Book Review: The Hourglass: Life as an Aging Mortal

Part memoir, part self-help guide, The Hourglass: Life as an Aging Mortal is a poignant yet direct conversation about aging. Author Pamela Cuming does an extraordinary job of juggling the emotional issues surrounding aging with the pragmatism required to effectively convey her ideas.

Cuming alternates between personal vignettes of her own confrontations with death and a more academic discussion of the psychology of aging. Using her own family as an example, she offers an interesting look into the dominate mindsets surrounding aging: The castaway, the stargazer, the warrior, the celebrant, and the sage. She artfully explains how different mindsets approach the aging process and how these differing mindsets within a family can create conflict during end-of-life situations.

At the end of the book, Cuming provides some mental exercises for the reader to map out their own approach to aging. I would suggest it would be most effective for the reader to complete these exercises before reading the book. First, this will help avoid the tendency to try and shape answers to fit the desired mindset you want to be. Second, this will allow you to better apply the information to yourself as you go through the book.

Reviewer note: I was given a comp copy of this book for review and criticism.