5 Books that are Perfect for Older People
Unwinding with a good book is perfect whatever your age and even more ideal in later life where a calm and slower pace of life is much deserved. Everyone has a favourite genre of book, things they like to read but regardless of your taste, these five books are universally interesting, especially for older people.
First published in the mid-80s, and then again a few years ago in audiobook form, with the author’s reflective look back at his work at older age added in, Jupiter’s Travels is a first-hand non-fiction account of Ted Simon’s 4-year motorcycle journey around the world. Despite the fact you would find this read in the Travel, Information or Motorcycle hobby section of a book shop, Jupiter’s Travels is not really about any of these. Yes, Ted passes from country to country, writing and photographing as he goes, but the true nature of his time riding from London back round to London is about self discovery, testing his limits and looking for truer meanings and understandings of himself. It’s about culture, landscape and traditions not as a tourist, but as a confused and often disilusioned and disenfranchised 30-something trying to make sense of, well, everything. Ted doesn’t write with rose-tinted spectacles about his time, it’s not rustic cafes in the sun and snow capped mountains. It’s hard and tragic, spiritual and enlightening, despairing and ecstatic. The destination in Jupiter’s Travels is not a geographical one, it’s somewhere or something else.
I’m Too Young to be Seventy
Not a novel or nonfiction this one, but a collection of poems. Poetry might well be an acquired taste for many, but this book doesn’t require deep interpretation of many hundred year old words. Written by Judith Viorst, her collection is aimed at people who don’t feel (or act!) their age. It’s charming, funny, witty, teasing and good spirited throughout.
The Little Old Lady Who Broke all the Rules
In this fast paced, exciting and surprisingly thoughtful novel, a group of seniors become bored of early bedtimes, soft foods and letting others control their lives. So they decide to do something about it. What do they do? Well, they commit a robbery. Of course there’s no encouragement about senior crime in this book, that’s not the point at all. This is a book that doesn’t take itself or its subject matter TOO seriously and becomes a page turning, rib tickling comedy of errors as the pensioner main characters defy your expectations as a reader, defy the society they’re living in and have a few laughs along the way. It’s uproarious and outrageous in more ways than one. Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg’s novel combines great fun with just enough deeper meanings.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Our first advice on this one is to have a box (or crate) of tissues at the ready. You’ve been warned! Published in 2012, Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is a rollercoaster. Harold’s quiet retirement is turned on its head when he receives a letter in the post from an old friend from his past. The 65-year-old then embarks on his walking journey across England to meet the person who wrote to him. Backwards looking, nostalgic and emotional throughout, this novel plays upon being reflective in old age, marvels at the glow and shimmer that a long life gives off and leaves more than enough room for a retired person to live a new life.
This may seem like a strange addition to a list of books recommended to older people but hear us out! Harry Potter is (as we all know!) the novel phenomenon of the last 100 years. Huge box office success, franchise toys and theme parks the world over. But it’s the small fantasy books at the heart of it that make it worthy of this list. Working on the same theory here that Jaws is not a film about a shark, Harry Potter is not a book series about Magic. It’s about life, death, family, friendship, bravery, trying hard and continuing to live positively through and after devastation. Yes, it has the odd joke and is extremely tongue in cheek in places. Yes it may be aimed more at your children or grandchildren than you yourself. Yes, it does have seven books, innumerable plot threads and characters. However the deepest core of J.K Rowling’s best seller is still a story that radiates with everyone. Young or old, male or female, bookworm or movie lover. If you haven’t read it yet (unlikely, let’s be honest) then now’s the time.
It would be easy to fill this list with older classics. Shakespeare, Steinbeck and Orwell are all worthy but variety is the spice of life. See what you think of these first and go from there, there’s definitely something for everyone. Have you got any recommendations of your own? Let us know on our Facebook page here!
By Guy Bezant, Signature content contributor