Are you ready to take the vacation of your lifetime, perhaps a trip around the world, learn about different cultures and experiences, or even a journey through time? This is why nothing beats a good book.
Books can take us places we have never been, help us re-live another time, and take us on great adventures – all without ever leaving home. Stimulating conversations across generations, bringing people of all walks of life together, books and the discussion surrounding them are powerful tools for improving the quality of life.
Maybe that’s why book clubs are popping up at senior living homes all over the country.
Reading reduces stress, increases mental stimulation, and even improves memory. Whatever the reason, there’s no doubt that reading is a popular pastime among people of all ages – and especially seniors. This is why suggesting great books for seniors can change the culture of your residential assisted living home. From time treasured classics to more recent thrillers, here are 10 books that seniors shouldn’t miss.
10 MUST-READ BOOKS LOVED BY SENIORS AT GOODREADS.COM
- The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Hannah’s novel is a World War II page-turner featuring two sisters living in France when the Nazi’s invade. The sisters respond in very different ways to the occupation with one ultimately joining the Resistance and putting her life on the line for freedom. A popular book for all generations, The Nightingale is a must-read for anyone who loves historical fiction and cheers for the underdog.
- A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
In this novel, a lonely and sad old man hides behind a grumpy exterior, leading his neighbors to call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but it all changes when chatty young neighbors with young children move next door to him. At times funny and at other times breathtakingly heartbreaking, A Man Called Ove explores the power of intergenerational friendship and makes us want to love our neighbors a little bit better.
- The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
This non-fiction read will appeal to those who enjoyed Unbroken and Seabiscuit by Laura Hilenbrand. The dramatic story of the American rowing team that stunned the world at Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics, the author draws from the boys’ own diaries and journals to share their remarkable story about beating the odds and finding hope in desperate times.
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Henrietta Lacks, known by scientists as HeLa, was a poor Southern tobacco farmer whose cells were taken without her knowledge and ultimately became one of the most important tools in modern medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture are still alive today, even though Henrietta Lacks passed away more than 60 years ago. Skloot takes the reader on an extraordinary journey, breaking down hard to understand scientific principles, and leading the reader to question the origins and ethics of modern medicine.
- The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Set in the English countryside in 1950, this book is an old-fashioned mystery novel and is the first book in a 10-book series. The main character is an 11-year-old amateur sleuth and chemist who uses her skills to clear her father of a murder charge. Although the main character is a child, the style and tone of writing and the powerful character development makes this a great read for anyone who loves vintage traditional crime novels.
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Exploring an era that will be familiar to most seniors, The Help is a story of African-American women in the South, the white women that they worked for, and the children they helped raise. Hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time, The Help showcases cultural and socioeconomic differences in 1962 America but is truly a timeless story about the rules we follow and the ones we refuse to follow.
- The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
Alternating between two men, The Devil in the White City tells the tale of the Chicago World’s Fair, contrasting the fair’s brilliant architect with a young doctor and murderer. While the architect builds the fair’s attractions, the murderer constructs a torture chamber just outside the fairgrounds. Drawing the reader into another time and place with real-life characters, The Devil in the White City and Larson’s superb story-telling skills brings the Gilded Age to life for the reader.
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Author Paul Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon who died from lung cancer while working on this book. Diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, the neurosurgeon goes from a doctor treating the dying to the one being treated and struggling to live. Chronicling his transformation from a medical student to exploring questions of life and death, this exquisite memoir is an unforgettable and life-affirming reflection on what it means to live truly.
- I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
On October 9, 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban for forcing her right to an education. Her miraculous recovery has taken her from her remote village in Pakistan to the United Nations, and at the age of 16, she has become the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The true story written by Malala herself will inspire every reader to stand up for injustice and speak out against violence.
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Set in a futuristic dystopia, The Handmaid’s Tale is set in an age of declining births where a totalitarian state has overthrown the United States government. Exploring a range of themes including a woman’s role in society, women’s rights, the role of childbearing in society, the role of religion in society, and government’s role in society, there is sure to be a lively discussion following this read.
9 MUST-READ NOVELS FOR SENIORS AT AMAZON.COM
There are many page-turning fiction-reads featuring mature characters for seniors. If you’re looking for book recommendations to create an inexpensive library in your assisted living home, the following list is a great start. These books are filled with laughter, they encourage empathy, and take readers on unforgettable adventures.
- Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
Eighty-five years old and still game to walk 10 miles to attend a party: that’s protagonist Lillian Boxfish! As she strolls the streets of New York City, she meets a wide cast of characters, reflects on her youth and how the city has changed, and illuminates the interesting parts of American history she’s been part of. This novel for seniors is a witty and touching ode to both New York and to a woman’s life well lived.
- Ivy Malone Mysteries
Get ready to meet another feisty senior lady! In this series, the determined and curious widowed sleuth Ivy Malone will be stopped by nothing, be it death threats, vandals, or the Mafia. Be prepared: the books are part of a continuing series and don’t always have stand-alone resolutions, so this is a five-part commitment.
- Call It a Gift
This romance novel will remind you that love and adventure spans all generations. Rather than the starry-eyed love of youth, this book handles romance in an inspiring yet realistic way that accounts for its challenges and compromises. The characters in this book navigate relationships with middle-aged children, consider how they want to make the most of life while aging, and set off on a road trip to Yellowstone.
- Prime of Life
Sometimes the people we meet surprise us with their unexpected pasts. That’s certainly the case with quirky main character Ben, a janitor in a retirement home with a big secret: he used to be a cardiothoracic surgeon. He enjoys his new, simpler life while building relationships with the various residents he meets and dealing with his personal past.
Sad but heartwarming, this book details the friendship between a young boy and 104-year-old woman as they share their lives and learn about one another. The book is acclaimed due to its engaging, wise, and authentic characters and style of writing.
- Mornings with Rosemary
This novel for seniors is about a burgeoning friendship that transcends generations. The pool that Rosemary has swum in all her life is threatened with closing, and she teams up with a young journalist to take a stand. Along the way, they open up about their experiences and create a genuine, feel-good connection with one another.
- The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
This New York Times bestseller is undoubtedly a must-read novel for seniors – and everyone. Harold Fry sets off on a journey of 600 miles to deliver a message to a woman he hasn’t seen for twenty years. Along the way, his experiences lead him to insights that help him rediscover himself.
- Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
This senior love story tackles the challenges and joys of different cultures and traditions uniting, when the retired, elite Major Pettigrew falls in love with a widowed Pakistani shopkeeper. In this senior novel, you’ll be transported to a small English town with a vibrant setting and defined social hierarchy the characters must navigate as they pursue their romance.
- League of Pensioners
This series is perfect for the days when you want to laugh over an easy read. A crew of friends from a retirement home decides their days of exploits are far from over and set off to reclaim their independence—through crime! It’s a comedy of errors that sees protagonist Martha and her friends robbing banks, stealing art, swindling casinos, outsmarting cops, and enjoying themselves the whole time.
ASSISTED LIVING NATIONAL ASSOCIATION HELPING TO TRANSFORM SENIOR HOUSING
Speaking of reading, when aiming to provide quality care for seniors, the Residential Assisted living National Association is the network that provides the best support nationwide. With blogs, legal support, discount services and the largest network of assisted living owners and operators in America, RALNA offers free services nationwide.
Visit www.RALNA.org to learn more about accelerating the success of your assisted living business. It’s easy to join for free and get all the information you need at no cost.