Book List

This list of books addressing the topic of Elderhood and second half of life expression was created by the MKP Elder Court in October of 2007:

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the content of the resources listed within this bibliography are solely those of the individuals providing them and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the ManKind Project USA.


Albom, Mitch. Tuesdays With Morrie. Doubleday. New York. 1997.

Description: Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago.

He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man’s life. Knowing he was dying, Morrie visited with Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final “class”: lessons in how to live.

“A beautifully written book of great clarity and wisdom that lovingly captures the simplicity beyond life’s complexities.” — M. Scott Peck, M.D.

“A deeply moving account of courage and wisdom, shared by an inveterate mentor looking into the multitextured face of his own death. There is much to be learned by sitting in on this final class.” — Jon Kabat-Zinn


Arrien, Angeles. The Second Half of Life. Sounds True tape series. Boulder, Colo. 1998.

Description: Dr. Arrien has examined the way diverse cultures handle the challenges unique to the “great crossing” at mid-life. Now in six challenging lectures – each one packed with mythological tales and elder wisdom. When you find the courage to change at mid-life, Dr. Arrien teaches, a miracle happens. Your character is opened, deepened, strengthened, softened.
You return to your soul’s highest values. You are now prepared to create your legacy: an imprint of your dream for our world – a dream that can only come true in the second half of life.


Balsekar, Ramesh. Consciousness Speaks – publisher, Advaita Press www.advaita.org/

Description: All there is, is Consciousness. If that is understood, completely, deeply, intuitively then you need read no further. Put the book down and go on joyously with the rest of your life. If, however, you belong to that massively larger group of people who consider themselves people, then perhaps there may be something here for you. (from the Editor’s Notes)


Bianchi, Eugene. Aging as a Spiritual Journey. Crossword. New York. 1982.

Description: This book examines the losses and threats posed by middle age and old age. Drawing together insight from the social sciences, humanities and religions the author develops a holistic framework for spirituality as we age.


Bolen, Jean Shinoda (2003). Crones Don’t Whine. Conari Press. Boston. 2003.

Description: In Crones Don’t Whine , Bolen’s playful sense of humor and keen insight combine to offer women thirteen qualities to cultivate. Engage in these small practices and you’re bound to be a happier person who’s doing her bit to make the world a better place.

“Women over 50 are a country to which this youth-obsessed culture has few guides. Whether we’re living there now or hope to be, Jean Shinoda Bolen gives us signposts to this land of wisdom, joy, freedom, and leadership.” – Gloria Steinem

“For women there is nothing more liberating than age if we learn to use our energy, power, and compassion. According to Jean Shinoda Bolen, mature women can be happier than ever before and if we work together, we can change the world. This is a lighthearted manual on how to become a juicy and wise old woman. I certainly want to be one of those crones who doesn’t whine!” – Isabel Allende


Bolen, Jean Shinoda. Goddesses in Older Women. HarperCollins. 2001.

Description: In the authors words- I have written Goddesses in Older Women so women may recognize and name what is stirring inside of them. The wellsprings for these feelings are the goddess archetypes within us, the patterns and energies in our psyches. By knowing whom the goddesses are, women can become more conscious than they would otherwise be of the potentials within them that, once tapped, are sources of spirituality, wisdom, compassion, and action. When archetypes are activated, they energize us and give us a sense of meaning and authenticity.

“Offers a brilliant and exhilarating perspective that will revolutionize every woman’s thinking about aging and free her to see the face in her mirror in a completely different way.” — Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.


Carlson, Richard and Shield, Benjamin. Healers on Healing publisher – Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc.

Description: In simple direct language, the contributors explore the complex nature of healing from many viewpoints. We hear from physicians, psychologists, nurses, metaphysical healers, and shamans. In thirty-seven essays, their topics include: what healing really is and how it takes place; the power of the healer within; what to look for in a healer; the function of spirituality in healing; the dramatic effects of the healing relationship; the role of attitudes and emotions; love as a healing force; healing and death.


Chinen, Allan. In The Ever After. Chiron Pub. Wilmette, Illinois. 1989.

Description: Fairy tales revealing a deep folk wisdom about the psychological tasks of the second half of life.

