The Swedish Art of Aging Exuberantly: Life Wisdom from Someone Who Will (Probably) Die Before You

In The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, Margareta Magnusson made a case for paring down one's belongings before infirmity makes the job impossible. "Remember, your kids and your other loved ones may want some of your stuff when you are gone--not all of your stuff," she reminds readers in her amiable and enlightening follow-up, the essay collectionThe Swedish Art of Aging Exuberantly: Life Wisdom from Someone Who Will (Probably) Die Before You.

Less single-minded than its predecessor, the book comprises, as Magnusson puts it, "discoveries I have made about becoming very old." The essays are prompted by reminiscences from a long life during which Magnusson, now a widowed octogenarian Stockholmer, and her husband, whose job required relocation, raised five kids on three continents; meanwhile, she pursued her art. (Her thumbnail vignettes speckle the essays.) Though The Swedish Art of Aging Exuberantly has a self-help-slash-advice-book aspect--most of the essays have imperative titles, such as "Eat Chocolate" and "Wear Stripes"--overall the offering has an autobiographical feel, including as it does Magnusson's recollections of attending a Chinese wedding while living in Singapore, being introduced to Halloween while living in the United States and so on. Her memories are springboards for insights: "I must admit I have not been open-minded all the time. I just wish I had." And it is with her customary plainspokenness that she shares such thoughts, adding her reason for writing such a short book: "Old people don't want to read four hundred pages--they may not live that long." --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

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