Visual or Audible: Great Books For Seniors

man reading a book

Reading helps improve capabilities such as memory, cognition and attention span, especially in seniors. With so many resources available — audiobook and traditional physical books — the choices can almost seem overwhelming. Here are a few great options to ignite the book lover inside of you.

5 Audiobook Suggestions Perfect for Seniors

As of 2021, there were over $1.6 billion in sales on audiobooks in the United States. More and more people are enjoying audiobooks because it’s easy to listen wherever you are. Here are a few great options to tickle your ears:

1.) Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie

This is a classic that deserves to be re-read (or re-listened to). If you’ve forgotten the story, it centers around a murder that takes place on a snowbound train (the Orient Express). It’s up to detective Hercule Poirot to find out who the real assassin is, and he’s got a fantastic list of colorful characters on board to choose from.

2.) Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor, and effortless precision—a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context, and new meaning to an American classic.

3.) The Price of Valor – David A. Smith

David A. Smith’s book is a must-read for elderly parents who served in World War II, or anyone who’s a history buff. This book takes a look at the life of a 17-year-old who was so determined to beat the Nazi regime, he forged his birth certificate to say he was 18 so he could enlist right away. He was ultimately successful in his attempts to keep the German army at bay at the Battle of Colmar Pocket, and became the most decorated hero of WW II.

4.) A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson

This is an outstanding book for all generations. Writer Bill Bryson does a most unusual and effective thing: he takes highly complex scientific terms (remember high school chemistry class?) and explains them in easy-to-understand terms that make them utterly fascinating. It’s a great listen for anyone interested in earth science, history and evolution. 

5.) The Four Agreements – Don Miguel

People are never too old to change their point of view, even our aging parents. If mom or dad likes Eckhart Tolle, give don Miguel Ruiz’s classic a spin. This audiobook explores the self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering.

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Hard Copy Books Seniors Will Love

1.) A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman

In this novel, a seemingly grumpy and bitter man hides behind a mean exterior. However, when new neighbors with young children move in next door, everyone sees a different side of him.

2.) The Mirror & the Light – Hilary Mantel

The story began in May 1536. A French executioner decapitates Queen Anne Boleyn in a heartbeat and while her remains are tossed into oblivion, Cromwell takes breakfast with her enemies. The blacksmith’s son from Putney rises to power and wealth from the bloodbath of the spring, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen, Jane Seymour.

3.) Invisible – Lorena McCourtney

As a well-written first-person mystery, Invisible is on the list of top ten novels chosen by seniors. Having a curious mind sometimes gets Ivy Malone into trouble, and her new discovery confirms that she can easily escape the public’s eye. Using her newfound anonymity and its unexpected advantages, she launches an unofficial investigation into vandalism at the local cemetery.

4.) The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

A wonderfully told story of a Cuban fisherman in the Gulf Stream. He kills and loses a giant marlin – specifically mentioned in the citation accompanying the author’s 1954 Nobel Prize nomination.

5.) Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell

  • New York Times Notable Book (2020)
  • Best Book of 2020: GuardianFinancial TimesLiterary Hub, and NPR
  • On the list of top ten must-read novels for seniors.

A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a tender and unforgettable re-imagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, and whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays of all time, Hamnet is mesmerizing, seductive, impossible to put down—a magnificent leap forward from one of our most gifted novelists.

At Optalis, avid readers have plenty of opportunities to get their hands on good reads, from mobile libraries to well-stocked bookshelves on site.

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