“A book glowing with magic and delight”. — Common Boundary

Dr. Chinen has written several books that address tales relating to different stages of life. He uses carefully chosen tales to demonstrate psychological theses in a helpful manner for modern people. This particular book addresses the latter half of life. It’s simply a delight to read, highly informative and valuable psychologically and otherwise. It specifically addresses the problems of the aging populace which differ substantially from those of younger people. Its hypothesis models (in my view) a cyclical trend where one comes back to where one started – but with a qualitative difference. This resembles a helix wherein one appears (in two dimensions) that one is going around in circles, but in truth one has progressed in the third dimension. This is like the different ways to look at a push-pen’s spring. You can look down the barrel, and it looks like a circle, but it isn’t – because it’s three dimensional. I’ve also read “Beyond the Hero” which addresses an earlier period in life, and “Once Upon a Midlife” which address the middle period of life. They form a wonderful trilogy. In this book, there are 16 short elder tales. Following each tale, Dr. Chinen presents a psychological analysis of the symbolism and deeper meanings buried in the tale. He also describes in a developmental way (from tale to tale – they are in a definite order in the book), the several psychological tasks challenging an elder. He differentiates between an elder and the elderly. The latter are merely old. The former are on the elder’s quest towards fulfillment and wholeness. This parallels Carl Jung’s individuation process. As in his other works, Dr. Chinen provides extensive footnotes for those wishing to pursue more academic studies of the subject – or just wishing to read more fairytales. There is a definite parallel between the symbols in these tales and those in dreams. As always, Dr. Chinen’s presentation is beautifully done and the book wonderfully structured.


Cohen, Andrew: Living Enlightenment: A Call for Evolution Beyond Ego; Moksha Press, P.O. Box 2360, Lenox, Massachusetts 01240, 2002.

Description: Cohen, a spiritual teacher is “in your face, disturbing you, terrifying you, until you radically awaken to who and what you really are. Cohen conveys the uncompromising yet ecstatically liberating perspective of enlightenment. His ideas are revolutionary. His ideas and style of writing will compel one to continue the journey towards the discovery of “ones original face.”


Crowly, Chris and Lodge, Henry S.: Younger Next Year: A Guide to Living Like 50 Until You’re 80 and Beyond.

Description: Younger next year is about how men can turn back their biological clocks. How they can become functionally younger every year for years to come, and continue to live with vitality and grace into their eighties and beyond. How they can avoid seventy percent of the decay and eliminate fifty percent of the injuries and illnesses associated with getting older. Exercise tells the body to grow. Sitting too long tells the body to decay. Eating a normal, balanced meal tells the body to grow. Overeating tells the body to decay. Connecting with family and friends tells the body to grow. Isolation and stress tell the body to decay.


Ford, Debbie: The Dark Side of the Light Chasers: Reclaiming Your Power, Creativity, Brilliance, and Dreams; Riverhead Books, A Division of Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, 1998.

Description: Shadow work, as Debbie Ford so clearly describes it in this book, refers to an ongoing process of depolarizing and balancing, of healing the split between our conscious sense of self and all else we are or might be. This work has benefits that reach far beyond the personal and can work for the greatest collective good.


Gutmann, David. Reclaimed Powers. Northwestern U. Press. Evanston, Ill.1994.

Description: A unique feature of human development is that mothers and fathers are bound to a long period of childrearing, distinct parental roles and call for the suppression of psychological potentials that conflict with those roles. After child rearing is over men and women can assert those parts of themselves curbed by the restrictions of raising children. David Gutmann to proposes a new psychology of aging, based not on the prospect of loss but on the promise of important new pleasures and capacities.


Dass, Ram. Still Here.Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying.Riverhead Books.New York. 2001.

Description: After a major stroke the author of “Be Here Now” wrote “Still Here”. He is deeply involved in the interface between spirituality and disability. He still gives us the rare opportunity to eavesdrop on his personal quest — that has always been his technique. He still speaks to spirituality — how we can find it, what to avoid — but he speaks with a new perspective. This is a reflection on the joys, pains and opportunities that appear as we age.


Hillman, James. “Senex and Puer” in Puer Papers. Editor. James Hillman. Spring Publications. Dallas. 1987.

Description: This book provides a rich introduction to two of the fundamental archetypes of human nature–the puer–the Naive Child and the senex–the Wise Old Man. Hillman is not always easy going (he presumes his reader is intelligent and has some mythological background), but he adeptly demonstrates the importance of these figures in the human psyche.


Hillman, James. The Force of Character. Ballantine Books. New York. 1999.

Description: This philosophy/psychology work on character and aging is not a self-help book but rather a self-perception book–philosophical, wise, and deep. “What does aging serve? What is its point?” Hillman discusses the three major changes that character undergoes in later life. First is “lasting,” which is the desire to live as long as possible. Next is “leaving,” where we change from holding on to letting go, and our character becomes more exposed and confirmed. The final stage is “left”: “what is left after you have left,”


Groff, Stanislav. Spiritual Emergency… When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis – publisher – Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc.

