I belong to a wonderful group called Books for Older Readers. Now before you wonder why a group would restrict itself to people who are ‘old’, consider this.
I am old – by definition –since the media frequently refer to people over the age of 60 as elderly (I wonder how those who are a decade and two older than me feel about that). Goodness only know where the years went but suddenly I find my self in the old-age category.
There are a lot of people like me who have lived a full life but I’m also many other things: creative, short, happy, a mother, a wife, a friend and so much more. But mostly, a reader (oh, and I write too). There are many others like me but just like books we don’t fit into any one category.
If I am to categorise myself like booksellers shelve their wares, where do I fit? I’m of European descent (historical fiction), Celtic to be specific (lots of Scottish, Irish and Welsh history, romance and power struggles), female (women’s fiction and romance), and married to a man (self-help books on the secrets of a long marriage).
We have one daughter and one son (adult readers), two granddaughters and two grandsons (past the picture books and chapter books stage and into YA and New Age, and whatever else the current trends are) and I’m in my seventh decade. That means I’m well and truly decrepit. If 60 is elderly, what is 70, 80 or 90? Ancient monuments or lively characters? I’d prefer the latter description.
We should fight back, but in my experience we don’t, we tend to age a little more gracefully. What we do instead, is bring a world of experience to the conversation. We have stories to tell about life, about world events and family tragedies and ways of coping. We have lived and thus, we have knowledge, sometimes learnt the hard way and are happy to share what we enjoy and express an opinion on what we don’t.
So, by definition, I’m white, female, straight and old. I’m not sure I like the last description but one cannot deny one’s age never mind how hard we try. And because of one’s age, there are topics some of us may not want to read about. As I grow older, I dislike watching or reading about violence, which I find gratuitous, torturous or needless. I don’t need to read detailed descriptions of what two people do together in the name of love, I know what I know. Werewolves, and shape shifters do nothing for me. I like cosy. Others may like edgy, but I do like to read about topics that concern me.
Topics such as those about second chances, late life career changes, adjusting to retirement, bereavement, love in later life, divorce, relationships with adult offspring and aging parents. I love stories with older characters whose age is in some way central to the plot. All of this with a touch of laughter, a touch of sadness, and without stereotyping any of the characters.
We are all different, and we like to read a range of topics. Hurray for readers who love their chosen genres and talk about their favourite books. Every author deserves to be read. They pour their heart and soul into writing what they love so the readers can be entertained and taken out of themselves for a while. So I quite like it that I know BFOR will offer me books I will enjoy. There’s lots of choice.
Check them out – you might be surprised by what you find. There is a depth to the writing to be found on the site, with nuances and laughter that we older folk understand.
Share the books you love, comment and add to the conversation. The more engagement, the better.
Catch up with Claire Baldry who established BFOR in October 2017 to promote books (mainly fiction) with older protagonists or themes such as ‘second chances’, which she believes tends to appeal to readers in mid-life or beyond on Facebook or their website
You can find me and The Cornish Knot on Bookshelf 4
And find my other historical fiction family sagas set in New Zealand on my website
I’d love to meet you.