In no meaningful order (yet), here are a handful of books that we need as we age.
This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto against Ageism, by Ashton Applewhite (NY: Celadon Books, 2019).
Ashton Applewhite is an essential historian of the practice of ageism. The term “ageism” was coined in 1969, the same year as “sexism,” but—despite the fact that ageism hurts everyone—ageism awareness lags far, far behind awareness of sexism. Applewhite has digested and translated into useful prose a great deal of research about age and identity, age and physical and mental health, age and the workforce, age and sexuality, and our terror of death as a driver of ageism. She’s vital, impassioned, smart, and a great advocate. Read her now, and watch my interview with her here.
Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life, by Louise Aronson (NY: Bloomsbury, 2019).
Louise Aronson, MD, MFA, is a rare bird: a geriatrician. She makes a critical point early in Elderhood: that we have delineated sub-stages for every stage of life except elderhood (which until recently didn't even have a name -- it was just the unfortunate tail end of adulthood). Aronson points out that "Childhood" is divided into the years of the infant, toddler, young child, older child, tween, and teen. Adulthood encompasses the phases young adult, adult, early middle-age, (the dreaded) late-middle-age, and "senior." After "senior"? Nebraska. Aronson wrote her book in part to right this culturally over-determined oversight, first of all adding "elderhood" to the recognized list of life stages, and subdividing "elderhood" into old, elderly, and aged. (Elsewhere, I've seen these phases more flippantly described as "go-go," "go-slow," and "no-go.") With her decades of experience as a physician in the academic American medical system (she is currently faculty at the University of California at San Francisco), Aronson has written a book full of insight and the poignant stories that helped create it. This is an expansive book that richly rewards your attention.
Counter-Clockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility, by Ellen J. Langer (NY: Ballantine, 2009).
Ellen Langer is a Harvard psychologist whose ingenious experiments over decades have demonstrated the power we have, and so often ignore, to improve our lived experience. When we mindlessly absorb punishing cultural assumptions about aging, we end up living them. We don’t have to. Langer explains the findings of experiments that demonstrate that with only subtle shifts in our thinking, in our language, and in our expectations, we can begin to change ingrained behaviors that sap our health, optimism, and vitality.
Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're in without Going Crazy, by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone (New World Library, 2012).
If you do not know Joanna Macy and her Work that Reconnects, go instantly to the website and learn everything you can. Macy, an eco-philosopher, teacher, and movement organizer, is one of the precious people you can count on always to tell you the horrific truth about the state of our planet, to teach you how to feel that horror and stay hopeful, and to show you how you can realize your role as a vital contributor to the healing of the planet, which she and other ecological activists call the Great Turning. Macy has written several books; Active Hope is a later one, and is an urgent and necessary introduction to her body of work. What’s it have to do with aging? We elders have presided over the near-destruction of our planet, and we owe it to our children and their children and their children to a thousand generations to do everything we can, while we’re still here, to heal the earth. (Much of the work of the Elders Action Network is founded in the principles of the Work that Reconnects.)
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel van der Kolk (NY: Penguin, 2014).
A shocking percentage of us have experienced trauma in our lives. Whether we were traumatized by neglect, abuse, war, street violence, gun violence, or violence in our living environment, the impact shapes our lives in ways large and small until we process it. We don't "age out" of the effects of trauma; it lives on in our bodies, affecting our feelings, health, thoughts, and processing ability. Psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk has worked with trauma survivors for decades, and in this book gifts us with great compassion and insight about how trauma works, and how we can begin to heal from it. it is never too late to begin. Van der Kolk's book is the best first step I know.
Never Say Die: The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age, by Susan Jacoby (NY: Vintage, 2012).
