Automotive Holiday Deals Up to 50% Off Select Books Shop Men's Athletic Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Prime Music Sweepstakes egg_2015 All-New Amazon Fire TV Grooming Deals Gifts Under $50 Amazon Gift Card Offer cm15 cm15 cm15 $30 Off Amazon Echo $30 Off Fire HD 6 Kindle Cyber Monday Deals Cyber Monday Sweepstakes in Prime Music Outdoors Gift Guide on HTL
30 Lessons for Living and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans Hardcover – November 10, 2011

148 customer reviews

See all 8 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$8.88 $2.98

Between the World and Me
2015 National Book Awards - Nonfiction Winner
Get your copy of this year's National Book Award winner for nonfiction, "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Hardcover | Kindle book | See more winners

Special Offers and Product Promotions

  • Take an Extra 30% Off Any Book: Use promo code HOLIDAY30 at checkout to get an extra 30% off any book for a limited time. Excludes Kindle eBooks and Audible Audiobooks. Restrictions apply. Learn more | Shop now

Editorial Reviews


As he dispenses concrete, practical advice on how to make the most of our lives, Cornell gerontologist Pillemer turns for answers to our elders. Giving familiar advice a new spin by mining the rich resource of older Americans, Pillemer offers a refreshing, smart wakeup call about getting your priorities straight and living right.(Publishers Weekly)

"Thank you, Dr. Pillemer, for gathering all this wisdom in one book before it is lost. I can't imagine anyone whose life will not be enriched by this book." 

--Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good  People

"The 'Wisest Americans' have a lot to teach the rest of us. Some of this advice is refreshing common sense. Much of it is truly surprising. It is always 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 sundicated advice columnist "Ask Amy"

"This is a fabulous book! Karl Pillemer has done an incredible job of bringing together the collective wisdom of hundreds of Americans into an entertaining, thought provoking, and practical book. Give it a read. You will find yourself getting out of bed in the morning with new enthusiasm."

--Matthew Kelly, author of The Rhythm of Life and Off Balance

"30 lessons for Living is an absolute gem! Thank you Karl Pillemer for taking the time to collect such a valuable trove of wisdom, and for sharing it with us in such a readable book. It's one that I'll recommend often. All of it is wonderful, but I particularly appreciated the lessons on honesty and saying yes to opportunities. Read this book - you'll get more out of life and have fewer regrets."
--Hal Urban, author of Life's Greatest Lessons

"If you want to hear the wisdom of the aged, this easy-to-read book, based on years of penetrating interviews by a prominent sociologist, tells you what they have learned about love, work, marriage, and parenting."

--Howard S. Friedman, Ph.D. & Leslie R. Martin, Ph.D., authors of The Longevity Project

"For five years, Karl Pillemer sat down with more than 1,000 older Americans-most of them between the ages of 70 and 100-to talk about lessons for living well. In the resulting book, 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice From the Wisest Americans,... Pillemer, a gerontologist at Cornell, has culled 30 life lessons from his "experts," ranging from the practical to the profound. How to raise children? How to think about dying? Think of this book as 1,000 borrowed grandparents weighing in on life's various challenges. A salty pragmatism runs throughout."

--The Daily Beast

"The author skillfully weaves a prevailing theme (e.g., parenting, aging fearlessly) with self-disclosing statements from interviewees to create a compelling, inspirational book."

-Library Journal (starred; one of the "Top Self-Help Books of  2011")

About the Author

Karl Pillemer, PhD, is the founder and director of the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging, a center that works to increase public awareness of aging research. Dr. Pillemer has authored more than one hundred scientific publications, and has spoken widely throughout the world on issues of successful aging, family relationships, and elder care.

Hero Quick Promo
Holiday Deals in Kindle Books
Save up to 85% on more than 1,000 Kindle Books. These deals are valid until November 30, 2015. Learn more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hudson Street Press (November 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594630844
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594630842
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Karl Pillemer is a professor of human development at Cornell University and Professor of Gerontology in Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College. An internationally renowned gerontologist, his research examines how people develop and change throughout their lives. He has authored five books and over 100 scientific publications, and speaks throughout the world on aging-related issues.

