Friday, June 8, 2012

"Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake," by Anna Quindlen

As a member of the Baby Boomer generation, I enjoy reading memoirs and other books written by my contemporaries; I feel a real connection to people who have experienced the same slice of time, of history, at the same age. There have been several books by Baby Boomers about what it is like to get into the territory formerly labeled “old.” Of course my generation, with its sense of itself as exceptional, has relabeled these years. “Sixty is the new forty.” “Old age now means at least 70 or 75.” These are the stories we tell ourselves. We are too healthy, too active, too involved, to be old. (Except for when we are not; we have all experienced, or had friends our age who have experienced, serious health problems.) One such book is the one I have just read, Anna Quindlen’s “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake: A Memoir” (Random House, 2012). Quindlen, a novelist/journalist/columnist/self-help author, shares memories of her own life and work, along with reflections on aging and intimations of mortality both as she has experienced them and in a wider context. One section I particularly liked was her thoughts on the big changes in women’s lives over the past 40 years or so, and the related issues that still exist. The book is thoughtful and serious, yet with a light touch. It is easy to read and to connect to, especially for fellow Baby Boomer women, but I think younger and older readers would enjoy the book as well.

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