Description: In this book, foremost psychologists, psychiatrists, and spiritual teachers address the following questions: What is spiritual emergency? What is the relationship between spiritually “madness,” and healing? What forms does spiritual emergency take? What are the pitfalls – and promises – of spiritual practice? How can people in spiritual emergency be assisted by family, friends, and professionals?


Jones, Terry. Elder : A spiritual alternative to being elderly. Elderhood Institute. 2006.

Description: In Elder: A spiritual alternative to being elderly the reader will discover a generative model for moving from “adulthood” to a spiritual second-half-of-life expression called “elderhood”. In Elder older people are seen as capable of rediscovering their spiritual radiance and maintaining their social responsibilities as wisdomkeepers, earthkeepers, mentors and celebrants. Once elders were linked to the magic of the cosmos. The mature ones were the source of blessing and taught the youth about our oneness with the universe. They fostered an oral tradition and offered wisdom. With the advent of the Industrial Era, however, people began leaving farms and villages to work in the growing cities. Soon older people became “the elderly” and all too often portrayed in a negative model of aging that led to seclusion, rejection and a fear of or longing for the end of life.

The elderly grew distant from the young and became characterized by words such as “disengagement” and “retired”. Our pattern of the past three hundred years has been to reach the zenith of our influence in midlife, then give way to an inevitable decline as we grow older. Dr Jones believes an elder is any older person who is committed to sharing her or his wisdom, remain accessible to those who might be served and celebrate their long lives by harvesting the seeds they have sown.


Jones, Terry. The Elder Within: Source of Mature Masculinity. Elderhood Institute. 2001.

Description: Review by Barry C. Schlimme, A New Warrior brother from Ohio. Jones, in very simple English, tells us what happened, where we’re at, and where we need to go. I couldn’t put the book down. There is so much wisdom in less than two hundred pages. I spoke to two men who seldom finish a book, and both said they only read a third of the book, but what they did read was good. I told them that all they read was how we got off track. The how-to, the action to take, the gold, is in the last third of the book, just like it is in the last third of life. Jones dispels the belief that our final years should be either of self-indulgence in our motor homes and on the Florida beaches, or of sitting around wondering why we can’t be young. He provides all sorts of ways to be in truly enjoyable service, and suggests that our indulgence can come in the form of sharing our stories and watching as our mentorship makes a difference in the earth, our community, or in the life of a mentee.

Since the majority of Americans are going to be in the over-fifty range soon, the book could not be more timely. This book will change your way of looking at either what you’ve been missing (if you are over 50) or what you have to look forward to (if you are under fifty). At 54 and recently laid off from my sales career, The Elder Within has shown me the path for the rest of my life. It will be my handbook from here on out.


Katie, Byron: Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life; Three Rivers Press, New York, New York, 2002.

Description: “The Work”, four questions which are presented in the text for the purpose of assessing what is in ones life. It (The Work) has no motive, no strings. It’s nothing without your answers. These four questions will join any program you’ve got and enhance it. Any religion you have, they’ll enhance it. If you have no religion, they will bring you joy. And they’ll burn up anything that isn’t true for you. They’ll burn through to the reality that has always been waiting.


Kilhefner, Don. “Gay Adults! Gay Adults! Where are you?” White Crane (a magazine of “gay wisdom & culture”) Summer 2006; issue 69 www.gaywisdom.org for ordering back issues

Description: A great article about why gay elders matter.


Kornfield, Jack. A Path With Heart…A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life publisher – Bantom Books

Description: This important guidebook shows in detail and with great humor and insight the way to practice the Buddha’s universal teachings here in the West. Jack Kornfield is a wonderful storyteller and a great teacher.” — Thich Nhat Hanh


Lakritz, Kenneth R and Knoblauch, Thomas M. Elders on Love publisher – Parabola Books

Description: Elders on Love is a magnificent testament to our innate human capacity to espouse, embrace, and receive love in our lives. If any book can bring together the old and the young in a new spirit of dialogue about what really matters, this book can.” Keith Thompson, To BE a Man


Leder, Drew. Spiritual Passages. Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam. New York. 1997.

