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What Is She Reading? Judith von Seldeneck

Below, Judith von Seldeneck, member of our Advisory Council, offers her thoughts on “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake,” in the first edition of “What is She Reading?”

Book Overview: In Anna Quindlen’s new memoir, “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning author applies her characteristic warmth and humor to an all-too-familiar topic: aging. As in her beloved New York Times columns, Quindlen explores the wants and needs of women at every life stage, concluding that every age is worth celebrating.

Judith’s Review: Anna Quindlen’s latest memoir is a compilation of the author’s personal reflections on aging, which will resonate with all women, regardless of age. In it, Quindlen shares a view of aging that runs contrary to that if our youth-obsessed culture: “old” is just “whatever you haven’t gotten to yet. Quindlen is equally out of step with materialism: she writes that the “stuff” we accumulate in life is far less important than the memories we collect over a lifetime. To reinforce her optimistic outlook, Quindlen references the plaque on her refrigerator, which reads, “Work like you don’t need the money; love like you’ve never been hurt; dance like no one’s looking.”

I found the memoir to be a very uplifting and insightful, especially as it related to the lives of career women. I was especially inspired by her viewpoint that life can continue to be rewarding and stimulating, even as we age. She writes that one of the most dignified opportunities to remain engaged in life as we age is to lend a hand to younger women. “Rise up, reach down,” as she says. I also loved her observation that women’s lives are about constant redefinition. Therefore, we are less shaken by retirement than men, who are used to maintaining the status quo throughout their lives. I came away from “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake” feeling more engaged in my life and inspired to age optimistically!