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Women Rowing North
by Mary Pipher
GENRE: Nonfiction, Psychology
A respected clinical psychologist offers insight into women’s experiences as they age. Using real-life anecdotes, the author explores ways that women can continue to find meaning in their later-life. A thoughtful, refreshing, and compassionate examination of women’s lives.
Mary Pipher graduated in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1969 and received her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska in Clinical Psychology in 1977. She was a Rockefeller Scholar in Residence at Bellagio and has received two American Psychological Association Presidential Citations, one of which she returned to protest psychologists’ involvement in enhanced interrogations at Guantánamo and other black sites.
Mary was born in the Ozarks and grew up in rural Nebraska. As a girl she liked reading, writing, swimming, being outdoors and talking to her friends and family. She still enjoys these activities. She is also a community organizer and activist for many causes. She lives in Nebraska with her husband Jim.
Pipher is the author of 11 books including 4 New York Times bestsellers including Reviving Ophelia and Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing As We Age. Her latest book is A Life in Light. - Author's website
/* Starred Review */ Pipher entered the national psychological/literary stage with 1994's Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, which addressed how teen girls, deluged with images of beauty and sexuality and societal demands, fall into depression, eating disorders, and low self-esteem. Now, after several other books, the renowned psychologist turns to the subject of older women to help navigate the muddy and turbulent waters of aging. Her message is uplifting and calming: now is the time of authenticity, gratitude, and adapting—to anything. Pipher's skill of listening to clients and parsing meaning is evident in this volume filled with stories of women in the throes of change. She advises altering ways of thinking and behaving as we age, as we are no longer just older versions of our younger selves. But hers is not a one-solution-fits-all, as she urges readers to make a difference and take it easy, to know boundaries and offer wisdom, to understand what to accept and what demands our flexibility. VERDICT Pipher's tribute to older women everywhere—those skilled, knowledgeable, and very wise—is simple: get involved, sit back, enjoy your life, be grateful, cherish every day. You've earned your happiness. [See "Editors' Fall Picks," LJ 8/18.] --Linda Beck (Reviewed 10/15/2018) (Library Journal, vol 143, issue 17, p68).
A distinguished clinical psychologist and bestselling author examines the personal and social issues that aging women face in modern American society. For women in transition between late-middle and old age, life becomes more difficult. Loss, especially through death, becomes the new norm as women see their bodies and minds devalued by society. To help women navigate these late-life "turns in the river," Pipher (The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in our Capsized Culture, 2013, etc.) offers practical wisdom based on interviews, research, and her own experiences as a therapist and aging woman. In the first section, the author highlights "the challenges of the journey," which she illustrates with real-life anecdotes. As Pipher writes, TV, "movies, fashion, and advertising rarely reflect the needs and circumstances of older women." Women who formerly felt attractive experience a "crisis of confidence," and many women find their bodies becoming more limited due to illness or age. In the second section, Pipher focuses on "travel skills" women need to manage this part of the journey. The ability to accommodate change is key, as is creating a community of individuals with whom to communicate and deflect the isolation that too often comes with age. Reframing "situations in positive ways, being thankful, and giving to others" are also skills that can help ease the journey forward. In the third section, the author emphasizes the importance of relationships. Female friendships, in particular, can bring comfort and pleasure, and for those whose marriages have survived into old age, partners and families can become safe havens. But the most important relationship an aging woman has will always be with herself. As Pipher notes in the final section, one of the greatest gifts of old age is the loss of "false selves" carried earlier in the journey and the emergence of a whole and authentic self. Eloquently compassionate and sure to appeal to late-life women, Pipher's book draws from a deep well of insight that is both refreshing and spiritually aware. Thoughtful, wise, and humane. (Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2018).
/* Starred Review */ Pipher (The Green Boat), best known for challenging the cultural perspective on teenage girls in 1994’s bestselling Reviving Ophelia, brings her professional skill as a cultural anthropologist and her personal experience as a woman transitioning from middle age to old age to a work chock-full of wisdom and consoling messages. Attentive to varying experiences of class, race, gender, health, and marital status, even as she considers the deep “challenges of aging, including ageism and lookism, caregiving, loss, and loneliness,” Pipher offers practical, specific advice. This includes walking readers through “deep breathing and centering exercises,” grandparenting “intentionally,” and dealing with end-of-life care. She pays particular attention to the importance of finding community, warning against the trap of becoming isolated, and rattling off a multitude of suggestions—readers could join a book group, “learn to kayak” (per the title), or “volunteer to teach English to refugees.” While a must-read for its target audience of women moving into old age, Pipher’s engaging book is an ought-to-read for their daughters and sons as well, as it sets forth the universal message that “happiness is a choice and a set of skills.” Agent: Susan Lee Cohen, Riverside Literary Agency. (Jan.) --Staff (Reviewed 07/16/2018) (Publishers Weekly, vol 265, issue 29, p).
by Lynn Segal
A polemical argument on the paradoxes, struggles and advantages of aging evaluates the struggles of baby boomers who are facing new challenges and questions about politics and identity, exploring such topics as later-in-life desire, the diminished circumstances of older women and the problems of managing loss and mortality.
by Shari Graydon
Presents essays and poems that celebrate the positive side of aging for women rather than mourning over the loss of youthfulness.
by Ann Burack-Weiss
Ann Burack-Weiss, a gerontologist with more than forty years of experience, analyzes and engages with the writings of a dozen well-known authors for insights into old age. Featured are Maya Angelou, Colette, Simone de Beauvoir, Joan Didion, M.F.K Fisher, Doris Grumbach, Carolyn Heilburn, Doris Lessing, Florida Scott-Maxwell, May Sarton, Anne Roiphe, and Alexis Kate Shulman, among others, all of whom wrote about essential issues in old age including physical changes and disability, living alone, reflecting on and revaluing the past, generativity, public life, and the changing roles of family and friends.