How to Live

How to Live

A Search for Wisdom From Old People (while They Are Still on This Earth)

Book - 2009
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In this witty guide for seekers of all ages, author Henry Alford seeks instant enlightenment through conversations with those who have lived long and lived well. Armed with recent medical evidence that supports the cliche that older people are, indeed, wiser, Alford sets off to interview people over 70--some famous (Phyllis Diller, Harold Bloom, Edward Albee), some accomplished (the world's most-quoted author, a woman who walked across the country at age 89 in support of campaign finance reform), some unusual (a pastor who thinks napping is a form of prayer, a retired aerospace engineer who eats food out of the garbage.) Early on in the process, Alford interviews his 79 year-old mother and step-father, and inadvertently changes the course of their 36 year-long union. Part family memoir, part Studs Terkel, How To Live considers some unusual sources--deathbed confessions, late-in-life journals--to deliver a highly optimistic look at our dying days. By showing that life after 70 is the fulfillment of, not the end to, life's questions and trials, How to Live delivers that most unexpected punch: it makes you actually *want* to get older.
Publisher: New York : Twelve, c2009.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780446196031
0446196037
Branch Call Number: 155. 67 ALF
Characteristics: 262 p.

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dgr May 18, 2013

I enjoyed this book and had a few laughs in the process. It had some interesting elements and showed that wisdom doesn't always result in "normal" behavior (if it ever does) and that old folks can make mistakes and play games like anyone else. Alford was clever and insightful and I enjoyed some of his "famous deathbed quotes" and the story of his cat and the hurricane survivor. Given that he wasn't interested in turning his interviewees into paragons, I was suprised about his interview with the woman on the cruise ship. When she observed an older man advertising for a younger female companion, she referred to it as "sexism" (or as I prefer, "genderism") but really it was age-ism. Especially since there are plenty of older women who are interested in younger men and that's not genderist or age-ist as long as the woman is picking up the check. I would have loved it if he'd picked her up on her tendency to go with the easy, knee-jerk complaint choice. Altogether, a very enjoyable book.

hgeng63 Apr 13, 2013

One of Alford's better bks about his upper class family. Hilarious bits about Eugene Loh, senior freegan.

LMcShaneCLE Nov 13, 2012

Worth having on the bedside. Can be read out of sequence. Alford's relationship with his mother as she confronts aging is worth the analysis here. Dynamics of his family is intriguing and the bonds we try to salvage and those we discard.

t
Taro67
Aug 13, 2012

A heartwarming, yet humorous look at family, aging, and the getting of wisdom. A quick, uplifting read which has led me to seek out more books by this author.

m
mswendybe
Jun 24, 2012

Funny and touching. Interviews with an eclectic selection of "old folks".

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