Description: Opportunities for personal growth and a deeper understanding of self and spirit increase as we experience each stage of life. By using illustrative stories from history, mythology, and literature, philosopher/scholar Drew Leder guides us through the crossroads of our journey. Following each narrative are thought-provoking techniques for integrating the lessons into daily life. From Publishers Weekly:

In this well-crafted exploration of the spiritual passages of aging and death, Leder (The Absent Body) draws upon many religious traditions to illustrate a number of ways in which aging and death may be “embraced” as part of a “sacred journey.” In four sections, Leder explores the awareness and acceptance of aging and death; the aged as bearing great wisdom; the compassionate service that the aged provide society; the confrontation and reconciliation with past and future that aging brings; and the suffering and joy that are part of the aging process. He recounts the story of Buddha’s exposure to sickness and aging to illustrate the Buddha’s awareness and acceptance of life’s limits. The stories that Leder draws upon range from Native American legends and Hindu tale about the stages of life to the Christian story of Jesus’ Passion and Dickens’s tale of Scrooge. Leder intersperses questions throughout his reflections on the stories, and he ends each chapter with questions for guided meditation on particular aspects of aging. Three appendixes offer additional resources.


Levine, Stephen. Who Dies… An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying An Anchor Press Book – Doubleday

Description: “Stephen’s work is magic. His work with the grieving and dying is amongst the most skillful and compassionate that I am aware of in this country.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

“… This book has addressed itself to the many aspects of the dying process with refreshing insight, candor, and lightness. It invites us to look directly at ‘what is’, with clarity and without judgment. It divests the incredible melodrama called ‘death’ of its frightful power, supplanting fear with calm, simple, compassionate understanding.” – from the Preface by Ram Dass


Levinson, Daniel J. The Seasons of a Man’s Life. Ballantine Books. NY. 1978.

Description: The first full report from the team that discovered the patterns of adult development, this breakthrough study ranks in significance with the original works of Kinsey and Erikson, exploring and explaining the specific periods of personal development through which all human begins must pass–and which together form a common pattern underlying all human lives.

“A pioneering and radical theory of adult development.” CHICAGO TRIBUNE


Lozoff, Bo. Just Another Spiritual Book by Bo Lozoff … www.humankindness.org/ (check out this site for other great books and audio’s)

Description: From the preface: Like a roomful of mirrors with only one object in the middle, the hundreds of pages in this book reflect a single, simple truth: Life is The Great Mystery, not The Great Problem. Each of us can directly experience the Heart of Mystery if we but learn to see clearly and act in truth.


Palmer, Parker J: A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward An Undivided Life; Jossey-Bass, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 989 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, 2004.

Description: This book brings together four themes. The shape of an integral life, the meaning of community, teaching and learning for transformation, and nonviolent social change.


Raines, Robert. A Time to Live. Seven Steps in Creative Aging. A Plume Book. New York.1997.

Description: In A Time To Live, Robert Raines explores the spiritual and emotional dimensions of what can be the most rewarding time of life. Drawing on his experiences as an ordained minister and as director of a non-denominational retreat center focusing on issues of personal growth, Raines delineates the important passages we must all make from our middle years in the process of growing older. In an approach that is both meditative and inspirational, drawing from a variety of backgrounds, anecdotes, and literature, Raines provides a new perspective on the aging process and its implications. To make the most of this ultimate period of life, he argues, we must each confront certain issues: waking up to mortality, embracing sorrow, savoring blessedness, re-imagining work, nurturing intimacy, seeking forgiveness, and taking on the mysterious process of exploring what is yet to be done in life with a sense of possibility and hope. For the millions of baby boomers just entering their fifties and others approaching their sixties who are determined to be aware and take advantage of the challenges they face, A Time To Live, is the only book to directly address their needs. Sure to be a welcome and important spiritual guide for many, it offers the possibility of fulfillment and personal satisfaction.


Robinson, John. Death of a Hero. Birth of the Soul. Answering the Call of Midlife. Council Oak Books. Tulsa, OK. 1995.

Description: The “Hero Journey” from dependent child to responsible adult is a central theme in all the world’s mythologies. At the same time, the equally compelling journey from youth to middle age has been largely ignored. John Robinson sets out to correct that oversight in Death of a Hero, Birth of the Soul, a study of the spiritual and psychological realities of male midlife. By blending psychological research, mythology, poetry, mysticism, and personal experiences, Dr. Robinson weaves a story that is uniquely personal and speaks to the heart of every individual excited about the possibilities of entering the second half of life.


Ruiz, Donald: The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom Book.

As children we didn’t have the opportunity to choose our beliefs, but we agreed with the information that was passed on to us from the dream of the planet via other humans. And through the domestication we learn how to live the dream. The Four Agreements serve as guideposts to living a less conflicted life with one’s self.


Schachter-Shalomi, Zalman. Ageing to Sageing. Warner Books. N.Y. 1995.

