World Book Day 2021: Our top picks for ageing and longevity

At the UK's National Innovation Centre for Ageing, we wanted to celebrate World Book Day 2021 by highlighting ten books we recommend.


These books – a mixture of fiction, non-fiction, and academic texts – have been written by a wide range of authors with diverse backgrounds, but have one important thing in common – they each help to shape a new narrative around ageing and longevity.

In no particular order, here are our top picks! #ageingintelligence

The Longevity Economy: Inside the World’s Fastest-Growing, Most Misunderstood Market (2017) by Joseph F. Coughlin

The book that defined the ‘Longevity Economy’ from one of the world’s thought leaders in ageing and longevity. Coughlin’s writing combines – finally – a fresh, business-driven perspective with the opportunities of longevity, backed up by years of research from the MIT AgeLab. The Longevity Economy is a provocative, illuminating, brilliant text about ourselves and the world we sometimes do not realise we are living in. A must read.

Girl, Woman, Other (2019) by Bernadine Evaristo

Booker Prize-winning Girl, Woman, Other is an incredibly rich novel, one which explores key issues in race, sexuality, gender, economics, and politics. What we find particularly interesting about the novel is its positive and authentic treatment of age: the older characters are strong, independent, and at times subversive – always well-rounded, always multi-dimensional, and rarely stereotypical.

The End of Age: Why Everything About Aging is Changing (2001) by Tom Kirkwood

2021 marks the twentieth anniversary of this masterpiece, a landmark study of (probably) the most authoritative contemporary British author in longevity, who is at the forefront of challenging and expanding understandings of how biological ageing processes work. Whilst ‘there are certain inescapable realities about ageing of the body’, ageing processes are now known to be much more malleable than originally thought. Kirkwood guides us in a journey that challenges, page after page, our preconceptions on ageing and the impacts they have on our societal structure. 20 years on, this remains an exceptionally relevant book.

The Thursday Murder Club (2020) by Richard Osman

The Thursday Murder Club is not only a lot of fun, but it’s a decidedly un-stereotypical depiction of older adults. They are a diverse group with rich professional backgrounds: Elizabeth is a former intelligence agent, Ron a former trade unionist, Joyce a former nurse, and Ibrahim a former psychiatrist. The result is a comedic yet thought-provoking plot which sheds light on what retired people can achieve.

From What Is to What If: Unleashing the Power of Imagination to Create the Future We Want (2019) by Rob Hopkins

This book is just the powerful and inspirational read we need in these unprecedented times. Hopkins uses real world crises like climate change to show how a lack of imagination has led to problems such as these. Hopkins has collected many examples of people who are working and #innovating to build a more sustainable world, which we at NICA love to read about.

The Keeper of Lost Things (2017) by Ruth Hogan

The Keeper of Lost Things is a wonderfully touching novel, with a story about the power of intergenerational relationships, memory, and connection – topics we often discuss with our VOICE community members.

Contemporary Perspectives on Ageism (2018) edited by Liat Ayalon and Clemens Tesch-Römer

This book is probably the most rich, wide-ranging, and complete collection of research evidence around age discrimination in the 21st century. Edited by some of the most influential researchers on this topic, this book helps its reader to discover and understand the impact of ageism on work, sexuality, media, health, and the mainstream narrative. Let this book serve as your one-stop-shop when it comes to recognising age bias.

The Lido (2018) by Libby Page

The Lido is a heart-warming testament to the power of collective action and inter-generational friendship. It is also a nuanced and innovative portrayal of loneliness in youth: in The Lido it is not 86-year-old Rosemary who is chronically lonely, but 26-year-old Kate, which helps to rethink the mainstream ageist narrative.

Live Longer with AI: How artificial intelligence is helping us extend our healthspan and live better too (2020), by Tina Woods with Melissa Ream

Our director of NICA, Nic Palmarini, was lucky enough to review this book when it was published. He said: ‘Dialoguing with Tina is one of the most satisfying exercises for the mind that can be done. Tina has an extraordinary ability to make you sail far ahead of the challenges of our society while pushing you to explore the hidden folds of opportunity when aging and longevity are associated with emergency technologies. Tina is like a modern-day Virgil: she leads the way, but does it by leaving you in charge. This book is tangible proof of this.’

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (1990) by Dr. Seuss

Although written by children’s author Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is a truly ageless classic. The text is all about the wisdom older adults can pass onto younger generations: how to be proactive and accept responsibility, the importance of stepping outside of our comfort zones, how to deal with failure, how to avoid procrastination, and how to continuously work towards goals. A fantastic text to bring generations together.

We hope you enjoy reading our top picks, which are available from many online retailers and in all good bookshops (when safe to visit!).