Recommendations for an Elderly Lady

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Recommendations for an Elderly Lady

1vwinsloe
dec 15, 2020, 8:57am

My mother is 91 and loves to read. I used to give her books that I thought she might like when I finished with them, but she seems to be having trouble following multiple plot lines and characters lately. The local library will send books to her at the retirement community where she lives, but I am at a loss as to what to recommend to her. The last book that I gave to her that she seemed to like was Where the Crawdads Sing.

Any ideas would be appreciated.

2scaifea
dec 15, 2020, 9:04am

My mom is starting to show signs of dementia but loves to read. We've always shared a love of children's literature, and honestly, some of the better middle grade books are perfect for her right now. Slightly simpler plots (sometimes), but they still have good, solid stories (and as a bonus, they tend to have larger print, too). A few shining examples of ones we've both loved:

Moon over Manifest
The Girl Who Drank the Moon
Wolf Hollow
The War That Saved My Life
When You Reach Me

3lilithcat
dec 15, 2020, 9:25am

>1 vwinsloe:

she seems to be having trouble following multiple plot lines and characters

How about some short story collections? A few I've enjoyed:

The Coast of Chicago, by Stuart Dybek (set, obviously, in Chicago)
Lost in the City, by Edward P. Jones (set in Washington, D.C.)
An Elderly Lady is up to no good, by Helene Tursten
The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye, by A.S. Byatt (fairy tales for adults)

4MarthaJeanne
dec 15, 2020, 9:25am

I recently gave my mother (94) Dishoom. Mom loved it because the pictures and text took her back to our time near Bombay in the 60's. Is there a place that your mother would like reminders of?

5carriehh
dec 15, 2020, 9:43am

What about Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce Series? The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie -is the first book and really quite a lovely read

6vwinsloe
dec 15, 2020, 9:49am

>2 scaifea:. My mother is also showing signs of memory loss and confusion, but, unfortunately, I think that she will be insulted if I recommend YA books. I think that I will try to sneak some in though, because you are right.

7vwinsloe
dec 15, 2020, 9:51am

>3 lilithcat:. She did read An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good and liked it so much that she passed it around to her friends. So I will check out the others that you mention.

8vwinsloe
dec 15, 2020, 9:51am

>5 carriehh: That looks like just the sort of thing!

9scaifea
dec 15, 2020, 9:53am

>6 vwinsloe: Ah, well, these aren't even YA, but middle grade (think middle school ages), but even so, if she doesn't *know* they're MG, she won't know the difference from the writing, at least with the titles I've suggested. They're very well-written and the stories are engaging and in no way too juvenile for adult readers. Lots of adults read MG novels because we enjoy them in their own right.

10clue
dec 15, 2020, 10:37am

>1 vwinsloe: Miss Read might work if she has't already read them.

11Copperskye
dec 15, 2020, 11:21am

>1 vwinsloe: The Giver of Stars and The Jane Austen Society are two that I would have recommended to my Mom.

12Marissa_Doyle
dec 15, 2020, 11:40am

>1 vwinsloe: Cordelia Underwood is lovely. And does she like non-fiction or memoirs? A Joyful Noise is sweet, gentle, and very, very funny.

13laytonwoman3rd
dec 15, 2020, 1:03pm

>10 clue: I was going to recommend Miss Read's books as well. Jan Karon might be an option...her work can be a bit on the sweet side, her main character being an Episcopal minister of a certain age, but her storytelling skills are good. When my mother was in her late 80s and experiencing memory issues that interfered with her reading, she really enjoyed nicely illustrated cookbooks with short simple stories associated with the recipes. Some suggestions from my collection:
A Southerly Course by Martha Hall Foose
A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman
Hallelujah! The Welcome Table by Maya Angelou
My Bombay Kitchen by Niloufer Ichaporia King
Gudrun's Kitchen by Irene O. Sandvold

14scaifea
dec 15, 2020, 1:31pm

>13 laytonwoman3rd: Oh, cookbooks are a great suggestion! I'll add this one to the list: The Best Cook in the World

15edparks
dec 15, 2020, 1:57pm

BEAUTIFUL RUINS by Jess Walter.
BEL CANTO by Ann Patchett.
POCKETFUL OF NAMES by Joe Coomer.

16alvaret
dec 15, 2020, 2:21pm

Maybe The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules? My grandmother seemed to enjoy it after she started to have trouble with more complex books. I found it quite entertaining but very lightweight.

17laytonwoman3rd
dec 15, 2020, 6:35pm

>14 scaifea: Oh, good suggestion. I love Rick Bragg.

18AnnieMod
dec 15, 2020, 6:49pm

Does she read mysteries?

There is a ton of cozy mysteries set in all kinds of hotels/libraries/restaurants/crafts/cooking and so on which do not have extra plot lines or too many characters or require too much thought but can be entertaining.