Almost nobody wants to hear what Susan Jacoby says in The New Old Age, but everyone should pay attention. Jacoby, a trenchant cultural critic, has had it up to here with all the commerce-driven happy talk about aging. For me, she dwells a little long on the bleak picture of life after 85, when still well under half of Americans (~ 37%) will experience dementia, and the meat of much of her book can be found elsewhere, including in Robert Butler’s 1975 classic, Why Survive? But Jacoby’s bracing insight on several issues is rare and welcome. “The entire subject of old age is now surrounded by a fog of emotional correctness . . . in which the very word ‘old’ is seen as an expression of prejudice rather than a factual description of a stage of life,” Jacoby writes, blasting away at that fog, which shrouds boomers’ age-denial and corporations’ brilliant strategies for capitalizing on it. Among other feats, Jacoby explodes the myth of a happier time when Americans revered their elders; examines the frightening implications of the fact that women live longer than men and are far more likely to be impoverished in older age; and deconstructs the lore of old-age wisdom as an emotionally coercive decommissioning of potentially activist, justifiably angry, elders. Jacoby returns frequently to the examples set by her remarkable, long-lived mother and grandmother, which grounds and humanizes this clear-sighted book.
Twyla Tharp, Keep It Moving: Lessons for the Rest of Your Life (NY: Simon & Schuster, 2019).
I love this book. It’s full of no-nonsense advice from one of the greatest choreographers and dancers of the 20th (or any) century. Tharp’s dozen chapters are short and bracing, and each one includes an exercise. I love that Exercise 1 is “Take Up Space.” She means, of course, psychic as well as physical space. She is telling us, first thing: Do not let yourself be diminished by ageism. Her second exercise is titled, “Practice Pushing Back,” but I wish she’d called it “Push Your Pledge,” because the point of this chapter, “The Life We Choose,” is that our continued growth depends upon making and keeping a pledge to ourselves. A pledge is different from a goal: a goal can be reached; a pledge requires us to keep striving forever. We’re more accustomed to thinking of our purpose at this life stage, but I’ve decided I prefer “pledge,” because it’s a sacred promise to yourself. Keep It Moving is a book to be savored and used, piece by piece by piece. My advice: Get it now.
Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life, by Bill Thomas (NY: Simon & Schuster, 2014).
Bill Thomas—the geriatrician whose compassion, insight, and energy have led (so far) to the Eden Alternative, the Green House Project, changingaging.org, and so much more—has written a radical cultural history and aging primer in Second Wind. Dr. Thomas argues that by far the most prevalent developmental disability in America today is the Baby Boomer generation’s inability to move from the second phase of life—adulthood—to the newly elongated and much denigrated third stage—elderhood. His urgent argument is that America desperately needs the accumulated experience and perspective of its older citizens—Boomers and their parents. His passionate wish for the society to let go of its treacherous ageism and for elders to seize their strength leaps from every page. Will we succumb to “Denialsm”—insisting that we need not age at all? Or to “Realism”—admitting that we’ll age, awful as that truth is, but make the best of it? Or will we embrace aging with Enthusiasm—maximizing the unique potential of the final stage of our lives? This is very much an open question. Second Wind makes the strongest possible case for Enthusiasm. This book will change the way you see the world, and, hopefully, the way you age.
From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Revolutionary Approach to Growing Older, by Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Ronald S. Miller (NY: Grand Central Publishing, 2008).
For many people, From Age-ing to Sage-ing is the bible of “spiritual eldering,” a process of transforming oneself from an “old person,” with all the cultural and intrapsychic baggage attached to that term, into an “elder”—a person of years who cultivates wisdom gleaned from a lifetime’s experience and embraces the process of aging, including mortality, in all of its richness. The book is based on rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi’s intense personal exploration, beginning with the grief and anxiety he felt about aging as he approached 60, and moving through his development of the rigorous process of becoming an elder. The exercises at the back of the book stimulate deep, systematic reflection about many aspects of your life. They are a gift in themselves. The organization, Sage-ing International, is based on this work.
Conscious Living, Conscious Aging: Embrace & Savor Your Next Chapter, by Ron Pevny (NY: Atria Books, 2014).
Conscious Living, Conscious Aging is an intimate guide to “aging with awareness and intention rather than merely growing old.” The author, Ron Pevny, founded the Center for Conscious Eldering in 2010. Pevny acts as a kind guide as we face “the vulnerability, fear, loss, confusion, and hope that are part of the aging process for most of us.” He writes that “the challenge of creating an elderhood with meaning, passion, growth, and service . . . is daunting because our world offers little that is high and noble after retirement. It tells us that the last two or three decades of our precious lives have no societally valued role or purpose.” Conscious Living, Conscious Aging is intended to help us answer the question, “What do I aim for as I age?” and offers a myriad of tools to use to build our lives to meet that goal. It’s hard to find a kinder or wiser guide than Pevny.
Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying, by Ram Dass (Riverside Books, 2001).
“In this youth-oriented culture, aging is a profound source of suffering,” writes Ram Dass in the opening pages of Still Here. Ram Dass looks at the cultural options presented 20+ years ago, when he wrote – relentless age denial involving surgeries and shame, or acquiescence in the soul-killing narrative of the superfluous senior – and returns us to the realization that we are interconnected souls, not just isolated bodies and egos. Still Here is a gentle reintroduction to Buddhist basics for those of us suffering with age. “Wisdom is one of the few things in human life that does not diminish with age,” he writes. “While everything else falls away, wisdom alone increases until death if we lead examined lives.” Ram Dass has been a gracious teacher of the examined life for decades, and kindly extends his guidance for us right up to the threshold of transformation.
Aging as a Spiritual Practice: A Contemplative Guide to Growing Older and Wiser, by Lewis Richmond (NY: Gotham Books, 2012).
Aging as a Spiritual Practice is a lovely, thoughtful set of meditations and exercises designed to help us unearth and develop the many gifts aging brings us – gifts only available after decades of life experience. A Buddhist writer and teacher, Lewis Richmond has crafted a guide that readers can live with for months and years, circling back as often as desired to explore more deeply.
The Couple's Retirement Puzzle: 10 Must-Have Conversations for Creating an Amazing New Life Together, by Roberta Taylor and Dorian Mintzer (Sourcebooks, 2014).
Have you ever heard the quip, "For better or worse, but not for lunch"? Maybe a few couples are able to fulfill the dream of a happy, stress-free retirement together. But most will be surprised by the difficulties involved in retiring at all, let alone with a spouse who's having their own adjustment problems. This direct, comprehensive book helps couples anticipate and begin to work through the very significant challenges retirement poses for most of us. Compassionate and insightful.
Finish Strong: Putting Your Priorities First at Life’s End (Littleton, CO: Compassion & Choices, 2019).
Barbara Coombs Lee – registered nurse, physician assistant, lawyer, and president of Compassion & Choices, the leading organization in America’s end-of-life choice movement – has written an indispensable, nuts-and-bolts guide to taking charge of your end-of-life medical care. The book and the Compassion & Choices website are filled with warm guidance and concrete tools to help us navigate the labyrinth of decision-making and communication involved. Her tireless legislative advocacy and that of Compassion & Choices has made the process of choosing and communicating clearly how we want our last days to play out a matter of personal choice in more parts of the U.S. than when she began. “A life coming to closure can provide a profound and sacred lesson in how to live,” Coombs Lee writes. Finish Strong is the best practical guide I know to help us learn and leave the lesson we choose. In the interview on this page, Barbara and I discuss her necessary book and her life’s work. My brief review of Finish Strong for the Sage-ing International quarterly newsletter, The Communicator, is here.
How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations, by Marc Freedman (NY: Hachette, 2018).
“People in middle age and beyond who invest in caring for and developing the next generation are three times as likely to be happy as those who fail to do so,” writes Marc Freedman in How to Live Forever. (He is referring to findings from the Harvard Study of Adult Development, reported in the book, Aging Well, by George Vaillant, discussed below.) Freedman, founder of Encore.org (“Second Acts for the Greater Good”), author of several books, and overall superb human being, looks at the world and sees two large problems that can cure each other: millions of younger people in this country who need a great deal more loving adult attention and mentorship than they’re getting, and millions of boomers and beyond who need a great deal more purpose in their lives than they’ve found post-retirement. Freedman looks at this situation and sees the solution: bring the two populations together. How to Live Forever is in part a research report on how very well both generations are served when they’re purposefully linked, and in part an exhortation and inspiration to all of us to work to scale the solutions. Freedman takes us all over the world to examine exemplary programs, big and small, connecting the generations for the benefit of all. Read this book and be inspired, then explore the multifaceted world of Encore.org and see how you might be able to help and be helped.
