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30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans

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3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  901 Ratings  ·  139 Reviews
"Heartfelt and ever-endearing - equal parts information and inspiration. This is a book to keep by your bedside and return to often." --Amy Dickinson, nationally syndicated advice columnist "Ask Amy"
After a chance encounter with a remarkable ninety-year-old woman, renowned gerontologist Karl Pillemer decided to find out what older people know about life that the rest of u
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Published November 1st 2011 by Plume Books
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(showing 1-30 of 2,375)
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Robin
Jul 15, 2012 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I was hoping this book would tell us the secrets of the good life. It does, but it's not fun to read. It's a bit boring. The lessons given are excellent, though. Following are the notes I took from the first hundred pages of the book, before I quit.

On marriage:
1. Marry someone a lot like you; who has the same core values about:
a) Money
b) Education
c) Has same background
d) Likes/doesn’t like reading the same amount
e) Political views
f) Living/not living ostentatiously
g) Owing something to th
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Ellie
Nov 10, 2011 Ellie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book with insightful tips on life.

I am generally not one for these types of books because they tend to be filled with BS. I was surprised to find this to be a comforting read, like a cup of tea on a cold day. I really enjoyed the POV of the author and the message.

Do I recommend that you read this book? Yes, actually. Pick it up and see some of the things it has to say. This book celebrates living a life that leads to building long lasting relationships and being happy. More than that, I
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Karen O'leary
Apr 12, 2012 Karen O'leary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! I think this book came along at a great time for me -- I was feeling like I was stuck in a little bit of a rut and I walked away from this with lot of great ideas for living life well --a super easy read and filled with anecdotes, each chapter focuses on different areas that make up our exsistence --marriage, kids, work, travel etc. - I especially liked the wisdom of the experts (the interviewed elders) on the topic of worrying --that there is absolutely no point in worry --plan things but ...more
Yong-Gu Bae
Jul 12, 2012 Yong-Gu Bae rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read. If 10 stars were available, I would give them. There are a lot of stories and valuable lessons to learn. I am glad that I read this book and learned from the experts. I would like to take action accordingly.
Amy
Feb 11, 2012 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first saw 30 Lessons for Living by Karl Pillemer--as intriguing as the title was--it also seemed a bit cliche and pat. What did this book have to offer that was unique? As the author himself says in the first chapter, there are more than 30,000 self-help books in print today and people rush out to buy them hoping for a quick fix. Why read, or even better, buy another one?

30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans is exactly that. Advice that has come from hundr
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Mike
Apr 10, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author is a gerontologist who queried, then interviewed hundreds of Americans aged 65+ to get advice for what is most important for a life well-lived. It is segmented by category: Marriage, Career, Parenting, Aging, Avoiding Regret, and Happiness. Each category has themes and is given life by stories from the inverviewees, who have "seen it all." The author reminds us that nobody reaches that age without hurdles to overcome, sadness, tragedy - this generation was born during the depression and r ...more
steph
Fantastic. Okay so there were some sections I was into more than the others (the relationship one and the happiness one for example), but all in all this was a insightful and wonderful read. It made me think, ponder and realize that I really just want the best life I can make for myself thank to the words of wisdom of America's oldest citizens. Great book. Just ordered a copy off Amazon for my personal library,
Shuan
Jun 08, 2014 Shuan rated it it was amazing
As a person in my mid-30s and approaching 40 fast, there is so much about my youth that I wish I had the wisdom to do things differently. If only I knew... And that is just looking back, looking forward there is so much unknown and uncertainties.

We, as a human race, have so much life experiences, but we are not very good at documenting and sharing our life lessons and collective wisdom. This is a rare book that looks into this. It aggregates life advises from a large number of old people and pre
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Janice
Those among us of the "Greatest Generation" who survived WWII, the Depression, and some the Holocaust, are quickly leaving us. This author, a gerontologist, wanted to gather as much wisdom from those who survived and flourished, before all are gone. This might sound like a somewhat depressing collection, but for me it was anything but. After interviewing hundreds of people, mostly in their late 80's, up to in their 100's, Mr. Pillemer summarizes their stories, and advice, into 5 or 6 major categ ...more
Laura
Jul 11, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cornell gerontologist Karl Pillemer conducted interviews with really elderly people (older than me!) asking them what advice they'd give younger people about marriage, children, careers, aging,
living without regrets, how to stop worrying, etc. There's a nice balance between his commentary
and the quotations he uses from the elderly themselves, and much of the advice--particularly about the qualities needed to make a marriage last a long time and about how to be happy--ring true. In this quick re
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Simon Smith
Jan 20, 2016 Simon Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was looking for books from which I could learn from the wisdom of older, more experienced people. It struck me that many issues I struggle with, others have already dealt with, so why not get ahead by learning from them?

