Here are some GREAT books useful to your Sage-ing journey!
CLASSIC MUST READSSchachter-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.”
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.
OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS
Note: these books have not been critically evaluated by a selection committee.
Helen Wilkes, Aging of Aquarius: Engaging Passion and Purpose as an Elder. New Society Pubs. 2018Reading The Aging of Aquarius touched me deeply, speaking to both mind and heart. Helen Wilkes brings core concepts alive with deeply moving stories and examples from the life of a woman who clearly understands and embodies the challenges and life-enhancing opportunities of growing into the fullness of true elderhood. In reading her beautiful book, I felt like I was personally engaging with a shining model of the kind of elder I aspire to grow into.”[ Ron Pevny, Director, Center for Conscious Eldering and author, of Conscious Living, Conscious Aging.]
Bart Windrum, The Promised Landing: a Gateway to Peaceful Dying , Axiom Action Pubs. 2018 I truly think this guy is a brilliant original thinker, fueled by the disasters of his bad (unemphatic, mistake-ridden) parents’ hospital deaths, but he’s gone far beyond that now. His taxonomy of ways we die will provide food for thought for policy analysts, “better death” citizens’ groups, and anyone with the courage to look death in the face and the curiosity to pick up an important intellectual tool: an accurate description of the various ways we die in an era of high tech medicine. This book requires patience, but it’s worth it. [Katy Butler on Amazon]
Lynn B. Robinson, Loving to the End…and On: a Guide to the Impossibly Possible, Balboa. 2018.This book is beneficial to anyone facing death —their own, a friend, or a family member. … the many benefits of this book [range]from personal experiences to important, practical advice about the legal, medical, and emotional decisions that must be made at the end of life. This is a book well worth reading and keeping. [Lourana Howard on Amazon]
Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush, Walking Each Other Home: Conversation on Loving and Dying, Sounds True, 2018. This book is so beautiful inside and out. From the heartfelt conversations and explorations of some usually sad topics, to the gorgeous illustrations, to the meditations and fear releasing techniques. Thanks to Ram Dass and Mirabai for putting this together in a way that keeps our hearts open. [Kelly Rego on Amazon]
Jenkinson, Stephen, Come of Age: The Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble , North Atlantic Bks. 20180. “Stephen Jenkinson has a way of reaching right into the heart of Western culture’s dis-ease, all the while deftly rupturing and turning the English language inside out in order to do so. He traces the roots of the word elder to ‘coming to fullness’ or ‘fully realized,’ to one who may take their place among us only when the ebbing and failure of growth is admitted.” — Ruth Jones, founder of Holy Hiatus, Wales, UK
Touchstone, Sally Tisdale, Advice for Future Corpses: A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying. “In its loving, fierce specificity, this book on how to die is also a blessedly saccharine-free guide for how to live. . . . Tisdale does not write to allay anxieties but to acknowledge them, and she brings death so close, in such detail and with such directness, that something unusual happens, something that feels a bit taboo. She invites not just awe or dread—but our curiosity. And why not? We are, after all, just ‘future corpses pretending we don’t know.’” — New York Times
Palmer, Parker, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity & Getting Old (Berrett-Koehler Publishers 2018). Why did I write this book? A lovely review in the May 28, 2018 edition of “Publishers Weekly” sums everything up in the last sentence: “Warm, generous, and funny, this impassioned book invites readers to the deep end of life where authentic soul work and human transformation become pressing concerns.” – Parker Palmer
Leland, John, Happiness is a choice You Make: Lessons from a Year Among the Oldest Old (Sarah Chrichton Books, 2018).”Loaded with charm, wisdom, and decades’ worth of personal anecdotes, it explores the ‘paradox of old age ‘and offers a startlingly simple solution: ‘If you want to be happy, learn to think like an old person.” ―Furthermore
Moore, Thomas, Ageless Soul. (St. Martins Pr. 2017). “Beautifully and eloquently written…Thomas Moore convinces us that we age best when we embrace our age, live agelessly, and remember every day to find the endless joy nestled inside our soul.” – Dr. Rudolph E. Tanzi, [Amazon]
Le Guin, Ursala K., No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters. (Houghton, Mifflin. 2017). “The trivially personal is a chief pleasure of this collection…The pages sparkle with lines that make a reader glance up, searching for an available ear with which to share them…‘Words are my skein of yarn, my lump of wet clay, my block of uncarved wood,’ [Le Guin] explains, and then quietly astounds us with the carving.”—The New York Times Book Review
Narboe, Nan, Aging, an Apprenticeship. (ed. Red Notebook Pr.2017). “ So many of us long for an ‘owner’s manual’ for both our lives and our bodies. These fastidiously curated essays are the perfect answer. With work from Judy Blume, Gloria Steinam, Kate Clinton, Ursula Le Guin, and many others, it both an excellent read, and an outstanding gift for someone you know”. — Marcus on Amazon. [Human Values in Aging]
Gullete, Margaret Morganroth Ending Ageism, or How Not to Shoot Old People (Rutgers Univ. Press, 2017). “Margaret Morganroth Gullette is one of the shining lights of age studies. For decades she has been sweeping her bright searchlight across the landscape of American social, political and popular culture to identify and analyze ageism wherever it lurks.” [Alix Kates Shulman author of Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen and Ménage]
Hoblitzelle, Olivia Ames, Aging with Wisdom (Monkfish. 2017. “Caution! Do not attempt to read this book rapidly. It is essential to pause and ponder after each brief reflection. For Olivia Hoblitzelle is a rare person and this is a rare book. The reader will be rewarded with a new paradigm to the challenge of aging with a treasure trove of inspirational insights and wisdom. A gem to be treasured!” — Rabbi Earl Grollman, author of 27 books including Living When a Loved One Has Died.
