Books 2017-07-25T00:38:19+00:00

Reading List

Here are some GREAT books useful to your Sage-ing journey!


Schachter-Shalomi, Zalman, and Ronald S. Miller, From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Profound New Vision of Growing Older  A book that we draw great inspiration and wisdom from; the “bible” of conscious aging. Schachter-Shalomi is the inspirational Father of conscious aging and Sage-ing International.

Davidson, Sarah. The December Project, 2014. “Revelatory… the best rendering of Reb Zalman’s wisdom that I’ve come across… (Davidson’s) transformation seems to have come simply from being in the elder sage’s presence — and seeing that there’s a real person behind the ‘sage.’ Thanks to The December Project, we can taste some of that presence ourselves.”  Jay Michaelson

Books by members of our Council of Honored Sages

Arrien, Angeles, The Second Half of Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom is a wonderful companion to the tasks of deepening as we age. Arrien takes readers through a series of spiritual gates with the use of poetry and imagery and ends each chapter with helpful exercises to reflect on one’s own journey.

Atchley, Robert, Spirituality and Aging  A wise and important work that could make a difference in the way aging persons and gerontologists think about spirituality and aging.

Baldwin, Christina and Ann Linnea, The Circle Way: A Leader in Every Chair  Meetings in the round have become the preferred tool for moving individual commitment into group action.

Goldman, Connie, Who Am I Now that I’m Not Who I Was? includes 18 interviews with women who share deeply personal insights and gifts that come with age, and becoming authentic and “real.”

Leider, Richard and David Shapiro, Something to Live For—A small book with a big message (See also their earlier book, Claiming Your Place at the Fire).

Lustbader, Wendy, Life Gets Better: The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Older,  contains the collected wisdom of Lustbader and many others she has interviewed, highlighting the emotional, spiritual, and intellectual gifts of aging well.

Moody, Harry, The Five Stages of the Soul , A groundbreaking book that interweaves twenty years of case studies and research in the field of aging with an exhaustive knowledge of psychology, religion and literature.

Thomas, William, What are Old People For? How Elders Will Save the World,  is one of the best recent books on elders and their important place in society.


Note: these books have not been critically evaluated by a selection committee.

Newly added:

Every, Marilyn Loy, Tending the Fire: Accolades from Admired Sages (2016). With graceful and artistic expression, Marilyn Loy Every courageously engages readers at the heart level through her sacred, mesmeric poetry. She is a prolific visionary for the sage archetype emerging in our culture, and a creative guide in manifesting vibrant possibilities for vital, conscious aging. Her poems connect issues of aging with raw hope and fresh perspective, ultimately gifting us with our own wise reflections. Tending the Fire prompts deep musings relative to envisioning our precious lives well-lived, each poem truly a priceless gift! — Joan Borysenko, PhD

Pearson, Debbie, Age Your Way, 2016. “Debbie has done an amazing job of guiding us through the always challenging planning progress of our aging and inevitable decline. Her decades of experience and wonderful spirit ring true on every page. Using both her book and workbook as a template will help all of us better predict, identify formal and informal resources to make informed decisions to then “age your way.” These are my new go to books professionally and as a social worker/care manager I recommend them to my clients.”– L. Cohen

Schwalbe, Will, The End of Your Life Book ClubWill Schwalbe’s memoir of his mother’s death from pancreatic cancer. “Mary Anne [Schwalbe] loves a good book as ardently as she loves her kids and her causes, chief among them a campaign to build a library in Afghanistan. When her health starts to fail, Will joins her for hospital appointments. They wait, they talk, and they read together–everything they’ve ever wanted to discuss. As much an homage to literature as to the mother who shared it with him, Will’s chronicle of this heartrending time opens up his captivating family to the rest of us.” — Mia Lipman [Kathy Spivey]

Rowan, Colman, We Are All Made of Stars, 2015. We’are All Made of Stars covers a week in an English Hospice and Rehabilitation Center with a cast of characters including those nearing death, the caring nursing staff, the visitors and the final letters of some written down by Stella, one of the night nurses.

Kinsley, Michael, Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide. “Hilarious. . . Witty. . . If it’s possible for a book about illness and death to be delightful, this one fills the bill.” Phillip Lopate, The New York Times Book Review

Stah, Leslie,  Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting 2016. “[An] energetic, informative, and often touching book….Stahl includes stories of generational conflict and  plentiful glimpses of her family’s joys and those of many others…No matter where readers fall in age or experience, this book should top their 2016 reading list of parenting titles.” Publishers Weekly

Bateson, Mary Catherine. Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom2011. Bateson redefines old age as an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and challenges us to use it to pursue new sources of meaning and ways to contribute to society.

Butler, Robert. The Longevity Revolution: Benefits and Challenges of Living a Long Life,  2008.  A pioneering, Pulitzer Prize-winning doctor reflects on the recent unprecedented leap in human life expectancy—and what we must do to take advantage of it.

