Sunday, August 24, 2014

Guidebooks Wanted

Over at Tungsten Hippo, I wrote about some books that have helped me better understand racism. It is a very incomplete reading list, and I welcome suggestions for other books to read.

As I thought about that post, I realized that books have helped me understand a lot of things better. (Duh.) I think I need to search for some books to read about getting older- not so much from the accepting mortality point of view, but from the standpoint of acclimating to the physical and mental changes that happen as you enter middle age. I am certain there are some good books out there on this topic, and I think I should seek them out.

Because honestly, I am struggling a bit with this whole aging thing. I don't mind getting older in theory, but in practice, the symptoms suck. I'm trying to figure out which symptoms to fight (weight gain), which to accept (wrinkles), which to embrace (fewer cat calls!), and which might actually need some medical intervention (fun fact: the birth control that's best for you can change as you age). Those are the easy ones. What about the heartburn I've been getting? Where did that come from all of the sudden? Don't get me started on the sleep disturbances. Just when Petunia is starting to sleep through the night more often, I find that I can't count on staying asleep all night anymore. That is so unfair.

And that's just the physical changes- I'll spare you the whining about mood swings and that weird antsy feeling I get where I want to crawl out of my own skin.

I want a guidebook, or at least a funny travelogue from someone who's been here before me.

Anyone have any suggestions? Or do I need to throw myself on the mercy of Amazon's algorithms?


  1. Alexicographer7:07 AM

    I regret that I have no book/resource recommendations, though will scan comments with interest to see if any others do.

    The one possibly useful insight I have -- though to be honest this can go either way -- is that it's good to have a good GP and to try to work with her or him to try figure out when problems aren't "just" aging and/or can be treated. I accepted hypothyroidism for years (back at a time when in retrospect I wasn't even aging yet ;)) because I figured fatigue, lower sex drive, etc. were part of getting older. In my case -- that wasn't it (also, subclinical hypothyroidism has come to be recognized as a possibly treatment-worthy condition, contingent on symptoms, which was less true when mine was developing).

    The "either way" problem I refer to above is that the amount of testing and/or tweaking worth doing, and what will and won't turn out to be treatable, is unclear. Sigh.

    I can tell you that my DH's heartburn turned out to be related to another common "aging" problem, hiatal hernia. But then again, his presented basically as symptoms of a heart attack (which is apparently not uncommon) so maybe yours is more mundane in origin.

    This is, indeed, tedious stuff.

  2. I haven't read it but I read that this book by Nora Ephron is good "I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman"

  3. Anonymous11:26 AM

    I can really relate to your description of what it's like to get older! (I spent most of last night awake with the Menards advertising jingle running through my head.) I wish I could suggest an amusing guidebook, but I haven't found one yet. But I can recommend against Menopause Sucks. It got great reviews on amazon, but it is not funny and not informative. (Many readers thought it was funny, but the humor in the book relies on offensive gender stereotypes. Actual sentence: "Sob hysterically at the dinner table, and no one will complain about the cold meatloaf.") For overall information (eg, that's useful for deciding if something is normal aging vs a problem in need of treatment), I thought Menopause for Dummies was quite good.

    Insect Biologist

  4. Anonymous7:28 AM

    As a middle aged neuroscientist, I recommend the Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind, By Barbara Strauch. Helped me see that the cognitive changes were not all bad...

  5. Judith Viorst? I remember my mother had several of her books and liked them, but I don't know how they hold up.


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