Recommendations of the Best Books on Aging

Five Books is a website that provides lists of the best books on all kinds of subjects. Recently it published two different lists of the best books on aging.

In The best books on Ageing neuroscientist and science writer Kathleen Taylor presents “the latest science on ageing and the literary works that can give us a clearer picture of what it’s all about.”

Taylor recommends these books:

  1. Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
  2. The Warden by Anthony Trollope
  3. How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter by Sherwin Nuland
  4. How to Grow Old: Ancient Wisdom for the Second Half of Life by Marcus Tullius Cicero
  5. King Lear by William Shakespeare

Taylor’s list surprised me because I expected that a neuroscientist’s choices would be scientific books about the latest developments in understanding Alzheimer’s disease and other organic effects of aging. Here’s what Taylor has to say about her choices:

A lot of the problems that we have with old age when we’re younger are a failure to empathise with older people and to really understand what it feels like to be old—as opposed to what it looks like intellectually. So I’m keen to bring both perspectives in.

I’m not saying that I don’t think the scientific perspective is important, it really is, but I think if you blend that with a more understanding or internal perspective, it can help you understand the person. You can’t really know what it’s like to be old until you’re old but literature can get you a bit closer than, for example, the study of biochemical proteins and what they do in the brain.

I’m so glad to find a scientist who recognizes that some of our most important insights into the human experience come from fiction.

In another article, also titled The best books on Ageing, author Margaret Drabble recommends these five books:

  1. Late Call by Angus Wilson
  2. The Coming of Age by Simone de Beauvoir
  3. Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time by Penelope Lively
  4. The Long Life by Helen Small
  5. Unexpected Lessons in Love by Bernardine Bishop

The works by Simone de Beauvoir, Penelope Lively, and Helen Small present social and cultural overviews of aging. Although these books offer insight into the experience of aging, I was most interested in Drabble’s comments on the novels Late Call and Unexpected Lessons in Love as well as her own most recent novel, The Dark Flood Rises, all of which focus on characters experiencing advancing age.

And I particularly like Drabble’s answer the the question of advice on how to age well:

I think learning a new language is good. It’s slightly better for the brain than crossword puzzles, but it also teaches you a new world. I’m learning German poetry with a PhD student. We don’t do language—I don’t want to go shopping in Germany—but we read poems together, and that has given me great joy. It’s like entering into a new world that I knew was there but had never had the time or inclination to enter.

© 2017 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday: Washington State Fair Edition

Thanks to Natalie for hosting Three Things Thursday, “three things big or small, that have made you happy this week.”

Three Things Thursday

We recently took our annual trip to the Washington State Fair. There’s always a lot to see there. Here are three things that especially struck my fancy.

Number One

A large Sasquatch guarded the wood carvers’ tent.

Sasquatch

Number Two

And there was the required animal wisdom that we’ve come to enjoy:

cow wisdom

Number Three

And the state fair wouldn’t be complete without a beautiful, lounging pig:

sleeping pig

What made you happy this week?

© 2017 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday: Birthday Edition

Thanks to Natalie for hosting Three Things Thursday, “three things big or small, that have made you happy this week.”

Three Things Thursday

Please allow me a bit of self-indulgence. This week, it’s all about my recent birthday.

My husband and daughter took me out for dinner to my favorite restaurant, Stanley & Seafort’s, here in Tacoma, WA. This restaurant has wonderful food along with a gorgeous view of downtown Tacoma.

My usual celebratory drink on my birthday is a chocolate martini. But this year my eye fell on the lavender Cosmo on the menu and wouldn’t be denied (purple being my favorite color). So that’s what I started out with:

lavender Cosmo

Dinner was delicious, but birthdays are all about celebrating, so, after devouring my steelhead (which is a member of the trout family but similar to salmon in color and taste), I went for dessert. Being gluten sensitive limits my dessert options, but fortunately I love burnt cream, which was beautifully and festively served:

burnt cream

And also on the dessert menu, right under the food items, was the after-dinner drink listing, headed by Death by Chocolate Martini. So, of course, I had to have that as well:

Death by Chocolate Martini

It was quite a gustatory birthday celebration! Thanks to hubby and daughter.

© 2017 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Natalie for hosting Three Things Thursday, “three things big or small, that have made you happy this week.”

Three Things Thursday

Our enrichment activities director from Franke Tobey Jones Retirement Community planned an exciting eclipse-viewing trip for us. Last Friday we left Tacoma, WA, for the 150-mile trip south to Portland, OR. Here are three highlights of our trip.

Friday: Powell’s Books

No trip to Portland is complete without a visit to Powell’s Books, the mother ship of bookstores. I only got this quick shot of the store’s exterior as we were crossing the street to enter. Once I got inside, I was much too excited to bother with photos. But trust me, if you’re ever in Portland, you’ll want to include this landmark on places-to-visit list.