A Long Bright Future: Happiness, Health, and Financial Security in an Age of Increased Longevity¸ Laura Carstensen (NY: Broadway Books, 2009).
“Because long life appeared so suddenly, we lack new social benchmarks that tell us when to get an education, marry, work, and retire. Existing norms don’t apply because they evolved around lives half as long. So if you don’t yet know how you’ll navigate your way through old age, join the club.” So writes psychologist and gerontologist Laura Carstensen, founder and director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, in the first pages of A Long Bright Future. Carstensen’s book is so packed with information and deeply humane proposals it’s hard to know what to highlight. There’s her proposal (Chapter 3) to trash the outdated yet tyrannical three-stage life model of education-work-retirement and replace it with a much more relaxed arc in which the initial learning and growing phase goes on much longer, we ease into the job market more gradually, giving 30-somethings more time with growing children and aging parents, peak at work at 50, and around 65 begin to phase into a full retirement that begins around age 80. Or, there’s her agenda for research in “longevity science” (Chapter 6) to ensure that longer lives are healthy. And, there’s her cautionary list of what could go wrong (Chapter 7), including that we let the poor stay poor, we fail to plan for the children, and we fail to address the massive health threats created by sedentary, high-calorie lifestyles. Carstensen’s book bursts with knowledge, ideas, and heart.
A thousand thanks to Marci Alboher, Vice President at Encore, the organization created to help us find or create meaningful new life roles as we age, for this immensely useful step-by-step handbook. Alboher's aim with the handbook's is to help us figure out exactly how we want to contribute in the last third of our lives, and how to go about securing the ability to do so. If you're antsily looking for the meaning in your next phase of life, this book is indispensable.
A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance, by Jane Juska (NY: Villard, 2007).
Lots of books are being written about sex in mid-life and after (e.g., see Naked at Our Age), but for charm and narrative drive, you can’t beat Jane Juska’s A Round-Heeled Woman (“round-heeled” is an antique term for a sexually adventurous woman). At 66, Juska placed a personal ad in the New York Review of Books saying, simply, “Before I turn 67—next March—I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me.” That clever ad enlivened Juska’s life immeasurably, and reading about it is both enlightening and great fun.
Don't Retire, Rewire! 5 Steps to Fulfilling Work that Fuels Your Passion, Suits Your Personality, and Fills Your Pocket, Third Edition, by Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners (Alpha, 2018).
“Retiring” is a terrible word for a life phase. It might accurately describe a type of person, someone who is typically shy, self-effacing, and semi-invisible. But for a life phase lasting, now, for wealthier people, 20 to 30 or more years? No. The word and all associated leisure-and-travel-and-leisure images need to disappear. By far the biggest mistake people make about retirement is thinking that the major planning required is financial. While financial planning is certainly important, it’s not nearly enough, and possibly not the most important planning to be done. Life planning – determining how you’ll continue to thrive, to create meaning and joy in your life after you leave formal work (if you leave formal work) is essential to avoid the depression, isolation, and aimlessness that surprise many people in their retirement years. There are now many good guides and other resources to help you plan this phase of life (see my section on “Retirement” for more), and one of my favorite is this book, Don’t Retire, Rewire! by husband-wife team Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners. One important caveat: this book tacitly (and sometiems explicitly) assumes readers are retiring from upper-echelon white-collar jobs, which most people decidedly are not. Despite this unfortunate slant, the authors offer a superb array of tools organized around five major steps to help you scrutinize your wants and needs at this phase in your life, and plan effectively to meet them.
The Art of Aging: Celebrating the Authentic Aging Self, by Alice and Richard Matzkin
When artists Alice and RIchard Matzkin were surprised by aging, they responded by turning toward their aging bodies and those of their friends and acquaintances, and documenting the beauty they found. In this brief video they discuss the book they created to document their process, It is a remarkable gift to the world.
Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast (NY: Bloomsbury US, 2014).
Roz Chast's Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir,is heartbreaking, funny, and essential. With her typical wit, at once direct and idiosyncratic, Chast dramatizes the pathos and absurdity of life with elderly, failing parents. As an only child, Chast shoulders all of the emotional, financial, and logistical responsibility involved in seeing her parents through to the end of their lives. What a cliche to say "You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll never forget it." Yet, about this book, it's true. Chast's memoir will affect the way you think about the impending deaths of your parents, your other loved ones, and yourself.