After a chance encounter with a remarkable 90-year old woman, Dr. Pillemer decided to find out what older people know about life that the rest of us don't. His quest led him to ask more than a thousand older Americans their advice for living. He asked about all the big issues - love, marriage, children, work, happiness, avoiding regrets. This 6-year project led to the book: 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans, published in November 2011. More information on the project can be found at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

131 of 132 people found the following review helpful By JD312 on December 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Steeped in the wisdom of America's elders, 30 Lessons for Living has an undeniable power to influence the way we think and the choices we make. Karl Pillemer, the author and a professor of gerontology at Cornell, spent five years interviewing a diverse cross-section of over 1,000 senior members of our society to elicit their life advice. He reverently calls this group "the experts," perhaps for many reasons, but essentially because they have done something the rest of us haven't--they have lived into their eighties, nineties, and beyond, and are able to reflect on their nearly complete lifetimes with unique hindsight. [It's also no small thing that the experts have lived through everything their readers have... plus World War II and the Great Depression.]

As a liberal artist in my mid-thirties, I have to admit that while I was curious to see what the experts had to say, I was initially skeptical of how relevant I might find their advice to my own life. I suspected it might be outdated, preachy, too conservative for my taste, or too generic. On the contrary, I found the experts' words - as well as Pillemer's insightful synthesis - profound and often very moving. The book is a compelling, potent collection of guidance for how to live a meaningful life that's attuned to what really matters. The tone is never self-righteous. In fact, some of the most poignant advice stems from things the experts felt they got wrong, regrets they had, realizations in their final years about what was actually important. It's incredibly life-affirming to read about their successes as well as the lessons they learned through mistakes.

Pillemer organizes the book into six themes, including marriage, careers and happiness.
Read more ›
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
68 of 69 people found the following review helpful By D. Kanigan VINE VOICE on February 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At 20, I wouldn't have read it. I was in a hurry - learning, climbing. Mortality? Huh? At 30, it's family, career and it's obligations - no time to contemplate. Little time to read. At 40, I'm beginning to settle, mind is opening - I might have given this book a glance. But I'm wary. At x0, (I can't believe it or say it or type it). Where did the years go? My eyes are WIDE OPEN. I'm locked in on this book. Not sure how I tripped into the book. (Coincidence? Deepak Sharma would say Not.) I read an Amazon review where the reviewer described the book as "Profound." Really? How many top-10-list self-help books have I read? Not sure I can recall one lesson from these books. I was skeptical. (Highly). And I was wrong. (Again)

There is an estimated $1 billion spent each year on self-improvements books in the U.S. And more advice columns, television experts, and websites - all preaching advice of one sort or another. Yet none of them speak from experience of having lived and learned. Karl Pillemer, the author and a gerontologist at Cornell, interviewed more than 1,000 older Americans between the ages of 70 to 100 in search of lessons for living. He spent over 5 years on the project and summarized his findings in this book.
Read more ›
3 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By William J. Demo on December 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
30 Lessons for Living is a book to be savored. Written by Karl Pillemer, gerontologist and researcher at Cornell University, it is a product of the author's Legacy Project, a series of surveys and interviews conducted of those over 65, the "experts" on living to whom the book is dedicated. The purpose of the research is to identify the keys to the good life that those of a certain age have managed to uncover.

The book is broken down into several major themes having to do with such things as marriage, parenting, careers, health, and most generally how to achieve happiness. The lessons presented, with some exceptions--it's normal to have a favorite child--are not exactly earth-shattering. But the beauty of the book comes from the diversity of voices and individual expression that refract and enrich the observations from people who are remarkably aware and self-reflective.

Unfortunately, for stylistic reasons and because--at their age they know better--the thoughts and advice given here will be lost on youth. But for those who, like this writer, are on the cusp of seniorhood, the insights on lives well-lived are both instructive and heartening. This is a very good book for an individual reader contemplating life's "golden" years, even better if it can be shared across generations.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Fred on January 15, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm a physician who has been in practice for 28 years. One of the joys and privileges that I've always discussed and appreciated is the ability to speak to my older patients about their lives and experiences. I can't even begin to tell you how much I have enjoyed doing that and the amount that I have learned. They have much to say and we have much to learn.

Buy this book.In a disposable culture, books like this can lead to personal and cultural changes that are so necessary to help appreciate what life has to offer.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse