Good Reads

Boomers top five

Lighter we go: Virtues, character strengths and aging

By Mindy Greenstein and Jimmie Holland (2014) Oxford University Press

Greenstein and Holland show us that, contrary to common wisdom, our sense of wellbeing actually increases with our age, often even in the presence of illness or disability. Drawing from the authors' own personal, intergenerational friendship, as well as a broad array of research from many different areas, including social psychology, anthropology, neuroscience, humanities, psychiatry, and gerontology. Read a review by psychologist Dr Paul T. P. Wong.

Second Wind: Navigating the passage to a slower, deeper, and more connected life

By Dr Bill Thomson (2015) Simon & Schuster

Dr. Thomas is at the forefront of a strong nationwide movement to reframe “life after adulthood” as an exciting stage of human growth and development. In Second Wind, he explores the dreams and disappointments, the struggles and triumphs of a generation of 78 million people who once said they would never grow old and never trust anyone over thirty. Read a review by the Founders of the Spirituality and Practice website.

Our ageing brain

By André Aleman (2015) Scribe Publications

Our Ageing Brain is a refreshing, informative, and ultimately positive book about what happens to our brains as we grow older. Drawing on the latest research, it tells you what takes place in the brain and why, how to recognise the early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, and how to distinguish fact from fiction when it comes to ways to slow down the ageing process. It concludes with the seven most important things you can do to keep your brain healthy. Read an interview with the author in the Readers Digest.

Growing older without feeling old

By Rudi Westendorp (2015) Scribe Publications

What can we learn from old people who remain full of vitality, despite illness and infirmity? Growing Older without Feeling Old is the definitive book on a key issue for the 21st century, written by one of the world's leading experts in geriatric medicine. Combining medical, biological, economic, and sociological insights, Rudi Westendorp professor and author, explores the causes of the ageing revolution and explains how we can greet it with confidence and enjoy leading longer, healthier, and more productive lives than ever before. Watch an interview with the author at University of Copenhagen.

A long time coming: Essays on ageing

By Joosten, Melanie (2016) Scribe Publications

Weaving interviews with research and memoir, Joosten undertakes a timely and clear-sighted investigation into the housing crisis as it affects older people, the politics of nursing-home care, the difficulties of dementia, support services for Indigenous Australians, and how the burden of caring for others can fall disproportionately on women. Moving, passionate, and urgent, A Long Time Coming is a call for empathy in a society that valorises youth and self-reliance is a profound reminder that everyone has the right to be old. Listen to the author’s interview on ABC.

Local reads...

Stroppy old women: 52 Kiwi women, who've been around long enough to know, tell you what's wrong with the world

By Paul Little, Wendyl Nissen & Daniel Ellison (2015) Paul Little Books
Personal reflections from well-known Kiwi women of a certain age on topics ranging from ageing to architecture, shop assistants to short skirts, tablecloths to technology, and many more.

Elder law in New Zealand

(2014) Published by Thomson Reuters
This legal resource is written by contributors from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from legal and medical practitioners to elder law advocates and scholars, all of whom have applied their expertise to many of the legal issues encountered by New Zealand’s ageing population. Read a review in The New Zealand Medical Journal.

Ageing is living: Recipes for life

Age Concern (2013)
A positive ageing ‘cookbook’ that punches above its weight with loads of ideas and tips for sharing knowledge, skills, experience, memories and stories. Real tried and true recipes for living and giving. You can order a free hard copy at Age Concern’s website.

Spirited ageing: Cultivating the art of renewal

By Juliet Batten (2013) Ishtar Books (available from
Preparing for ageing is as important as preparing for childbirth, yet most people enter into the last stage of life without a clear intention. Heralded as the book the baby boomers have been waiting for, Juliet Batten brings together the skills of a storyteller, scholar and psychotherapist to ask some penetrating questions and redefine ageing. Read Jo's review

Facing age: A practical guide for families

By Nancye Bourke (2005) Exisle
As the baby boomers age, increasing numbers of people are facing difficult questions about the care of their parents and how they themselves will cope with retirement. Another local book full of good sense and sound advice. Doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff.

And what now? 