Why Survive? Being Old in America, by Robert N. Butler (NY: Harper & Row, 1975).
Robert Butler, MD, already a distinguished psychiatrist and geriatrician, coined the term “ageism” in 1969, when Boomers were shouting at the top of their lungs, “Don’t trust anyone over 30!” The worm sure has turned, hasn’t it? Now Boomers are leading the fight against ageism, and Robert Butler’s 1975 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Why Survive?, is the movement’s foundational text. Early in the book, Butler writes, “The myth of serenity portrays old age as a kind of adult fairyland.” The rest of Why Survive? exhaustively puts the lie to that myth and to many others about old age—including that dementia is inevitable, that old people’s ills aren’t worth treating, that poverty in old age is the individual’s fault, that people over 65 aren’t fit for employment, that giving jobs to older people robs younger people of work, and that older people are naturally wise and kind. Some of the specific data Butler uses are outdated, but the overall thrust of his observations is shockingly current. His “agenda for activism”—laid out in a chapter titled “Pacification and the Politics of Aging”—can be lifted whole from these pages and applied to our work today. As its title makes clear, much of Why Survive? is grim reading. But Butler’s clarity, righteous anger, and vision for the future are bracing, as urgent today as when he wrote, back when Boomers believed themselves to be immortal.
Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every Age, by Jo Ann Jenkins (NY: Public Affairs, 2016).
Jo Ann Jenkins is the force of nature who currently heads AARP, and thank god for that. She’s a powerful advocate for age-friendly legislation and policies (around health insurance, Social Security, employment discrimination, new group living models, all-age-friendly built environments, and more) that, for many Americans, are or will soon become a matter of life or death. In Disrupt Aging, Jenkins shines her bright light on how ageism destroys lives (literally), and on strategies for independent living, maintaining physical and brain health, financing retirement, and more. Disrupt Aging is packed with resources for seniors and caregivers, starting with aarp.org/disruptaging. A must-read.
Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life, by George E. Vaillant (Boston: Little, Brown, 2002).
Until recently, most theories of human development ended with young adulthood and tacitly assumed that the sledding from there is strictly downhill, on the inevitable decline of aging. But nope. We continue to grow and change right up until the day we die. At least, we can. One of the most comprehensive and interesting studies of adult development is described by Harvard psychiatry professor George E. Vaillant in Aging Well. His six adult life tasks (Identity, Intimacy, Career Consolidation, Generativity, Keeper of Meaning, and Integrity) are derived from Harvard’s decades-long Study of Adult Development. In this often fascinating book, Vaillant describes these developmental tasks and tells stories of individuals in the Harvard Study as they make their way (or don’t) through continued development. This book is hopeful, thought-provoking, and frequently referenced by other authors because of its grounding in perhaps the largest and most rigorous study of adult development ever completed.
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, by Atul Gawande (NY: Metropolitan Books, 2014).
A major driver of ageism is our terror of death. Until we are able to accept death as a natural part of the life cycle of every living thing, we will shun older people as harbingers of our own doom. A surgeon, Atul Gawande has written an essential book about how to fix America’s neurotic approach to aging. Right now, we conceive of aging as a medical problem, to be fixed by all the miracles doctors can effect. Gawande writes that we think we’ll stop medical efforts to keep loved ones alive when doctors say there’s nothing more to do. But there’s always something more to do, no matter how risky, no matter how poor the odds of its making an appreciable difference in the patient’s life. In fact, Gawande discusses research showing that the more medical treatments terminal patients undergo in a desperate attempt to evade death, the more miserable their final weeks, and the more likely their loved ones are to experience severe depression in the months after their death. Being Mortal is a life-changing book about the necessity and surprising benefits of accepting the inevitability of death, at whatever age we face it.
The Longevity Economy: Unlocking the World’s Fastest-Growing, Most Misunderstood Market, by Joseph F. Coughlin (NY: Public Affairs, 2017).