Description: Rabbi Schachter-Shalomi introduces the concept of “eldering,” or mentoring, each other in the years ahead. He contends that we are at the cutting edge of the next stage in our evolution and that elders will bring us into this more compassionate, intuitive, and caring era. In Part 1 of the book, Schachter-Shalomi recommends meditation, exercise, and spiritual healing to help individuals enter their later years, while in Part 2 he speaks to our limited perceptions of death. Creating ceremonies and learning to forgive help ease the transition into death, according to Schachter-Shalomi, who believes in the certainty of life after death. Adding a personal dimension, the rabbi compassionately relates his own mental crisis as he approaches the age of 60 to help readers understand the process.


Sheehy, Gail. Understanding Men’s Passages: Discovering the New Map of Men’s Lives. Ballantine Publishing Group. N.Y. 1999

Description: Inspired by her husband’s struggle with a midlife career crisis, Sheehy has compiled nearly 10 years worth of interviews and research into this book, revealing the fears and self-doubts of men over 40 who struggle with identity crises both at work and with their partners and children. Sheehy also defines male menopause as a period in which hormones, including testosterone–and therefore potency and sex drive–drop, and men suffer from irritability and mood swings. She cites the statistics that claim more than 52 percent of men between the ages of 40 and 70 can expect some degree of impotence–which translates into at least 20 million men.

“When ignored or denied, this sexual freeze extends more deeply into every aspect of a man’s life than was previously thought,” she writes. “It can be an underlying cause of depression, divorce, even suicide.”

The men Sheehy interviewed were surprisingly candid about their situations and are glad that they’ve opened up a discourse. Says one man about the silence regarding sexual changes his father endured during his passage into male menopause: “The only sign of getting older probably was that earlier trip to the bathroom in the morning–which we call the six a.m. passage.” In addition to covering male menopause and the latest treatments for impotence, Sheehy also includes chapters on how to handle empty-nest syndrome, job downsizing, and the strain on marriage that retirement brings about, but her main point rings clear throughout: “We need an expanded definition of manliness.”


Simmons, Leo. The Role of the Aged in Primitive Society. New Haven. 1945.

No review for this book.


Suzuki, David and Peter Knudtson. Wisdom of the Elders. Bantam Books. New York. 1992.

Description: This book provides an interesting examination of some of the ecological themes that are of concern both to scientists and indigenous people in various parts of the world. The authors contend that these two groups pursue their knowledge of the natural world in different but complementary ways and often come to similar conclusions. Throughout, the scientific viewpoint is compared to the native perspective. Each chapter focuses on a particular ecological or biological topic, and several pertinent examples from a variety of traditional world cultures are described. Relevant quotations from well-known scientists and ecologists are interspersed within the text, providing further thoughtful commentary. Overall, this is a well-organized, sensitive, and thought-provoking work that will be useful in popular science and ecology collections.


Thomas, William H: What Are Old People For?: How Elders Will Save the World.

Description: There is a new old age waiting to be discovered, ready to be explored. Dr. Thomas shows in this publication how we can:

  • Enjoy what aging has to offer us, and actually welcome it into our lives.
  • Abolish today’s version of nursing homes so that no elder has to fear being placed in an institution.
  • Develop the capacity for peace making and wisdom giving that grows within older
  • Create Green Houses-Communities where older people live together intentionally, bringing meaning and worth to the last half of life.
  • Begin building a society where aging and longevity are used to improve life for people of all ages.

Dr. Thomas describes how our obsession with youth damages the well-being of all, young and old alike, and he offers an alternative. He blends the spirit of optimism with useful advice, helping us see society in a new light.


Tzu, Ram No Way … for the Spiritually “Advanced” publisher – Advaita Press www.advaita.org/

Description: Blending paradox, wit, satire and insight, Ram Tzu creates a view of spirituality that is truly unique. One minute we are howling with laughter, the next squirming in self-conscious recognition as Ram Tzu holds up a perfect mirror and then points out we aren’t wearing any clothes.


Woodman, Marion. The Crown of Age. Sounds True, P.O. Box 8010, Boulder CO 80306.

Description: Two CD Disc Set. Woodman introduces the listener to concepts related to conscious aging. The concepts presented are applicable to both male and female.


Zubko, Andy. Treasury of Spiritual Wisdom… A Collection of 10,000 Inspirational Quotations publisher – Blue Dove Press

Description: If you are a thoughtful, spiritually conscious person who would like to apply the wisdom of the ages in a practical way to your daily life, this handy reference book will become an indispensable companion. Here you will find inspiring thoughts off philosophers, the compassionate words of saints, the visions of shamans, the insights of the enlightened, the teachings of the prophets, as well as the cutting insights of well-known and not so-well-known people from many walks of life.