This book on aging collects a series of essays on the subject by journalist Michael Kinsley. While the essays are not gathered together as a unit particularly well, they do broach topics that all Baby Boomers will need to face over the next ten to twenty years.

Because he has suffered from Parkinson’s Disease for the last twenty years, Kinsley has had to confront some of the challenges of old age well before his peers. It is from his extended experience with these challenges that his insight comes. Kinsley passes along his advice in very funny, forthright prose. He pulls no punches and makes it clear to any aging boomer reader that they’d better listen up.

While Kinsley does often state that this is NOT a book about Parkinson’s Disease, he does spend a fair amount of space discussing Parkinson’s Disease and comparing it to other conditions of old age. Enough of this information is current enough that someone with Parkinson’s Disease could learn about why stem cell research is important, for example.

My favourite chapter in this book is Chapter 6, The Vanity of Human Hopes (Reputation). In this essay, Kinsley reminds us that most of us will be forgotten after we die except by those who knew us well. This is the reason he recommends that we consider carefully our reputation. I found that this chapter resonated strongly for me. If the only people who will remember us are our loved ones and closest friends and acquaintances, then should we not ensure that our reputation is positive with them?

I found this book in the library of the cruise ship I was holidaying in. The average age of those on board was 63. I hope some of the other passengers on board took the time to read this book as well as it is in many ways the perfect book for an older person on holiday: for on holiday there would be time to reflect on its messages.


(Note: I read the 2016 hardcover edition of this book, published by Tim Duggan Books.)

 

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