Joseph Coughlin is the founder and director of the MIT AgeLab, an innovation powerhouse dedicated to stimulating the development of products Baby Boomers (and everyone else) need and want—products that reflect older lives as we’re actually vitally living them, rather than the dreaded “old age” of the dominant cultural narrative. Coughlin’s focus is on getting businesses to recognize and design for the huge Boomer market, and in so doing transform the ageist cultural narrative. He writes, “The baby boomers . . . will act as a sorting mechanism in the longevity economy, ruthlessly separating the companies that solve their real demands from those acting on a tired, false idea of oldness. The ultimate effect will be profound: a new, emergent vision of later life . . . which hews closely not to an antiquated vision of old age but how people actually want to live.” This book might change your idea of the possible.
The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life, by Gene D. Cohen, MD, PhD (NY: William Morrow, 2001).
Nobody ever wrote more beautifully, or with greater authority, about the creative potential of elderhood than the ebullient and brilliant Dr. Gene Cohen. Tragically, Dr. Cohen died of cancer at 65, depriving his family and the world of decades' worth of his joy and wisdom. The beauty of books is that we can continue to love him and be inspired by him.
Advanced Style, by Ari Seth Cohen (NY: powerHouse Books, 2012), and Advanced Style: Older & Wiser, by Ari Seth Cohen (NY: powerHouse Books, 2016).
Never, never let anyone make you dress dowdily by telling you to “act your age.” Ari Seth Cohen, raised by older women of high style, has a blog , a documentary, and these two fabulous books about older women who rule, style-wise. Don’t miss these. They’re good for the soul.
Prime Time: Love, Health, Sex, Fitness, Friendship, Spirit. Making the Most of All of Your Life, by Jane Fonda (NY: Random House, 2011).
I love Jane Fonda. (If you haven’t seen her and Lily Tomlin in Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie,” do! It’s the only show on television right now that honestly deals with aging and is still a comedy.) In Prime Time she’s at her best—frank, upbeat, resourceful. She (well--or her minions) has done her research, and covers all the bases of aging: anticipating aging to better prepare for it (She envisioned herself in detail as an older person when she was just in her 40’s, getting the jump on Ashton Applewhite’s recent advice to be “An Old Person in Training.”); taking care of ourselves physically to live our healthiest lives; staying connected with others; leaving a positive legacy for the next generation; and—hard as it is—embracing mortality. A key concept she offers is that of life as a staircase, rather than as an arch. In the arch, childhood is at one end, midlife is the peak, and past midlife it’s all downhill toward death. In her staircase (which she suggests should be a spiral), our development goes on and on. Hers is a generous, practical book.
The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain, by Gene D. Cohen, MD, PhD (NY: Basic Books, 2008).
If you only read one book about the aging brain, make it Gene D. Cohen’s The Mature Mind. Cohen was a pioneer in research on the typical developmental changes in our brains as we age. The research he reports in The Mature Mind shows that, far from crumbling inevitably into senescence, healthy brains never stop developing and changing. The brain continually grows new neurons and resculpts itself in response to experience and learning, and the aspects of brain function that do decline with age – for instance, raw speed on math problems, reaction times, and efficiency of short-term memory storage – are not the most important story about the aging brain. Among the most important positive changes as the brain ages is that it begins to use both hemispheres to solve increasingly complex problems, rather than relying on one or the other. This means greater flexibility and creativity in both everyday and more complex problem-solving. Dr. Cohen’s research drove several highly influential books in addition to The Mature Mind, including The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life, which helped spark ongoing interest in creative aging. You can learn more about it in this 2016 federal report, and at the National Center for Creative Aging.
Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex, by Joan Price (NY: Seal Press, 2011).
If you’re shy about explicit sex talk, avoid this book. But if you want to hear frank talk from men and women in late life about the challenges and joys of sex—with longstanding partners and new—this is the book for you. Joan Price collected questionnaires about sex from hundreds of older people and grouped their concerns and fixes into chapters, with “expert responses” on every topic. The upshot: “With self-knowledge, creativity, good communication, and a sense of humor, we can roll with the changes and make the earth move again.” Price’s book offers the most comprehensive information on late-life sex available. You can stay up to date with Price’s information through her blog, Better Than I Ever Imagined.