Sunday, August 28, 2016

Summer Reading 2016 Old Age: A Beginner's Guide


Although this is not my usual choice of reading material, it was described in a way that caught my attention. When I actually saw the book, the compact size was a bonus - it is easy to carry around and read when you have unexpected downtime. The title, however, is a bit misleading. Although the author does discuss aging, the title is actually drawn from his statement that living with Parkinson's disease is like going through a beginner's guide to old age. And the comparison makes a lot of sense, especially as Kinsley explains it, since the symptoms of one mimic the other.

I had never read any of Kinsley's writing before this, so I did not know what to expect of his style or his opinions and attitudes. I found that I enjoyed his view of life and his own place in it. He says things like, "Fortunately for me, one of the themes of this book is that few people get what they deserve, in this life or the next one." And for good or for ill, he is right. He also talks about the competitiveness of humans, pointing out bumper stickers like the one that reads, "He who dies with the most toys wins." Kinsley offers the idea that there are other forms of final competition in life. Besides worrying about who can accumulate the most toys before they go, we can also compete over who survives the longest, who has the best quality of life, and who has the most left of their marbles until the end. 

The author's frankness about his own diagnosis and how he has dealt with it, how it has affected him (medications surgical procedures, etc.), forms a basis to tie together the rest of his thoughts. In one chapter he delves into the difference between Baby Boomers and the generation before them, and those that come after. He discusses possible solutions for government deficits and also looks at the hope of all writers to secure a reputation that outlives them. Everything he says is well said and intelligent, often funny(although sometimes in a morbid way of whistling past a grave yard), but that reflects his life. 

If you enjoy autobiographical stories, or essays about topics relating to becoming one of the more mature ( see, I didn't say old), members of society, or have enjoyed Kinsley's writing during his long career as a journalist, then you should pick up a copy. 

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

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