop, and I’ve chosen to highlight five examples of novels that present truths through imaginative leaps.

Nancy's book list on authentic Alaska by Alaskans

Discover why each book is one of Nancy's favorite books.

Why did Nancy love this book?

Set in Southeast Alaska, Jimmy Bluefeather honestly depicts both environmental and generational change.

A Tlingit-Norwegian canoe carver anticipates the end of his life while his grandson struggles with his own future and a whale biologist resists authority in favor of moral action. Heacox grounds his beautifully-written story in considerable research as well as with respect for cultural beliefs and practices.

The canoe carver in particular is well-drawn and memorable, with toughness, resilience, and humor earned from living close to the Earth and its waters, in a place of stories. A canoe journey carries the story into a wild landscape, questions about conflicts between economic development and the preservation of lands and cultural values, and understandings of human frailty and strength. 

By Kim Heacox,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jimmy Bluefeather as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner, National Outdoor Book Award

"Part quest, part rebirth, Heacox's debut novel spins a story of Alaska's Tlingit people and the land, an old man dying, and a young man learning to live."
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A splendid, unique gem of a novel."
-Library Journal (starred review)

"Heacox does a superb job of transcending his characters' unique geography to create a heartwarming, all-American story."

"What makes this story so appealing is the character Old Keb. He is as finely wrought and memorable as any character in contemporary literature and energizes the tale with a humor and warmth that…