It seems obvious, which suggests to me that we (or maybe just I, but I think it's a societal issue) clearly undervalue older adults in our society. Otherwise, why wouldn't we spend more time picking their brains? Why wasn't I already asking older adults for their thoughts on a
...more
Joy
Oct 26, 2015 Joy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought the lessons were really good and stuck with me. As a result of this book, I want to travel more with the kids. I also want the kids to read this someday...

***** marriage

- Marry homogeneously (money, religion, politics, values)
- Marry someone who you would choose as a friend
- Don't keep score, ask, what can I do for them everyday
- Be able to commucate well. Able to resolve conflicts. Talk about anything.
- See it as a lifetime commitment
- Don't go to bed angry

********* work
- choose a car
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Jen
Jun 04, 2012 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i was debating between 4 and 5 stars b/c the quotes from the "wisest" really made it a 5-star, not the interpretation of the remarks by the author. it's one of those books where if you feel you need some guidance or mentorship back to reality and what REALLY matters while we are blessed to be living on this earth, then this is a great resource. it made me miss my grandparents so much, i wished i had spent more time just asking them these types of questions. i wonder what their responses would ha ...more
Spencer Torrico

3 1/2 stars for me

As many people have done, and as you-the person reading reviews to see if this book is worth getting-are doing, I too wondered if this book was going to be worth the read. I took a shot and went for it and this book made me glad I did as well as made me wish I didn't.

By far the best parts are the quotes from the elders giving their two cents on topics such as marriage, raising kids, being happy, living with no regrets, etc. it's great to hear the advice the people who have liv
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Lynn
May 31, 2015 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I agree with a previous reviewer that this book can be boring to read at certain sections. I often found myself skimming through paragraphs that were too wordy and repetitive. However, there are many great insights on marriage (e.g., you're more likely to have a successful marriage if you start with a great friendship), parenting (e.g., spend as much time with your children as you can before it's too late), careers (e.g., take a pay cut if it means doing something you love), and general happines ...more
Frank
May 01, 2016 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The advice is sound, and I think the world needs a book with advice from experienced people. In the book, these people are called "experts". They are senior citizens. There are some good lines in here. If you Google the book, you can find pdf summaries, like I did.

Why not 5 stars instead of 4? He does give a lot of quotes from the experts, but many times this felt redundant. Maybe I'm getting impatient with fatherhood? With non-fiction, I find that I desire books to quickly get to the point. Wh
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Boiling
Feb 05, 2016 Boiling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Initially I found it a little boring but I found it inserting as I read more especially from the chapter regarding kids (and I do not have any now). Summary of the advice at the end of each chapter is great. A lot of the advice is something you are bound to have heard from one self help article or another.

On marriage
1. Marry someone a lot like you in terms of worldview and core values
2. Friendship is important
3. Don't keep score
4. Talk to each other
5. Commit to the marriage
6. Don't go to bed
...more
William Lee
Aug 29, 2015 William Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After my father facetiously suggested reading this would be a sufficient birthday present for him, I took a stab at this and came away gratified by his suggestion. For my age, certain parts were definitely more relatable (career, happiness) than others (parenting), and Pillemer's fillers were a tad redundant in some parts. But this book precisely captured the subtle youth and vigor that emanated from all the seniors I have conversed with in the past whenever I asked them to share with me their m ...more
Jack
Jan 12, 2014 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of sage advice from folks who have lived their lives. I like books like this that give pause for reflection and introspection.
Kathryn
Pleasant, but unsurprising. The stories and direct quotes from the elderly interviewees were fun and interesting, but there's a reason we call the collective wisdom of our culture "common sense." I enjoyed the book, but I didn't really need a book to remind me that I should choose a marriage partner with similar values or that I will never look back on my life and regret not spanking my kids (more). The chapter on death was the most interesting to me, because obviously it's not a subject you usu ...more
Jen Burstedt
Dec 05, 2015 Jen Burstedt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Karl Pillemer, a PhD out of Cornell, took five years to put together this book using the wisdom of 1200 seniors in America. He breaks it up into 6 chapters of general themes including parenting, marriage, career, happiness, aging and living without regrets. I enjoyed reading the combined wisdom of the seniors, and I'd recommend it to anyone who contemplates their life and is figuring out the best way to plan for a happy future, and the ability, at the end of their lives, to look back and be sati ...more
Alton Motobu
Dec 31, 2015 Alton Motobu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author interviewed thousands of senior citizens for their advice about how to live a productive and successful life, and he came up with 30 lessons covering marriage, parenting, careers, aging and living life to the fullest. One paradox: you should not be afraid to explore, try new things, and get out of your comfort zone, but he also includes things NOT to do, which may actually prevent people from going through hardships, pain and difficulties which may make them a better people. Don't know if ...more
Ruth
Apr 25, 2016 Ruth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Nothing new here. The advice from the wisest Americans added nothing new to what thousands (or more) of people already know about good living. The idea that the advice will help you make better choices and live a happier life is not limited to those who have lived long and happy lives. Unhappy people and couples know about the advice but perhaps do not follow that advice.