By Ros Capper (2013) Reinventors (available from
Using her own journey and the wisdom of her years as a group facilitator, Ros Capper provides the reader with the ideas and notebook space to examine their own lives in a positive and helpful way, as they ask the question on many lips as we age: and what now?

Loving all of it

Edited by Gordon McLauchlan (2010) Random House 
Well-known writer Gordon McLauchlan, now in his 80s, approached a bunch of fellow senior citizens and invited them to write about growing old. A great idea, and an entertaining, sometimes inspiring, read from a selection of eminent New Zealanders.

Ready for anything: Growing older in New Zealand: what you need to know

By Catriona MacLennan (2009) HarperCollins Publishers
Practical advice on putting legal and financial affairs in order in older age. Information on things like power of attorney, wills, living options, and much more.

Visible: 60 women at 60

By Jenny O’Connor (2014)
A collection of 60 portraits of women who are 60, with words or wisdom and insight written by the women themselves.

Mental Health MAR 2010 CF028931Other top reads...

In praise of ageing

By Patricia Edgar (2013) Text Publishing
Australians are staying healthy and living longer than ever before. Yet rather than focusing on the productive, rich, varied lives older people lead we dwell on the burden of ageing. In Praise of Ageing tells the stories of eight people who have lived well into their nineties and beyond. These people will inspire you, entertain you and motivate you to be connected, interested, risk-taking and inventive. They will challenge your preconceptions. And they will convince you that fifty is now the start of the second half of life and not the beginning of the end. Listen to an interview with the author on ABC Lifematters.

Being Mortal: Illness, medicine and what matters in the end

By Atul Gawande (2014) Profile Books
Atul Gawande explores aged care in the US with examples of brilliant initiatives and how they’ve been eroded. He also looks at the dilemmas faced by doctors, families and patients of managing bodily decline when there is no possibility of cure. Gawande, whose credits include being a Harvard professor and staff writer for the New Yorker, presents many ideas and options that are relevant to New Zealanders... Read Katherine's review

Out of time: The pleasures & perils of ageing

By Lynne Segal, introduction by Elaine Showalter (2014) Verso
Feminist, writer, activist and baby boomer, Lynne Segal, dissects the process of ageing – particularly for women – with formidable intellect, imagination and wit. Segal’s aim is to discover “cultural narratives that we might draw upon to provide more nuanced thoughts on ageing” than those currently on offer... Read Katherine's review

The aging mind: An owner’s manual

By Patrick Rabbitt (2015) Routledge
Engagingly written, UK Professor Patrick Rabbitt looks at why your sensory and cognitive experiences change as you get older, and what these developments mean for your overall physical and emotional wellbeing.

The village effect

By Susan Pinker (2014) Random House
Canadian psychologist Susan Pinker shows how face-to-face contact is crucial for learning, happiness, resilience and longevity.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Ageing: Providing effective support through understanding life stories

Edited by Richard Ward, Ian Rivers and Mike Sutherland (2012) Jessica Kingsley Publishers
This book demonstrates how biographical approaches can increase understanding about the distinct perspectives of older LGBT people, enhancing inclusive care and support. Chapters explore people's expectations and fears surrounding care and service provision, the impact of discrimination, and specific issues such as HIV, dementia and end-of-life care. The importance of understanding people's whole lives in order to meet their needs is demonstrated, drawing on the examples of community projects that provide services and build networks. The voices of older LGBT people are heard throughout the book through the use of case examples and original research. Read a review on the American Psychological Association website.

The Longevity Project

By Howard S. Freedman, PhD & Leslie R. Martin PhD. (2011) Penguin Group/Plume Books
“It’s not the happy go lucky who survive, it’s the prudent and persistent.” That’s one of the key findings in this challenging analysis of 80 years of the Terman Study in the US. One of the few longevity studies in existence, it questions some of the current discourses on what it takes to achieve a long and healthy life.

And just for fun… and superb writing: The Oldie

It’s a magazine, but it’s got to be somewhere on our recommended list. It’s now 20 years since former Private Eye editor Richard Ingrams launched this delightful antidote to youth culture.

It’s witty, well-written, and well worth a subscription, or at least persuading your local library to subscribe to. Have an online peek at