Chittister, Joan, The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully, is a book of reflection on aging written by a very wise woman. It is somewhat biblically oriented. Each chapter is short and includes interesting questions to contemplate. Each chapter could be a daily meditation.

Cowan, Rabbi Rachel & Linda Thal. Wise Aging: Living with Joy, Resilience & Spiri, 2015. “This wonderfully straightforward, intelligent invitation to age wisely is rousing and inspiring at the same time that it is consoling and comforting”  Sylvia Boorstein

Dychtwald, Ken and Daniel Kadlec, A New Purpose: Redefining Money, Family, Work, Retirement and Success. Happiness in life is about more than what’s in your bank account or stock portfolio. Success is more than achieving power and respect. Each one of us has a responsibility for changing the world in a positive, significant, and enduring way.

Gawande, Atul, In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending

Hennezel, Marie de.  The Art of Growing Old: Aging with Grace (tr. by Sue Dyson). 2010. A subject which all of us deal with, or hope to, and the author is a wise guide on our shared pilgrimage.

Lawrence-Lightfoot, Sara. The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years after 50, 2009. A compilation of sociological research on a number of people as they age. It helps give readers a broad perspective on many of the tasks and hurdles of aging and make them seem normal.

Pevny, Ron. Conscious Living, Conscious Aging,  2014. A new model for aging that is contemporary yet grounded in time-honored wisdom, focusing on aging’s potential for growth, passion, purpose, service, and spiritual exploration.  Pevny encourages readers to stop viewing aging as the twilight of their lives and welcome in a new dawn by not just growing old, but by aging consciously.

Milstein, Mike. Resilient Aging: Making the Most of Your Older Years2009. A valuable tool for flexible living, especially for the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s age group.

Richmond, Lewis. Aging as a Spiritual Practice,  2012. Thoughtful, truthful, loving, Lewis Richmond helps us bring attention to the mystery of aging with great kindness and wisdom. [Jack Kornfield].

Robinson, John C., Bedtime Stories for Elders. “A guide to finding hidden wisdom in classic tales … a rich feast.” Jonathan Young, PhD, Founding Curator, Joseph Campbell Archives

Robinson, John C.,  The Three Secrets of Aging. The first wave of 76 million ‘Baby Boomers,’ representing 28 percent of the American population, turns 65 in 2011 and they will live longer than any previous generation in history – at least 15 years more than their parents! – creating an entirely new stage of human life.

Rohr, Richard. Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, 2011. A short yet deeply moving book which provides an understanding of how the heartbreaks and disappointments of life’s first half can be stepping stones to the spiritual joys that are possible in the second half of life.

Roszak, Theodore. The Making of an Elder Culture , 2009. Forty years after his first book on the subject, Roszak examines the way in which the past values of the boomer generation can be made relevant to an elder-dominated society. (see other books by this author).

Singh, Kathleen Dowling. The Grace in Aging: awaken as you grow older2014. “…the hidden nature of old age as a practice stands fully revealed with all the potential for fulfillment of a true spiritual path.” Rachel Naomi Remen.

Weber, Robert & Carol Orsborn. The Spirituality of Age: a seeker’s guide to growing older2015. “The authors each respond to each of the 25 questions themselves, a unique approach that is not ponderous or heavy-handed. I found myself leaving the safety of reader-as-spectator and entering the provocation of reader-as-participant.” Wendy Lustbader

Life Review and Legacy

Edgar, Robin. In My Mother’s Kitchen: An Introduction to the Healing Power of Reminiscence. Tree House Enterprises, 2003.

Freed, Rachael. Women’s Lives, Women’s Legacies. Fairview Press. 2nd Ed. 2012.

Facing Mortality

Albom, Mitch. Tuesdays with Morrie. Doubleday, 1997.

Byock, Ira, Dying Well: Peace and Possibilities at the End of Life, 1997.  A sensitively-written book that tells many stories of death and dying, both positive and negative, from the perspective of a hospice physician.

Callanan, Maggie and Patricia Kelley. Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs and Communications of the Dying1995.

Garrett, Stephen. When Death Speaks, Listen, Learn & Love2013. Approaches death with compassion, love and frankness, talking openly about death, planning for the inevitable, and supporting family and friends with tools and skills to begin a new type of conversation. The practices offered are designed to use ‘smaller deaths’ as preparation for the death of our body.

Kubler-Ross, Elizabeth. On Death and Dying1997.

Levine, Stephen. A Year to Live: How to Live This Year As if it were Your Last, 1997. Imagine that you only have one year left to live. What would you do differently? For one year Stephen Levine consciously chose activities, relationships, and spiritual practices that reflected life’s urgency rather than life’s complacency.

Quinlan, Kathie, Blessing Our Goodbyes.  Resource Publications, 2011.  This beautifully written book offers wisdom and hope to anyone who is facing the death of a loved one or for those who would like guidance about preparing for their own deaths someday.  Through stories culled from her 20 years as director of Isaiah House.

