“Lifestyle” and “self-help” books are a mixed bag. The best deserve to be read cover-to-cover. Alternately, for others the cover flap tells readers all they need to know (or not) about what’s inside. Then there’s the books that warrant consideration but not commitment, in which case the table of contents can serve as a roadmap for readers to explore potential destinations of interest. And for still further consideration, a book’s index can provide an impatient reader with a handy, detailed assessment of the content’s relevance.
With Better with Age: The Psychology of Successful Aging by Alan D. Castel, PhD, the index in particular favors the cursory previewer with its remarkably extensive and diverse entries. Hundreds of words help readers easily locate the content’s pertinent references to research, authorities, organizations and key issues. Plus, dozens more are so intriguing they literally compel curious scanners to flip to the applicable pages.
It is by including these unexpected, but thoughtfully articulated (and meticulously indexed) references that Castel adds both insight and color to Better with Age.
For example, there are these page-turners:
The wit and wisdom of Maya Angelou warranted seven Index entries. About memory and recall, Castel included this profound observation from Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you’ve said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Chuck Berry is referenced to illustrate a theory about compensating for a decline in abilities as we age. Castel shared how in his 80s Berry employed “varying tempo, substituting words, and, in general improvising as he saw fit, as a true, aging artist.”
Oh The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss is mentioned to emphasize the wisdom and opportunities that come with age. Castel writes how the literary classic “outlines the journey of life, unknown adventures, and challenges of new beginnings in life.”
A Mark Twain quote reinforces how each of us has a story to tell, one with value and originality. “There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside the dullest exterior, there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy.”
Castel’s application of these and other indexed entries, like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (three times), Art Linkletter, McDonald’s, Netflix, Skype and (of course) Betty White among others, gives unique and welcome context to valuable, yet increasingly familiar subject matter. To his credit, Castel cleverly distinguishes Better with Age as an entertaining and instructive entry amid the over-abundance of “guides to successful aging.”