Ready for a road trip this summer? How about understanding ageism? Looking for some inspiration on how to save the world? Let’s keep it On the Brightside this summer with fabulous reads to spark the imagination, keep the mind curious and be thoroughly entertained for hours.
Resilience for Older Americans
Our first of three lists is based on Seattle Public Library’s Resilience for Older Americans Month. It includes personal and public journeys of discovery and activism in fiction and nonfiction.
- Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-first Century, by Jessica Bruder The 2021 Oscar winner for Best Picture and Best Director is based on Bruder’s expose of the lives of older adults who have taken to the road in RVs to work in a succession of low-paying jobs while forming a community of the houseless, but not homeless.
- This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, by Ashton Applewhite In this book, Applewhite argues that ageism has caught the baby boomers by surprise, but as with other forms of discrimination, it reveals itself on both personal and societal levels.
- How Seniors Are Saving the World: Retirement Activism to the Rescue, by Thelma Reese Read brief portraits of senior social activists who speak in their own voices about their renewed commitments to activism after retirement.
- Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life, by Louise Aronson As a physician, Aronson looks at our Act III years by drawing from science, medicine, history, anthropology, literature and pop culture—showing us how to see aging differently.
- On the Bright Side: The New Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 85 Years Old, by Hendrik Groen Groen lives in a Dutch care home and is an active member of the “Old But Not Dead Club.” With wry humor, club members address the daily indignities of aging.
Eclectic Summer Mix
For a truly mixed bag of unique and interesting titles to sample this summer, try any or all of these best sellers.
- Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, by Kathleen Rooney At 85 years old, Lillian is a retired advertising executive with Macy’s who’s lived in NYC for over 50 years. On New Year’s, she takes a walk a meets a cast of Manhattan denizens.
- Bittersweet: How Sorrow & Longing Make Us Whole, by Susan Cain Kirkus The author of Quiet turns her attention to how sorrow and longing can be transformed into creativity and love.
- Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf Addie and Louis, both widowed, have known each other for decades in the small town of Holt, Colorado. Addie has a proposition for Louis, which ultimately shakes both of their quiet lives.
- Wastelands: The True Story of Farm Country on Trial, by Corban Addison See how a cadre of dedicated lawyers and long-suffering North Carolina families fought, and won, against Big Pork.
- Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout Lucy Barton is a writer, but her ex-husband, William, remains a hard man to read. Discover why the two remain connected all these years.
Bill Gates’ Summer Book List
And finally, Bill Gates has a share-worthy summer book list. Though they’re seemingly heavy topics for vacation reading — gender equality, political polarization, climate change, and hard truths of life — Gates says they, “don’t feel heavy” (minus the nearly 600-page Lincoln Highway).
- The Power, by Naomi Alderman By asking what would happen if all the women in the world suddenly gained the power to produce deadly electric shocks, this book explores gender roles and gender equality.
- Why We’re Polarized, by Ezra Klein When it comes to the increasing polarization in America, Klein argues the cause of this split is identity—the human instinct to let our group identities guide our decision making.
- The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles Set in 1954, this book is about two brothers trying to drive from Nebraska to California to find their mother. It illustrates how personal journeys are never as linear or predictable as we might hope.
- The Ministry for the Future, by Kim Stanley Robinson On the topic of climate change, Robinson presents a stimulating and engaging story, spanning decades and continents, packed with fascinating ideas and people.
- How the World Really Works, by Vaclav Smil If you want a brief but thorough education in numeric thinking about the fundamental forces that shape human life, this is it.