I'm not a researcher nor am I in to statistics but in my opinion the sample used in this case was way to small to be accurate.
...more
Judy
Jul 20, 2012 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health, mental-health
Helpful book. My favorite passages:

page 67: The bank was hiring, so I got a job there for supposedly two years and I never got back to college, and that is a regret in many ways. I was in the credit department, and I supervised the collection of loans. I came to see it as being like caregiving. Because I found that the people who were not paying, 90 percent of the time it was because of catastrophic things. For most of the people, I took it as caregiving, because you couldn't demand they get six
...more
Laurent
Mar 18, 2013 Laurent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-books
The exact book I was looking for

A couple of years ago I came to a juncture in my life where I wanted to interview some of my parents' older friends to find out what life's 'big lessons' are, as seen from an older and wiser persons' point of view. I never got around to doing this but was overjoyed when I came across 30 Lessons for Living, since Mr Pillemer has essentially done all the hard work for me.

I think this is a book that everyone who feels a bit lost or unsure should read. I'm a male in m
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Cary Griffith
If you examine my other book rating you'll find I am probably quilty of grade inflation. A writer myself, I know hwo difficult a book project can be, especially one of the type undertaken by Mr. Pillemer, a gerontologist who, with a team of others, interviewed more than 1,000 elder Americans. The book is well researched and competently written, though I'm a little dubious about how the author chose the 1,000 Amercians from whom to glean his wisdom. I particuarly appreciated the way Mr. Killemer ...more
Brendan
Apr 23, 2012 Brendan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was better than I expected it to be. The lessons are not earth-shattering, but they are mostly concrete and easy to implement in your life if you want to do so. The idea of gathering lessons from old people (whom the author annoyingly refers to as "experts," i.e. experts on living) is an interesting way to address the oft-covered subject of how to live one's life. While most self-help concepts are myopic in scope - lose weight NOW, get out of debt NOW, find a spouse NOW, etc., this boo ...more
Lori
Jul 15, 2012 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I love that it acknowledges the importance of learning from a resource in American society that is, in my opinion, undervalued & under-appreciated: senior citizens. The author interviewed over 1000 older Americans on topics of interest to most people, such as marriage, parenting, careers, etc. I love that the author analyzed and categorized a large volume of qualitative research data and summarized it in a way that is meaningful, easy-to-read, and helpful. In addition, the ...more
Julie
What is the key to living a fulfilling life? What choices can you make now to ensure you have no regrets later in life? Karl Pillemer, Ph.D., has interviewed more than 1,000 Americans over the age of 65 (who he calls the "experts") to get the answers to these questions. He presents his findings in 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.

He doesn't tell the life stories of the participants, but rather the lessons they offered when looking back on their lives. The le
...more
Sherry
Jan 23, 2013 Sherry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book and the advice it offered from older people. I don't really have relationships with elderly folks, aside from my grandparents, who I do not get to see very often anymore. So, their perspective was interesting. I've heard most of the advice before, but there were a few new ones to think about.

I was particularly struck by the advice, "Act now like you will need your body for 100 years." Obviously, it is important to take care of your health, but I never thought about it this wa
...more
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Karl Pillemer, Ph.D., is one of America's foremost gerontologists and family sociologists. He is a professor of human development at Cornell University. He founded the Marriage Advice Project, which surveyed hundreds of older Americans on their advice on love and marriage. He is the author of a number of books, including "30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans," and ...more
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