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Old Age: A Beginner's Guide

3.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,158 ratings  ·  269 reviews
Vanity Fair columnist Michael Kinsley escorts his fellow Boomers through the door marked "Exit."

The notorious baby boomers—the largest age cohort in history—are approaching the end and starting to plan their final moves in the game of life. Now they are asking: What was that all about? Was it about acquiring things or changing the world? Was it about keeping all your marbl
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Hardcover, 160 pages
Published April 26th 2016 by Tim Duggan Books (first published April 1st 2016)
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3.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,158 ratings  ·  269 reviews


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Melki
No one wants to think about getting old and dying, right?

And since we don't even want to contemplate the idea, we sure as hell don't want to talk about the subject, even though that may not be a completely bad thing -- to hash out our fears and wishes for what lies in the not-too-distant future. So, we get on with our lives, and try not to think too much about that "scary thing" that awaits us all. But, sometimes, as the author tells us, we get a valuable warning shot from the Grim Reaper.

Kinsle
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Melanie
May 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
"Surprisingly cheerful" is not how I would describe this book, amazon.com notwithstanding. Nor is it a "beginner's guide to aging" unless the reader, like Michael Kinsley, has been given a diagnosis of early-onset Parkinson's disease after a career in political analysis and online innovation. Kinsley is not Everyman.

Most of the chapters in this slim book were originally published in The New Yorker. An editor should have eliminated repetition (sometimes verbatim), as well as the last chapter (a p
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Mrs. Danvers
Really more of a 2.5 star read. Much of it has been published previously and as a consequence of collecting the essays from a number of different sources, it is repetitious both in thoughts expressed and in the phrasing that expresses them. I came to this one expecting something more along the lines of The Thing About Life is That One Day You'll Be Dead and I recommend that book by far over this one.
Scott
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
I should have trusted my instinct here, that little voice whispering "good god Scott don't read this book you can't stand Michael Kinsley and his smug elitist ilk", but I still hit "buy" because as I get more middle-aged I'm more and more interested in what people say it actually feels like to get old and die. And, yes, the misleadingly-named "Old Age: A Beginner's Guide" was a mistake. This is a poorly edited, uncharming, shallow money grab mostly about how Kinsley has lived with Parkinson's fo ...more
Shawn
Mar 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Might also have been appropriately titled, "Old Age: An Old Man's Rant". And, it felt very much like that -- a rant by someone who is at the end of a lifetime of ranting and decides to give it one more go.
The author's personality comes through. He's witty, he's intelligent, he's self-important -- but for some reason you aren't totally put off by it -- and he's worried about being forgotten. I could offer him the consolation that no one can forget someone they have no idea about in the first pla
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Pam ☼Because Someone Must Be a Thorn☼ Tee
DNF.

I'm so fortunate that I didn't get an arc of this book from someplace that requires a review. I got it from Netgalley and I'm going to explain to the publisher that I'm thankful for their generosity but that I'm not going to finish nor review it at anyplace like Amazon.

So depressing.

Part of this might not have been the author's fault. One of my dearest friends in the world passed away very quickly. Her last full meal was on Thanksgiving. Diagnosis the two weeks later. Gone by the end of Sno
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Judy Collins
A special thank you to Crown and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 3.5 Stars

Michael Kinsley writes about his take on aging—OLD AGE: A Beginner's Guide, an exit strategy for Boomers, born between 1946-1964, entering life’s last chapter. Remembered for being ambitious and competitive? The largest age cohort in American history. Death, illness, and time. How will you use your time?

Kinsley (65) writes honestly about his own illness, early-onset Parkinson’s and the three ways t
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Lizzie
Apr 29, 2016 rated it did not like it
I was disappointed. I thought it would tell me something useful. It was very repetitive. I got the point a long time ago, quality of life vs how many years I will live. Being disabled a couple of years ago and my career ending at age 53 as a result, what I was looking for wasn't here.