Buchwald, Art, Too Soon To Say Goodbye (Random House, 2006) [an oldie, but goodie] “Being in the hospice didn’t work out exactly as I had planned it,” begins Buchwald in what may or may not be his final book. In February 2006, Buchwald was told he would need ongoing dialysis, which he promptly decided to discontinue, moving into a Washington hospice to die on his own terms. What was intended to be a three-week exit for the Pulitzer Prize-winning author turned into months of visitors, rumination and writing. The result is this hilarious, sobering and unconventional study of the issues that accompany the end of life, such as living wills and surrogates, funerals, food and even sex. As he has throughout his career, Buchwald pares down overwhelming topics into manageable steps, gently and with humor, noting that, for instance “the beauty of not dying but expecting to, is that it gives you a chance to say goodbye to everybody,” and it’s these goodbyes that provide Buchwald with the framework to revisit his storied career-spanning two continents, populated by global luminaries and celebrated with multiple awards. Though entertaining as a talented satirist’s retrospective, it’s also a valuable primer on how to meet death with bravery and grace, reminding us that “the big question we still have to ask is not where we’re going, but what we were doing here in the first place.” — Publishers Weekly. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Goff, David “Lucky”, The Evolving Elder (2017). This author offers a rich view of what comprises elderhood. As a stage of human development, this view affords integration and a ripening of one’s life that not only benefits individuals but the collective unfoldment of Life on our planet. For example, in surviving a chronic catastrophic brain syndrome, the author himself was compelled to accept and work with uncertainty. He observes: “Living near death, being aware of the fragility of existence, seems to generate a different sense of perspective, one in which the unknown and the mysterious have a role.” When people learn this perspective from one another, the conditions are favorable for the development of larger, more complex wisdom at the personal and collective levels. Lucky’s insights call us to become the “new old” with compassion and wisdom that our world sorely needs. — Sandra Scotchler
Smith, Nell, Retire to the life you love: practical tools for designing your meaningful future (2014). Speaking as one who wears three hats as a professional career/vocational counselor, spiritual director, and “Certified Sage-ing Leader”, I am really impressed with the accessible, step-by-step process that Nell guides us through in progressive workbook fashion here. People too often think of themselves as “retiring from…” some career or other, rather than as “retiring to…” a new and awaited vocation or calling as a conscious elder. This book is terrific as a guide to prioritizing values on aging, and getting to work at implementing them. Highly recommended — Al Rider
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 Club. Will 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 Wisdom, 2011. 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 Years, 2009. 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 older, 2014. “…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 older, 2015. “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.
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 Dying, 1995.
Garrett, Stephen. When Death Speaks, Listen, Learn & Love, 2013. 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 Dying, 1997.
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 Dying, 2000. ‘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
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 Essays. How 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.
The Center for Conscious Eldering. www.centerforconsciouseldering.com.
Conscious Elders Network. www.consciouselders.org.
Spirituality & Practice–elder spirituality courses: Especially “Making Peace with Death and Dying” and “Living your Legacy.” http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/ecourses/course/filter/on-demand/elder-spirituality-e-courses.
“Human Values in Aging”/HR Moody. firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Changing Aging”/Wm Thomas. www.changingaging.org.