19vwinsloe
dec 16, 2020, 9:40am

>9 scaifea:. Oh, I know! I read YA books myself. But at the retirement home where my mother lives, they tend to do games and other activities that she finds childish. As a result, she is very insulted by anything that infantilizes her.

As long as these don't say "young adult" on them, they will be okay, I think.

20scaifea
dec 16, 2020, 9:43am

>19 vwinsloe: That makes sense; I suspect I'd loathe those games and activities, too.

21vwinsloe
Redigerat: dec 16, 2020, 9:48am

>10 clue: and >13 laytonwoman3rd: Where to start with Miss Read? I don't believe that she has read them. I haven't either, so where to start?

>10 clue:, my stepfather adored Jan Karon and read them all, I don't think that my mother cared for them.

>11 Copperskye:. She liked The Giver of Stars. I'll put the other one on her list.

>13 laytonwoman3rd: and >14 scaifea: cookbooks are unfortunately out, as she hates cooking and anything to do with cooking.

22vwinsloe
Redigerat: dec 16, 2020, 9:46am

>15 edparks:, she's read two of those and liked them. I'll put the third on her list.

>16 alvaret:, that sounds perfect.

>18 AnnieMod:. Likes mysteries as long as they are non-challenging. For example, she found The Magpie Murders to be too confusing.

23vwinsloe
dec 16, 2020, 9:51am

Oh, and the books that she most recently ADORED were the Tilly Trotter series.

24laytonwoman3rd
dec 16, 2020, 10:18am

>21 vwinsloe: There are two series of Miss Read books that I'm familiar with. The "Village" books (officially the Chronicles of Fairacre series) and theThrush Green books. Thrush Green, oddly enough, is the first in that series. The first Fairacre title is Village School.
I also had the thought that your mother might enjoy the James Herriot All Creatures series, if she hasn't read those. They are episodic, so easy to read in small doses. A bit graphic with farm life detail, if that would be a problem.

25vwinsloe
dec 16, 2020, 10:35am

>24 laytonwoman3rd:. Thank you re: the Miss Read books. She has Read the All Creatures series and enjoyed them. She loves anything involving animals.

26seeword
dec 16, 2020, 11:40am

Maybe she would like the Antoine Laurain books that feature linked short stories. Light, not too many characters, episodic, and fun. I'm thinking of "The Red Notebook" and "The President's Hat."

27lilithcat
dec 16, 2020, 12:11pm

>26 seeword:

I love the Antoine Laurain books!

28vwinsloe
dec 17, 2020, 8:03am

>26 seeword:. That sounds good, as long as she doesn't have to remember any particulars of one story to follow the next story. We'll see!

30upatree
dec 17, 2020, 5:28pm

Maybe The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon, or The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (since she liked Crawdads)

31vwinsloe
dec 18, 2020, 9:49am

>29 flying_monkeys: and >30 upatree: I think that she has read some of those, and even though she probably wouldn't remember that she did, she keeps a list! Lol. They are all about the type of books she likes though so this is really helpful. Thanks!

32Tess_W
dec 18, 2020, 6:19pm

My mom in 88 and always read some heavy fiction and non. Now, she can't focus. However, she now loves the Amish books--love stories, coming of age, etc.

33LindaRoberts
dec 18, 2020, 7:45pm

>1 vwinsloe: Perhaps the books by Angela Thirkell? They are a series that follow British county characters through the 20th century; I was going to suggest Miss Read - these are along the same line: interesting but "normal" people, nothing shocking, but not condescending. Also, the books by Alexander McCall Smith may be suitable.

34tardis
dec 18, 2020, 10:39pm

I just read a mystery that might fit the bill - Aunty Lee's Delights by Ovidia Yu. Set in Singapore, features an older lady, and I liked it very much. Aunty Lee is very sensible, and a force to be reckoned with :)

35scaifea
dec 19, 2020, 8:46am

>32 Tess_W: Oh, that's a good suggestion! My mom loves those, too, and they're also hugely popular among the older patrons at my library.

36vwinsloe
dec 19, 2020, 10:46am

>32 Tess_W: and >35 scaifea:. What are the Amish books? Can you link something? Thanks.

>33 LindaRoberts:. I will look into Angela Thirkell. She has read Alexander McCall Smith's African mysteries and enjoyed them.

>34 tardis:. Putting that one on the list! Thank you!

37scaifea
dec 19, 2020, 12:23pm

>36 vwinsloe: Here's a Goodreads list of Amish series (my mom loves the Beverly Lewis ones in particular): https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/amish-series

38vwinsloe
dec 20, 2020, 9:09am

>37 scaifea:. Who knew? Thank you. On the list!

39Pat_Bunk_Malecki
dec 20, 2020, 5:05pm

Hi. you could try Mariah Fredericks Jane Prescott series. Not too many characters. A mystery. She may enjoy the comedy and mystery. Good luck and God Bless.