The only chapter I found interesting was the last one. Being born at the end of the boomer generation in 1959, I agree that we created jogging and the sold all the accoutrements, making a profit from it. Rather tha
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Tina
Humorous take on the Boomer generation with a lot of truth behind the discussion of aging, illness, and, most importantly, the legacy the Boomers may/may not wish to leave the Gen X and Millennial children and grandchildren they will eventually leave behind. A big feat given that the previous generation (the Boomers' parents/grandparents), the "Great Generation", emerging victorious in their participation in World War II. If for no other reason, pick it up to solely read Chapter 7.
Robin
May 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016, audio, nonfiction
Depressingly honest.
Jackie
Jun 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Parts of this collection of essays were quite funny. Reading the book is like spending an afternoon with a clever guy who is interested in himself more than in you- amusing but something missing. However the chapter on Parkinson's and denial made the time spent worthwhile,
Nora
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
2.5. I wanted to like this book more than I liked it. I like thinking about the aging process as a way to prepare myself for the future, and I thought this book would be particularly interesting because my Dad is a boomer who also has Parkinson's. Some of the book was interesting, but as others have said, it was repetitive. Also, right at the beginning to the book the author told an icky sex joke about Parkinson's so now I can't even tell my Dad about this book because I don't want us both to kn ...more
miteypen
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
If this book had been longer, I might have stopped reading it. It suffered from repetition, fuzzy focus, and a lack of useful information. That isn’t to say that I didn’t like any of it. I thought the author’s musings about what successful aging might look like and how best to be remembered after you’re gone were interesting and thought-provoking. I also liked when he wrote about his Parkinson’s. I didn’t agree, however, that having Parkinson’s gives him early insight into aging. Most of his com ...more
Jill
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Granted, I'm not in the target audience for this book (baby boomers), but I was hoping for more interesting or insightful reflections on aging. Kinsley has Parkinson's, and much of the book focuses on this particular health problem, which I found to be an unwanted distraction. However, if readers begin this book knowing that it's focus is not what's advertised on the cover, you'd likely have a better reading experience.
Andrew
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Yes, there are a few repeats, but it's not as bad as some reviewers are making it sound. There's a lot of great material here all the way through the book, and it's worth going through a few brief passages that repeat what was said before to get to the good stuff. I found this book to be thoughtful and informative.
Msjodi777
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
This is a short one, but well worth the 2 month wait I went thru at my library's OD site. Quite interesting, and a bit scary. This is one I will come back to again. <><
Brent
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all readers, especially those interested in health and journalism
Recommended to Brent by: this fine author
Kinsley is always worth reading. I hope this book is not his last. I'm going to be checking online. His humor is generous and his stories are impressive and humbling.
Recommended, not just for anything about old age, but for our communal survival as a country.
Addie
Aug 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Funny in parts, but underwhelming. I also recognize I'm not his intended audience (baby boomers).
Sheila
Dec 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
Quick read about Parkinson’s and aging and what the Boomers can do to redeem themselves. Since I’m not a Boomer, some of it missed the mark for me. This guy is wicked smart for sure.
Mark
Oct 07, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a thought provoking and yet decidedly odd little book by journalist and uber-editor Michael Kinsley, who helped found the online magazine Slate.

Twenty years ago, Kinsley was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. He was not as young as Michael J. Fox when he got word, but nevertheless, he has lived with the disorder for much longer than most patients. As he enters his 60s, he put together this slim book with the idea that his diagnosis had given him the burden and the privilege of entering
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Anita
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really liked this slim volume. Written by a baby boomer for baby boomers about baby boomers, I'm not exactly the target audience (too young). Still, professionally speaking, I'm very interested in discussions of longevity and mortality. Probably 80% of my clients are boomers. And generally speaking, it is never too early to think about and plan for old age and its potential accompanying infirmities.

