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Great books about life and aging
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by Emilyn Linden
I recently finished reading The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons. A thought that I kept having over and over is that I want to be Eudora when I get old. I want to be cantankerous and outspoken but also kind. I already use old idioms (my husband likes to make fun of me for it), so I figure I’m started on the path to Eudora-ness.
This book also got me thinking about other books I’ve read in the last few years about older characters whom I admire for their forthrightness and taking advantage of their advanced age to speak their mind. It made me realize there have been quite a few books featuring that type of story published in the last few years.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman - Ove is a cranky curmudgeon who lives a solitary life -- until a new family moves in next door.
An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten - Maud is definitely not kind, but she’s definitely interesting to read about. She’s 88, Swedish, has no friends or family, and gets away with murder (repeatedly) because no one suspects the little old lady.
The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg - Arthur eats his lunch at his wife’s graveside every day. That’s where he meets Maddy, a teenage girl avoiding school by hanging out in the cemetery.
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick - On the one-year-anniversary of his wife Miriam’s death, Arthur Pepper finds a gold charm bracelet he’s never seen before among her things. This find leads Arthur to travel and learn more about Miriam’s life before their marriage and about how travel can expand our worlds.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman - Eleanor Oliphant is not elderly, but she is forthright and keeps a strict schedule to limit human contact. She, a co-worker, and an older gentleman they rescue create a found-family and help each other break out of their isolation.
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande - If you read Eudora Honeysett and it gets you thinking about end of life care and putting together a living will and other planning documents, I definitely recommend picking up Being Mortal.
Emilyn Linden is a librarian in the FDL Public Library Information and Outreach Services department.