Singh, Kathleen Dowling. Grace in Dying2000.  ‘Right from the start Kathleen Dowling Singh proclaims: “Dying is safe. You are safe. Your loved one is safe. That is the message of all the words here.” True to her promise, Dowling Singh walks us through the final stages of death with complete honesty, yet she manages to quell the ultimate fear of dying.

Wyatt, Karen M., M.D. What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying, 2011. Chronicles the life transformations experienced by Dr. Wyatt’s hospice patients during their final days, and taps their wisdom to offer guidance for living well by keeping in mind what is truly important.


Kraybill, Donald B., Steven M. Nolt and Weaver Zercher,  Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy.  2010, Wiley, Hoboken, NJ.

Tipping, Colin. Radical Forgiveness, 2009. “This superb book makes genuine forgiveness possible enabling us to move beyond pain and heal our lives.” John Bradshaw

Philosophical Homework

Goleman, Daniel. Social Intelligence 2007. Describing what happens to our brain when we connect with others. (See other books by this author).

Goldberg, Elkhonon.The Wisdom Paradox: How Your Mind Can Grow Stronger as Your Brain Grows Older.  2005.

Vaillant, George, Spiritual Evolution 2008.  “In this inspirational and scientifically brilliant essay on human nature, Dr. Vaillant defends the love, hope, joy, compassion, awe, forgiveness and faith that together form our naturally evolved spiritual essence.” Stephen Post  [See also other books by this author]

Gergen, Ken and Mary, Paths to Positive Aging: Dog Days with a Bone and Other EssaysHow does positivity move towards enlightenment? When does reflection on experience lead to wisdom? In this book of short essays, stories, and personal photos about themselves, their friends, family, and other elder experts, the pioneering editors of the Positive Aging Newsletter, Mary and Ken Gergen, offer means to grace your life with purpose and passion. ~ Peter Whitehouse, MD, 

Retirement, finances, second career

Blair, Pamela D.  Getting Older Better: The Best Advice Ever on Money, Health, Creativity, Sex, Work, Retirement, and More. 2014. “Pamela Blair is a holistic psychotherapist, spiritual counselor, and personal coach with a private practice. With great élan, Blair covers a wide-range of material in thematic chapters on self-image, minds, emotions, fears, love, lives and relationships, spiritual self, creative self, health, living spaces, families, friends, play, work, and finances. She has spiced up this material with a batch of lively and thought-provoking quotations.” Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat (Spirituality and Practice)

Freedman, Marc. The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage beyond Midlife. PublicAffairs, 2011.

Dychtwald, Ken and Daniel Kadlec. A New Purpose: Redefining Money, Family, Work, Retirement and Success.  2009. Each of us has a responsibility for changing the world in a positive, significant, and enduring way—and the challenge is less daunting than you might think. (See other books by these authors as well)

Other older books which continue to have value

Bolen, Jean Shinoda. Crones Don’t Whine. Conari Press. 2003.

Brennan, Anne and Janice Brewi. Passion for Life: Lifelong Psychological and Spiritual Growth. Continuum. 1999.

Carter, Jimmy. The Virtues of Aging. Ballentine. 1998.

Chopra, Deepak. Grow Younger, Live Longer. Harmony Books. 2001.

Cohen, Gene D. The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain. Basic Books. 2005. (See also other books by this author).

Fischer, Kathleen. Winter Grace. Upper Room Books. 1998.

Fishel, Ruth. Wrinkles Don’t Hurt: Daily Meditations on the Joy of Aging Mindfully. Health Communications. 2011.

Hillman, James. The Force of Character and the Lasting Life. Ballantine Books, NY, 1999.

Hollis, James. Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally Really Grow Up, Gotham Books. 2005.

Leder, Drew. Spiritual Passages: Embracing Life’s Sacred Journey. Tarcher. 1997.

Millner, Nancy Bost. Creative Aging: Discovering the Unexpected Joys of Later Life through Personality    Type. Davies-Black. 1997.

Raines, Robert. A Time to Live: Seven Tasks of Creative Aging.  Plume. 1997.

Remen, Rachel Naomi. My Grandfather’s Blessings Riverhead Books, 2000. [See other books by this author],

Ram Dass. Still Here. Riverhead Books. 2000.

Robinson, John. Death of a Hero, Birth of the Soul: Answering the Call of Midlife. Council Oak Books. 1995.

Sewell, Marilyn, Ed. Breaking Free: Women of Spirit at Midlife and Beyond. Beacon Press. 2004.

Stone, Marika and Howard. Too Young To Retire: 101 Ways to Start the Rest of Your Life. Plume, 2002.

Trafford, Abigail. My Time: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life. Basic Books, 2004.

Weil, Andrew. Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guild to Your Physical and Spiritual Well-Being. Knopf, 2005.

Wei, Jeanne and Sue Levkoff. Aging Well. John Wiley & Sons. 2000.

Helpful Links:

The Center for Conscious Eldering.

Conscious Elders Network.

Spirituality & Practice–elder spirituality courses: Especially “Making Peace with Death and Dying” and “Living your Legacy.”


“Human Values in Aging”/HR Moody.

“Changing Aging”/Wm Thomas.