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30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans Paperback – October 30, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 169 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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

Praise for 30 Lessons for Living
 
"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")

“[A]n invaluable source of help, if anyone is willing to listen while there is still time to take corrective action.” —The New York Times 
 
“[Pillemer] has given a voice to the unheard — and turned some conventional thinking about aging on its head.” —The Washington Post
 
“Wouldn't it be great if we could get a "do-over" in life, like when you were a kid and a ball rolled into traffic? Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist at Cornell University, can't fix the mistakes of the past, but he does have some ideas on how we can have fewer regrets in the future.” —Chicago Tribune

About the Author

KARL PILLEMER, PH.D., is the founder and director of the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging. 
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (October 30, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452298482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452298484
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (169 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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