Powell's Books

Saturday Market

Equally as famous as Powell’s Books is Portland’s Saturday Market, which is now open on both Saturdays and Sundays. You can find just about anything you want there. We had a lovely day to browse, and I came home with a number of holiday gifts.

Portland Saturday Market

Monday: Eclipse Viewing

The highlight of the trip was our view of Monday’s total solar eclipse. Many of our fellow trip participants had made viewers by taping a piece of welder’s glass to a box top, but my husband and I were lazier: We just bought the glasses. Most of us stayed at our hotel in Portland, where we had 99% of totality:

eclipse viewing

A few of our fellow travelers made the short trip to a park in a town a bit south of Portland, where they saw the whole thing: 100% totality.

Even at not-quite-complete totality, seeing the eclipse was an amazing experience. In just seven years another total solar eclipse will cross the Eastern part of the United States, and I’m thinking that might be a good time to visit some friends and family members…

© 2017 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Natalie for hosting Three Things Thursday, “three things big or small, that have made you happy this week.”

Three Things Thursday

Number One

Our friends Dolores and Joe celebrated their 65th anniversary last week:

65 years! Isn’t that remarkable? My husband and I celebrated #46 a couple of months ago, which I think is a pretty big accomplishment. But we’re amateurs next to Dolores and Joe, who have now become our role models.

Number Two

We found another Little Free Library while out and about here in Tacoma, WA:

Little Free Library

This is the second one we’ve found here in our own home town. The very first Little Free Library I ever saw in the wild was in the nearby town of Puyallup, where our daughter lives.

Number Three

For one glorious day the Seattle Mariners held the second American League wild card playoff spot. Since then they’ve lost more games than they’ve won, and making it into the post season seems increasingly more elusive.

The Mariners Tripe A minor league team, the Rainiers, play here in Tacoma. While they don’t always win, either, at least their losses don’t seem as devastating as the Big League team’s do. Attending a Rainiers game is a lot of fun, and we’ve attended four this month. Here’s a shot of Taylor Motter, who spent some time earlier in the season playing in Seattle:

Motter at bat

We’ll probably see Motter playing in Seattle again when the Big League roster expands on September 1.

I hope everyone has a good week!

© 2017 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Natalie for hosting Three Things Thursday, “three things big or small, that have made you happy this week.”

Three Things Thursday

Last week was a busy one here at Frank Tobey Jones retirement community. Here are the three events we attended.

(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

Wednesday: Lunch Bunch at Marzano

We revisited one of our most popular places to eat, Marzano Italian restaurant.

I especially appreciate that everything on the menu except the lasagna was available in a gluten-free version. I had the highly recommended spaghetti bolognese on gluten-free pasta, and my husband had a pizza with gluten-free crust. Both were delicious, as was my dessert: chocolate torte made without wheat flour.

Thursday: Concert on the Lawn with Scott Cossu

The annual Concert on the Lawn series takes place on Thursday evenings during August. These free concerts are open to people in the nearby community as well as residents of Franke Tobey Jones. They are always popular. People bring lawn chairs or blankets and relax on the front lawn with a picnic dinner and/or whatever drinks and snacks they choose to bring along. People who live in the houses closest to FTJ just sit out in their front yards. A lot of children always attend, and they enjoy running around on the spacious lawn.

concert on the lawn

Last week’s performance was by composer and performer—and Northwest resident—Scott Cossu  and friends.

Scott Cossu and accompaniment

Friday: Family Picnic

There was lots of food and fun, along with outstanding entertainment by the Filipiniana Multicultural Dance Troupe.

Filipiniana Multicultural Dance Troupe

© 2017 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Natalie for hosting Three Things Thursday, “three things big or small, that have made you happy this week.”

Three Things Thursday

(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

One: Whirligig Pterodactyl

Pterodactyl Sculpture

At least we think this is a whirligig. There was very little wind when the photo was taken, so we didn’t see the pterodactyl fly.

I’m always amazed at how creative some people are!

Two: Rubber Ducky Raft

Rubber Ducky raft

There was some waterskiing going on in Commencement Bay, and these folks had pulled up to watch. Later we read in the paper that this was some kind of national championship competition.

These folks had one of the best seats in the house.

Three: Live Like the Mountain is Out

Mount Rainier: "Live Like the Mountain Is Out"

The area around Tacoma, WA, USA, is called the South Sound because we sit at the bottom of Puget Sound. And although Seattle, which is not in the South Sound area, likes to try to commandeer our mountain, we folks down here know that Mount Rainier is really OUR mountain.

Live Like the Mountain is Out is a slogan and movement of SouthSoundProud.

Over the years I’ve posted a lot of photos of Mount Rainier because I love it so much. But you need to see one more, because this one was taken last weekend, on perhaps the clearest day we’ve had in our four years in Tacoma. And it looks even better if you click for the larger view.

Once again, thanks to my husband for his great photo skills.

Have a wonderful week!

© 2017 by Mary Daniels Brown