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30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans Paperback – Deckle Edge, October 30, 2012
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"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 review; one of the Top Self-Help Books of 2011)
"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
"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
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.
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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. Lessons range from:
* Lessons for a Happy Marriage (Marry Someone a Lot Like You; Friendship is Important; Don't Keep Score; Talk to Each Other; Commit to Marriage not just your Partner)
* Lessons for a Successful and Fulfilling Career (Seek Intrinsic Rewards, not financial ones; Don't give up looking for a job you love; Make the Most of a Bad Job, Emotional Intelligence Trumps all; Everyone needs autonomy)
* Lessons for Parenting (It's all about time; It's normal to have favorites but don't show it; Don't Hit Your Kids; Avoid A Rift At All Costs; Take A Lifelong View of Relationships with Children)
* Lessons For Aging Fearlessly and Well (Being Old is Much Better than you think; Act Now Like You will need your body for 100 years; Don't Worry About Dying; Stay Connected to others; Plan ahead where you will live)
* Lessons For Living a Life Without Regrets (Always be honest; Say Yes to Opportunities; Travel More; Choose a Mate with Extreme Care; Say It Now before it is too late)
* Lessons for Living Like an Expert (Choose Happiness; Time is of the Essence; Happiness is a Choice, not a condition; Time Spent Worrying is Wasted; Think Small; Have Faith; Live by the Golden Rule)
I was deeply moved by this book. I found myself being pulled along - with skepticism being stripped down to bare bones of belief as I turned the pages. He's on to something. The power of this book is in the stories and the anecdotes of the "experts" (the term he uses to describe the elders who are interviewed for his research). The voices of experts are calm...peaceful...learned...zen-like. The author weaves lessons and stories gently throughout - - a slow moving stream making its way south.
Though I would like to have heard more of those voices, and less of Dr. Pillemer's voice, I recommend this book to anyone at any age. It makes me wonder what my generation, particularly my peers who grew up as children of divorces and so were working on their relationships from a different point of reference than most of the experts in this book, will have to say about our relationships and marriages, and the kind of advice we'll give about to the next generation about love when we're in our 80's and upwards.
I hope someone will follow in Dr. Karl A. Pillemer's path, and keep this wonderful work up. Enjoy!
The subjects addressed are marriage, career, parenting, aging, regrets, happiness, and the importance of listening. I like the way that thousands of interviews with real people became 5 lessons at the end of each chapter. It's not easy to make a mountain of data into digestible information useful to the general public.
This is academic research with direct application to the real world. I hope many read and heed.
I particularly appreciate how Karl steered clear from the obvious lessons. Though he certainly did plenty of distillation, I loved how he allowed the voice of the "experts" (his term for those in their 70's, 80's, and 90's) to permeate the book.
I enthusiastically recommend this book and have added this book to my gift list for college grads and newlyweds. Don't miss the website for The Legacy Project for more information on Karl's research.