Bloggers are writers, and a number of us have published books covering some aspect of our lives, our retirements, our prescriptions for happiness. The special benefit? These are inside stories from people who have actually lived the experience.
I wrote my own book You Only Retire Once which came out ... yikes, it's almost four years ago now, in 2015. Kathy Gottberg has published several books, most recently 2017's Positive Aging: A SMART Living 365 Guide to Thriving and Wellbeing. And Laura Lee Carter has her 2016 memoir From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado.
Bob Lowry offers an inside perspective on his blog Satisfying Retirement. He currently has three books focusing on different aspects of retirement. They are all short, useful guides that offer basic, common-sense advice on how to make the most of this stage of life. I'd recommend them to anyone who is thinking about retirement, just starting out in retirement, or who needs a refresher course in what they should be doing, both financially and otherwise, during these most promising years.
More recently, in January of this year, Patricia West Doyle of the blog retirementtransition published Retirement Transition: An Innovation Approach (149 pgs.). In this book the author not only tells us what we should do, but she lays out a program to lead us through the process of how to actually do it.
During her career Doyle worked in consumer product and brand innovation. So it shouldn't surprise us that she's taken a corporate-style look at retirement. But don't be put off by this. In fact, she barely mentions the financial side of life. She focuses more on helping us define who we will be in retirement, where we are going and what we will do.
She offers a system that first, using "How-to Cool Tools," helps us figure out what our true interests are, what values we believe are important, and what truly motivates us (as opposed to being motivated by the needs of our boss, our children, our parents). I found it helpful, in reading the book, to stop and do her exercises and answer the questions. It helps us create a real vision for our retirement -- she urges us to think of this vision almost as a brand for ourselves -- instead of just some vague notion of our future lives.
She makes an important point. Some people know what their passion is, and they can't wait for retirement to pursue it. But a lot of us struggle to figure out "what we always wanted to do." That's okay, she says. We don't have to have a singular passion to start a rock band or save the animals or sail the South Pacific. We just have to live life according to our values, use our skills and talents, and hopefully leave the world (meaning, for most of us, our friends and family) a little better place for our being here.
I won't summarize the whole book for you. She goes on to look at various aspects of retirement and breaks them down into relevant questions and useful details that we can apply to our own lives in a practical way. The book is a lot more in-depth than the Lowry books, for people who are ready to do the work to analyze their lives and create their future.
Finally, Barbara Hammond of the blog Zero to Sixty & Beyond offers us Daddy Du Jour, (174 pgs.), published last month, which is not a retirement book at all. It's a memoir.
Hammond was born in Ohio in the early '50s and grew up in a dysfunctional family. Her father was gone. Her mother was a bi-polar, alcoholic narcissist who married six times -- although (according to the mother) none of the break-ups were her fault.
There are a lot of characters in the book, so it might help to take notes. But it is an honest, genuine look at a troubled childhood, and Hammond offers us some great anecdotes, sometimes in her engagingly sarcastic voice -- about some creepy and sometimes violent men, about a spanking she never got, going to a Southern Baptist church, taking a strange pill.
Despite her chaotic youth, she eventually managed to meet an honest man . . . and there is a happy ending. Who could ask for more?