40vwinsloe
dec 21, 2020, 9:40am

>39 Pat_Bunk_Malecki:. Sounds good. Thank you.

41Capybara_99
dec 21, 2020, 4:46pm

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson is a simple and charming novel about a grandmother and young granddaughter. Enjoyable and not a lot to keep in mind as you read.

42alvaret
dec 22, 2020, 5:37am

I agree on >41 Capybara_99: 's suggestion of The summer book, it is really good, one of my favourite books, and has a simple enough structure that your mother might enjoy it.

43vwinsloe
dec 22, 2020, 8:57am

>41 Capybara_99: & >42 alvaret: On the list! Thanks.

44spiralsheep
dec 22, 2020, 11:39am

Mary Wesley wrote some good books with older characters and themed around ageing, and her prose style tends to be spare, although some of her books are towards the grim. The ones that aren't and I enjoyed re-reading last year are:

Not That Sort of Girl
The Camomile Lawn (also famously adapted for television)
A Sensible Life

I haven't read the following popular novels but they all feature older women as main characters:

The Lido by Libby Page
The Switch by Beth O'Leary
The Vintage Springtime Club by Beatrice Meier

45spiralsheep
dec 22, 2020, 11:42am

And Barbara Pym, although her books featuring older women as the main characters tend towards the tragi-comic rather than her earlier comedy:

The Sweet Dove Died (I found this amusing)
Quartet in Autumn (I found this more downbeat)

46sandyg210
dec 22, 2020, 1:26pm

>1 vwinsloe: if she’ll read mysteries try The Miss Seeton series by Heron Carvic, Victoria Trumbull series by Cynthia Riggs, or the Aunt Dimity books by Nancy Aetherton.

47vwinsloe
dec 22, 2020, 2:58pm

>44 spiralsheep:, >45 spiralsheep:, >46 sandyg210:. Much appreciated! I think that they will all be worth a try!

48Lgood67334
dec 22, 2020, 8:45pm

Detta meddelande har blivit flaggat av flera användare och visas inte längre (visa)
>1 vwinsloe: I'll bet she'd love Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62. Take a look at the award-winning memoir here: https://www.amazon.com/Never-Too-Late-Wannabe-Wife/dp/1633936082/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1541908134&sr=8-1

49Lgood67334
dec 22, 2020, 8:47pm

Detta meddelande har blivit flaggat av flera användare och visas inte längre (visa)
>2 scaifea: Talent is an award-winning YA in its second edition. Great book for anyone who's ever sought her talent or a new talent. Take a look and see what you think. https://www.amazon.com/Talent-B-Lynn-Goodwin/dp/1646630165/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1603142736&sr=8-1

50Lgood67334
dec 22, 2020, 8:48pm

Detta meddelande har blivit flaggat av flera användare och visas inte längre (visa)
>6 vwinsloe: Talent is a cross-over book. Parents and teachers play an important role. Take a look at the reactions and see if you think it would work. https://www.amazon.com/Talent-B-Lynn-Goodwin/dp/1646630165/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1603142736&sr=8-1

51Lgood67334
dec 22, 2020, 8:48pm

>11 Copperskye: LOVE The Giver of Stars.

52Lgood67334
dec 22, 2020, 8:49pm

Detta meddelande har blivit flaggat av flera användare och visas inte längre (visa)
>32 Tess_W: Talent, https://www.amazon.com/Talent-B-Lynn-Goodwin/dp/1646630165/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1603142736&sr=8-1, is coming of age.

53AnnieMod
dec 22, 2020, 9:21pm

>48 Lgood67334: >49 Lgood67334: >50 Lgood67334: >52 Lgood67334:

Recommending your own books 4 times in the same thread is very close to spamming and against the idea of this group...

54markon
Redigerat: dec 22, 2020, 10:54pm

What about My life in dog years by Gary Paulsen? Each chapter talks about his relationship with a dog from childhood to adulthood. (Shelved in children's section at library, but I read this as an adult and liked it.)

55lilithcat
dec 22, 2020, 11:26pm

>53 AnnieMod:

I wouldn't call it "close"! I'd call it definite spam, and a TOS violation.

56LindaRoberts
dec 23, 2020, 7:34am

>1 vwinsloe: One more suggestion is the Meg Langslow series of books by Donna Andrews. They are murder mysteries but not grisly nor upsetting.

57vwinsloe
dec 23, 2020, 2:43pm

>54 markon: Excellent suggestion. Anything with animals is a plus.

>56 LindaRoberts:. Look good. Thanks!

58ReaderSally
dec 24, 2020, 10:03am

My mother, who has now passed but almost made 90 - with dementia - always looked for "cat" books as she passed 80. She read Lilian Jackson Braun cat book mysteries and Agatha Christie up until the last couple years of her life. She had already read, probably many times, the Agatha Christie books but she could always follow the plots because of that. Cheers for Miss Marple!

59vwinsloe
dec 24, 2020, 11:21am

>58 ReaderSally:. I should inquire as to whether she has read the Lillian Jackson Braun books. Thanks!

60Marissa_Doyle
dec 24, 2020, 1:53pm

Carole Nelson Douglas's Midnight Louie books are another possibility for cat mysteries.

61eo206
dec 26, 2020, 12:33pm

Sherman Alexie's You Don't have to Say You Love Me is an interesting autobiography with short chapters.

62Bibliofemmes
dec 26, 2020, 12:48pm

>1 vwinsloe: both my mother and mother-in-law were heavy readers and their tastes changed as they aged, too. Both preferred protagonists over 50, didn't care about romance stories, liked books which looked back or took place within an earlier lifetime and minimized expletive's in lieu of vocabulary. Several of the suggestions in earlier posts are YA (young adult) titles which might be good because they do have less complex storylines, appropriate language and slightly larger print with fewer pages but are usually "coming of age".
A few titles my mothers enjoyed:
Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross
Irish Country series by Patrick Taylor
Garrison Keillor books
The uncommon reader by Alan Bennett
The Queen takes the train by W. Kuhn
Major Pettigrew's last stand by Helen Simonson
Unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Frye by Rachel Joyce
Fannie Flagg books
Clyde Edgerton titles
There has been a surge in titles for older readers in the last several years so Google titles with "main characters over 50" or whatever age to find a wider listing.

63IreneKessler
dec 27, 2020, 8:41am

>6 vwinsloe: A book my friend recommended is Mountain of Full Moons. The story is straightforward to follow, yet tells an interesting tale of a young girl cast out of her tribe and her journey to an amazing life.

64vwinsloe
dec 27, 2020, 10:02am

>60 Marissa_Doyle: I will check those out.

>61 eo206: Thanks.

>62 Bibliofemmes: yes! Just the sort of thing.

>63 IreneKessler: Sounds good!

65janoorani24
dec 27, 2020, 5:24pm

Your mother might like the Mrs. Pollifax mysteries by Dorothy Gilman. Mrs. Pollifax is an elderly woman who is sent on missions by the CIA. She's delightful.

66vwinsloe
Redigerat: dec 30, 2020, 9:19am

>65 janoorani24:. That sounds really interesting! Thank you.

67LadyoftheLodge
Redigerat: dec 29, 2020, 4:21pm

I read a ton of Amish novels. I like those by Amy Clipston and Wanda Brunstetter. These are experienced and accomplished authors of Amish fiction/romance.

Another fun mystery series is by Rita Lakin, all of which feature senior citizens and P.I. Gladdy Gold and her friends. They are easy to read and are very funny, and can be read as standalones, not necessarily in any order.

Getting Old is a Disaster
Getting Old is the Best Revenge
Getting Old is to Die For
Getting Old is Criminal
Getting Old is Murder

68vwinsloe
dec 30, 2020, 9:19am

>67 LadyoftheLodge:. Excellent! Thanks.

69ReluctantTechie
jan 1, 8:02pm

>1 vwinsloe: An older title that I really liked which features an older woman as the main character is Walking Across Egypt by Edgerton. It has a bit of humor to it.

70vwinsloe
jan 2, 9:52am

>69 ReluctantTechie:. That looks entertaining! Thanks.

71agjuba
jan 2, 12:57pm

What about Rosamunde Pilcher's short stories? I love to go back and revisit them when I'm looking for something pleasant and distracting and calming to read.

72vwinsloe
jan 3, 10:14am

>71 agjuba:. Good suggestion. I know that she loved The Shell Seekers, but I don't think she has read anything else by Rosamunde Pilcher.

73LadyoftheLodge
jan 9, 2:30pm

>72 vwinsloe: There are some collections of short stories by Pilcher that I really liked. Check those out. Did someone mention the Aunt Dimity series of mysteries? Those are a lot of fun and easy reads too.

74vwinsloe
jan 10, 10:16am

>73 LadyoftheLodge:. I don't think so. I will look them up. Thanks.

75vwinsloe
jan 14, 9:50am

Here's my first feedback. >39 Pat_Bunk_Malecki:. My mother was able to get A Death of No Importance from the library, and, so far, she thinks it's great!

76Lgood67334
jan 22, 10:36pm

>53 AnnieMod: I apologize. I promise you I am not a spammer, but if you disagree wish to remove me from the group, feel free. Sorry for any harm or disruption I caused.

77Lgood67334
jan 22, 10:38pm

>55 lilithcat: One again, I apologize. If you feel you should turn this into a TOS violation, you may do that, but I promise I never meant to be a spammer of upset anyone.