After the death of her long-time husband, Lola is very lonely. When she rents an older cat over the Internet, her days gradually brighten and become meaningful. Lola and the Rent-a-Cat, written by Dutch writer Ceseli Josephus Jitta, is a children’s book that explores issues about grief and aging.
As we grow older, many of us enjoy reading books in which people in our demographic are the main focus. Good news, you have a lot of choices. Books featuring older adults are found in most every genre – children’s, fiction, non-fiction, romance, memoirs, biographies, humor and essays.
Whether for you or for a favorite intergenerational relative or friend, here are books about older adults you might want to pick up at your library or book store.
Books with Older Characters for the Younger Set
Consider these children’s books that portray older adults in a positive light.
- Set on an Indian reservation in Arizona Big Moon Tortilla by Joy Cowley is a tale of a grandmother who comforts her troubled granddaughter with an ancient story and a delicious tortilla;
- In Mystery Bottle by Kristen Balouch a Brooklyn boy is magically transported to his grandfather’s home in the Middle East;
- Michael Rosen recounts a fishing trip with his son and father in Fishing with Dad;
- And another non-fiction book is River of Words, a biography by Jen Bryant about William Carlos Williams who combined successful careers as both a doctor and poet.
A New Spin on Romance Novels
A 2017 survey found that one-third of all romance readers are over the age of 45, and publishers have taken note. This new subcategory that features older characters is often called “seasoned romance,” writes Kevyn Burger in Next Avenue.
“’There is huge growth potential for more age diversity in romance. We’re starting to see much more focus on representation of all kinds. I think authors are paying attention and exploring older characters more and more,’ said Leah Koch, who co-owns with her sister Bea The Ripped Bodice, the nation’s only bookstore devoted exclusively to romance, in Culver City, California.
Koch calls the books she stocks that feature older heroines ‘second chance romances,’ appealing to readers who savor stories about couples taking another stab at love. The oldest heroine in a book on the shelves of her shop is 71; the romance Late Fall is set in an assisted living facility.”
Other seasoned romance books include Nan Reinhardt’s Women of Willow Bay series and Sex and the Widow Miles, Kristen Ashley’s Magdalene, Colorado Mountain and Dream Man series and Freya Barker’s Cedar Tree and Northern Lights series.
Autobiographies and Other Non-Fiction
Poet Donald Hall died last year at the age of 89. His last two books were not poems but essay collections about growing old: Essays After Eighty and A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety.
California’s Institute on Aging compiled its list of best non-fiction books about aging. Here are 5 of them:
- This Chair Rocks by Ashton Applewhite, a “fiercely activist” and funny book;
- The New Old Me by Meredith Maran, a LGBT memoir about growing old;
- Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabakov, “all-time” great memoir by Lolita author;
- I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron, wise and funny memoir by popular writer and filmmaker;
- The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, a book about grief after her husband died suddenly.
Fictional Characters You’re Sure to Love
If you enjoyed reading A Man Called Ove and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Random House marketing manager Taylor Noel has put together a list of “11 novels with Older Adults You’re Sure to Love.”
Here are 5 from Taylor’s list:
- Made for Love by Alissa Nutting (“absurd and raunchy comedy about marriage and family” set in a trailer park of older adults);
- The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (exploits of a man who escapes from a retirement community on eve of his birthday);
- The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick (a 69-year-old man finds an unfamiliar charm bracelet among his late wife’s jewelry and goes on a quest for answers);
- In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende (a moving love story about an older man and woman that explores issues of human rights and immigration);
- The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg (about a group of delinquent older women decided to steal artwork from the National Gallery).
Intergenerational Relationships Are Good For All
If you enjoy reading, consider sharing your passion with children by reading books to them. Intergenerational relationships are not only beneficial for you, but for children as well.
Learn how to get involved in new intergenerational friendships, programs offered at Kendal at Oberlin and read what the experts have to say in regards to the health benefits of these relationships by downloading our free guide.
Young or Old, Big or Small, Intergenerational Relationships Are Good For All!
Find out how you can benefit today's youth and how they are helping others like you in our eBook.
In the past, Molly Kavanaugh frequently wrote about Kendal at Oberlin for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where she was a reporter for 16 years. Now we are happy to have her writing for the Kendal at Oberlin Community.