Drawing on more than six decades' worth of lessons from his storied career as a writer and professor, Willard Spiegelman reflects with candid humor and sophistication on growing old. Senior Moments is a series of discrete essays that, when taken together, constitute the life of a man who, despite Western cultural notions of aging as something to be denied, overcome, and resisted, has continued to relish the simplest of pleasures: reading, looking at art, talking, and indulging in occasional fits of nostalgia while also welcoming what inevitably lies ahead.
Spiegelman's expertly crafted book considers, with wisdom and elegance, how to be alert to the joys that brim from unexpected places even as death draws near. Senior Moments is a foray into the felicity and follies that age brings; a consideration of how and what one reads or rereads in late adulthood; the eagerness for, and disappointment in, long-awaited reunions, at which the past comes alive in the present. A clear-eyed book of memories, written in eight searching and courageously honest essays, Senior Moments is guaranteed to stimulate, stir, and restore.
In this poignant and inciting collection of literary essays, Megan Stielstra tells stories to ward off fears both personal and universal as she grapples toward a better way to live. In her titular piece “The Wrong Way To Save Your Life,” she answers the question of what has value in our lives—a question no longer rhetorical when the apartment above her family’s goes up in flames. “Here is My Heart” sheds light on Megan’s close relationship with her father, whose continued insistence on climbing mountains despite a series of heart attacks leads the author to dissect deer hearts in a poetic attempt to interrogate her own feelings about mortality.
Whether she's imagining the implications of open-carry laws on college campuses, recounting the story of going underwater on the mortgage of her first home, or revealing the unexpected pains and joys of marriage and motherhood, Stielstra's work informs, impels, enlightens, and embraces us all. The result is something beautiful—this story, her courage, and, potentially, our own.
Intellectually fierce and viscerally intimate, Megan Stielstra's voice is witty, wise, warm, and above all, achingly human.
“Stielstra is a masterful essayist.”—Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist and Hunger
An intimate, moving book written with the immediacy and directness of one who still struggles with the effects of mental and chronic illness, The Collected Schizophrenias cuts right to the core. Schizophrenia is not a single unifying diagnosis, and Esmé Weijun Wang writes not just to her fellow members of the “collected schizophrenias” but to those who wish to understand it as well. Opening with the journey toward her diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, Wang discusses the medical community’s own disagreement about labels and procedures for diagnosing those with mental illness, and then follows an arc that examines the manifestations of schizophrenia in her life. In essays that range from using fashion to present as high-functioning to the depths of a rare form of psychosis, and from the failures of the higher education system and the dangers of institutionalization to the complexity of compounding factors such as PTSD and Lyme disease, Wang’s analytical eye, honed as a former lab researcher at Stanford, allows her to balance research with personal narrative. An essay collection of undeniable power, The Collected Schizophrenias dispels misconceptions and provides insight into a condition long misunderstood.
But it is hard to separate "real" happiness from the banal self-help version that embraces mindless positive thinking. And though we have two booming "happiness industries"—religion, with its promise of salvation, and psychopharmacology, with its promise of better living through chemistry—each comes with its own problems and complications.
In Seven Pleasures, Willard Spiegelman takes a look at the possibilities for achieving ordinary secular happiness without recourse to either religion or drugs. In this erudite and frequently hilarious book of essays, he discusses seven activities that lead naturally and easily to a sense of well-being. One of these—dancing—requires a partner, and therefore provides a lesson in civility, or good citizenship, as one of its benefits. The other six—reading, walking, looking, listening, swimming, and writing—are things one performs alone. Seven Pleasures is a marvelously engaging guide to the pursuit of happiness, and all its accompanying delights.
An extraordinary look at what it means to grow old and a heartening guide to well-being, Happiness Is a Choice You Make weaves together the stories and wisdom of six New Yorkers who number among the “oldest old”— those eighty-five and up.
In 2015, when the award-winning journalist John Leland set out on behalf of The New York Times to meet members of America’s fastest-growing age group, he anticipated learning of challenges, of loneliness, and of the deterioration of body, mind, and quality of life. But the elders he met took him in an entirely different direction. Despite disparate backgrounds and circumstances, they each lived with a surprising lightness and contentment. The reality Leland encountered upended contemporary notions of aging, revealing the late stages of life as unexpectedly rich and the elderly as incomparably wise.
Happiness Is a Choice You Make is an enduring collection of lessons that emphasizes, above all, the extraordinary influence we wield over the quality of our lives. With humility, heart, and wit, Leland has crafted a sophisticated and necessary reflection on how to “live better”—informed by those who have mastered the art.
Originally published in 1989.
The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
In our youth obsessed culture, we’re bombarded by media images and messages about the despairs and declines of our later years. Beauty and pharmaceutical companies work overtime to convince people to purchase products that will retain their youthful appearance and vitality. Wrinkles are embarrassing. Gray hair should be colored and bald heads covered with implants. Older minds and bodies are too frail to keep up with the pace of the modern working world and olders should just step aside for the new generation.
Ashton Applewhite once held these beliefs too until she realized where this prejudice comes from and the damage it does. Lively, funny, and deeply researched, This Chair Rocks traces her journey from apprehensive boomer to pro-aging radical, and in the process debunks myth after myth about late life. Explaining the roots of ageism in history and how it divides and debases, Applewhite examines how ageist stereotypes cripple the way our brains and bodies function, looks at ageism in the workplace and the bedroom, exposes the cost of the all-American myth of independence, critiques the portrayal of elders as burdens to society, describes what an all-age-friendly world would look like, and offers a rousing call to action.
It’s time to create a world of age equality by making discrimination on the basis of age as unacceptable as any other kind of bias. Whether you’re older or hoping to get there, this book will shake you by the shoulders, cheer you up, make you mad, and change the way you see the rest of your life. Age pride!
“Wow. This book totally rocks. It arrived on a day when I was in deep confusion and sadness about my age. Everything about it, from my invisibility to my neck. Within four or five wise, passionate pages, I had found insight, illumination, and inspiration. I never use the word empower, but this book has empowered me.”
—Anne Lamott, New York Times bestselling author