March 8, 2011

Lastingness: The Art of Old Age by Nicholas Delbanco

Lastingness: The Art of Old Age by Nicholas Delbanco is a book that discusses the obsession that our culture places on the “young” and also shows how “older” is sometimes better.

Book Description
“America grows older yet stays focused on its young. Whatever hill we try to climb, we're "over" it by fifty and should that hill involve entertainment or athletics we're finished long before. But if younger is better, it doesn't appear that youngest is best: we want our teachers, doctors, generals, and presidents to have reached a certain age. In context after context and contest after contest, we're more than a little conflicted about elders of the tribe; when is it right to honor them, and when to say "step aside"?

In LASTINGNESS, Nicholas Delbanco, one of America's most celebrated men of letters, profiles great geniuses in the fields of visual art, literature, and music-Monet, Verdi, O'Keeffe, Yeats, among others - searching for the answers to why some artists' work diminishes with age, while others' reaches its peak. Both an intellectual inquiry into the essence of aging and creativity and a personal journey of discovery, this is a brilliant exploration of what determines what one needs to do to keep the habits of creation and achievement alive.” – Lastingness: The Art of Old Age

My Thoughts
Lastingness: The Art of Old Age is a well-researched book about aging and “lastingness.” Looking at such examples of Monet, Verdi, O’Keeffe, Yeats, and many more, about how they actually improved with age is a feel-good about aging kind of read that you won’t come across often. It is an uplifting read and gives hope that your creativity and genius doesn’t always decline with age, and in fact can be better!

Even though I did enjoy it, the book was choppy in places, and there were anecdotes that could have been left out. Some people would probably really enjoy them, and some would probably prefer they were never included.

This is a great book for those who are above that “certain age” where you feel like everything is going downhill and need some positive and uplifting encouragement for your years to come. It would also make a good gift for those at that age, if they wouldn’t take it the wrong way. Overall, I recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Lastingness, Grand Central Publishing, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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