Younger Next Year
Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy–Until You’re 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley & Henry S. Lodge, M.D., 3/5
Clearly, the target audience for this book is aging guys who will appreciate the old-fashioned generalizations and cringey humor that make Younger Next Year pretty unrelatable to anyone else. Fortunately though, you don’t have to be an old man to be encouraged by the premise that consistent exercise, smart eating (but not “dieting”), and healthy relationships can make old age a less terrifying prospect. This book also confirms something I’ve suspected for a long time–that we often associate increasing age with loneliness, misery and a sedentary lifestyle because those are the most available and memorable role models (thanks, negativity bias). All the healthy, adventurous, active, passionate old people are too busy out doing things to stop and convince us that a post-prime life can be amazing.
On a sad side note, I learned that the younger co-author, Dr. Lodge, died at the age of only 58 from prostate cancer. I’m tempted to conclude that one shouldn’t sacrifice happiness for health, since the latter is never guaranteed.
Why I read it: my dad gave me a copy because he enjoyed it.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, 5/5
I knew that I was going to love this intimidatingly large novel as soon as I read the caption for the opening illustration (of a sour old man reading a book): “He hardly ever spoke of magic, and when he did it was like a history lesson and no one could bear to listen to him.” Clarke somehow overcomes a contradiction in terms to tell a plausibly fantastic tale about the revival of “practical” magic in England. The story flows well and is never boring, though it does wear thin near the end, perhaps because the author has a talent for humorous and clever descriptions but her observational style is not conducive to much psychological depth or character development. However, I found it to be a charming read and quite possibly the best debut novel I’ve ever encountered.
[Why I read it: I saw a couple cool GIFs from the BBC miniseries version, but happily decided that I should give the book a chance first.]