I wasn't familiar with the author before reading this book. I was very impressed with his style
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Judith
Jul 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
The author was born in 1951 and has had Parkinson's Disease since 1993. I share his birth year and his young-onset diagnosis of PD, so I am sure that colors my impression of this book. Having said that, this was a great book. You don't have to have any interest in PD to appreciate this book but it helps if you are a baby-boomer because that's the real subject of the book, which could be subtitled: baby-boomers face their mortality. It helps that the author is a long time published journalist wri ...more
Jmpalad
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
this book was so damn pompous. it's as if publishers had to be goaded to pull through with this book, guilted by the looming fact he had Parkinson's to be quite honest. there were too many unnecessary percentages, calculations unneeded to get whatever simply defining point across. (the few being: better to have your marbles then go old and senile, DBS is a game changer, BB generation can economically save us all [pshh yeah o k]). a couple tens of pages expanded about DBS yet it could have been c ...more
Sandy
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
This in my opinion is a 2.5. I was surprised to read that most of the book was discussing his early diagnosis of early on set Parkinson disease. My father also had Parkinson's but his was acquired in his early seventies. I am (I guess) a baby boomer and when Mr. Kinsley said "And then, at some point, death becomes a normal part of life-a faint dirge in the background that gradually gets louder." I found my self thinking "hum that is part of life, right." I read some where that the day we are bor ...more
Jim Robles
May 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
A poignant read: I lost a dear friend, and far better man that I ever dreamt of being, to Parkinson's.

Oh yeah! Also a searing indictment of the "Baby Boomer Consensus."

The thirtieth book I have finished this year.

p. 34. You can't really criticize people whose reason for opposing research that uses embryos is that they truly b

p. 40. The hospital printout of all the things you can't do afterwards describes DBS as "major brain surgery." Is there such a thing as minor brain surgery?

That resonates. M
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Seth Fiegerman
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-books
If there is such a thing as a breezy read about aging, chronic illness and accepting that you'll be forgotten after you die, this is it. Kinsey chronicles life with Parkinson's and his gradual acceptance that it has deteriorated his cognitive abilities and the way he is viewed by others. He no longer has the freedom he once enjoyed to be fully part of -- and competitive in -- the career-driven, passion-pursuing world of adulthood. This is the unwelcome realization he expects his ambitious peers ...more
Ron S
Mar 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
A surprisingly entertaining, readable, even cheerful book about losing one's physical and mental faculties and the inevitable demise that awaits us all. The final chapter might not go down well, particular with American readers, but I applaud Kinsley not being afraid to voice a controversial opinion and take a position that the majority likely won't applaud. Because of the questions and subjects it raises are universal, this is a great book for anyone, but more particularly if you're age 40 plus ...more
Martha
Jul 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, biography, humor, reviews
Comedy about aging and Parkinson's Disease. Essays in Kinsey's typical funny and charming voice leading the boomers into the last phase of their outsize existence. I get to feel superior b/c I'm a war baby. But my husband has Parkinson's, so I can attest to the accuracy, valor and laughs with which Kinsley faces the condition he says aged him early rendering him qualified to lead the boomers toward the exit. But there's much more besides Parkinson's, and you don't have to have or know about it i ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Apr 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: old-age
You can reframe your fifties as the new forties. You can pile on the hair color and Botox and all of the other magical transformative potions. Nevertheless, we Boomers have been shocked to discover we have become old. Boomers have traveled every other path---childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, parenting years---together. This book is a little book of essays about that trip into old age. And our guide? A fellow Boomer who has, in addition to regular old age troubles, suffered from Parkinson' ...more
Bradley
Dec 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: year-2016
Right before this year's birthday I was feeling down and went to the library looking for books to make me feel better. I turned 40 this year (2016) and I thought that a book named "Old Age: A Beginner's Guide" would give me a heads up on this whole aging process. This book turned out to be less of a beginner's guide and more Michael Kinsley's ruminations on his life with Parkinson's. It wasn't the book I was looking for but it was still a pretty good read.
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Michael Kinsley is a columnist for Time and a past editor of The New Republic, Harper's, and Slate. His writing has also appeared in The Economist, The New Yorker, and many other publications.
“However well you do in the competition for the greatest toys, longest life, and healthiest brain, the best medical research indicates that eventually you’re going to be dead. And you’re going to stay dead for many years longer than you were alive, and all that will be left of you is people’s memories of you, which is to say, your reputation.” 2 likes
“People understand this about physical disabilities. Someone with a broken leg will not, for that reason alone, be denied a job that requires typing. We are comfortable with the idea that physical health is not just a single number but a multiplicity of factors. That’s where we need to arrive about mental problems, too.” 0 likes
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