Thoughts From A Year Running A Bookclub About Aging

I started a book club with the good people of Aging2.0 in lockdown. I’m fascinated by all things related to an ageing society and realised I was spending a lot of time (and money) on books about this topic. I found them inspiring but really wanted to get more from the authors and thought I was not alone, so thought I’d do something about it.

I had never been a member of a book club in my life and wasn’t much of a reader as a child, so was a bit daunted. I figured I’d give mine a twist of having the author join a Zoom call for a Q&A discussion at the end of each reading cycle. To be honest, it is as much conversation/Q&A with the author as conventional Book Club, but convention was never my thing.

Thankfully the business of aging is full of terrific people. I have had the pleasure of conversations with some great authors and a diverse, knowledgeable and global group of attendees.

My first author and book was Carl Honore — Bolder. I loved this book so much I doubled up on it (audiobook and paperback). Many things within it resonated from the experience of wearing an aging suit or the Gateshead Hockey tournament, which sparked Carl’s things. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the Bookclub! The optimistic nature of the book struck a chord with me. Carl is also an excellent speaker so having him share some of his anecdotes and perspective got us off to the best possible start.

Next up was something a little bit different — Louise Aronson’s Elderhood. Given her expertise, the book is a fascinating look at how society considers older adults and the beautiful simplicity of naming and defining the life stage following childhood and adulthood. There are some very personal moments in the book, and talking to someone in her position in the middle of a pandemic was a privilege. I listened to the audiobook during spring walks in the depth of the first UK national lockdown.

For the third book, I thought we’d try something a bit different. Wendy Mayhew is a force of nature and her book Wiser is a great practical guide to setting up a business after the age of 50. We had a fascinating discussion about what this means to an aging society and where this might go in the future. As with so many areas relating to aging, it is simple: Of course, people start businesses later in life and have a great success rate in what they do. It is just not widely talked about and currently that popular to invest in.

Chip Conley was next with his book Widom at Work The Making of a Modern Elder. He joined us from across the pond and despite a dodgy internet connection shared some fascinating context to the book and his academy. Chip is a compelling speaker. His story of being a mentor and mentee at Air BnB contained some gold — the opportunity for self-development and being open to new things stood out even if surfing isn’t on my list anytime soon!

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Photo by Aaron Andrew Ang on Unsplash

To close the year, we had Andrew J Scott, and we focused on his latest book, The New Longer Life. We had another global attendance, and the perspective of an Economist was illuminating. Multi-stage lives and challenging many stereotypes got people talking and left me feeling optimistic for our future — quite an achievement as we were in the UK’s second national lockdown at this point.

Much more to follow and I’m already excited about plans for 2021. Having something to look forward to is always a good thing, and the people I have met as part of this process has been inspiring. It has left me with a few critical thoughts:

No matter where we live, the issues are broadly similar, and curiosity is a beautiful habit that regularly gets bashed out of us. All of the books had this at the core — Louise Aronson’s view of why not do something different being a prime example.

Interest in aging is growing. I often talk about being early at a party as a marketing specialist in this area. I feel a bit more confident a party is starting soon! The breadth of attendees is a testament to this, and many people are doing great things in this space

The business of aging attracts some lovely people. I have had conversations here with people I would never have otherwise, and I hope I have been able to play a small part in connecting audiences with books and authors they might not have followed up.

Talking with an author is even more illuminating than I hoped. As the events have grown, it is satisfying to enable a debate/discussion amongst a diverse group of people with a common thread of interest.

Multiple format book purchases are much better than I remembered! Rereading/listening to parts are very helpful indeed.

I’m based in the UK where we use Ageing rather than Aging! I can be found in all the usual places under the tag greyafro

Main photo by Pixabay on Pexels