Friday, May 14, 2010

Older Women, Younger Books

by Stephen J. Gertz
“Experts warn that settling down with a ‘boy toy’ can reduce a woman’s life expectancy. However, older men with younger wives appear to live longer. Researchers said that while cougars, older women in their 30s and 40s who date much younger men, may believe that having a younger partner will help to keep them youthful the opposite appears to be true” (The Telegraph).

Women who read books younger than they are may be shortening their lives, according to a study released yesterday by the Mortimer Adler Institute for the Study of Reading and Longevity. The newer the book, the greater the chance that a woman may not make it to Golden Girl status.

If the book is seven to nine years younger than the female reader, her risk of prematurely dying increases by 20%.

The study also found that women who read books too much their senior may face a similar fate.

Researchers found that the Goldilocks Mean for women in a relationship with a book is when the book and woman are about the same age; statistically, they're “just right.”

Sal Hepatica, lead researcher at the Adler Institute, stated that "it appears that a woman's best book-match is with a volume published five years before or five years after her birth date. The issue revolves around stress. If the book is too much younger than the woman, she can't keep up with it, is anxious about her reading speed, and how she and the book appear when in public together. If the book is too old, the woman is worn out by the tasks of care-taking.

"One young woman in the study," Hepatica noted, "collected old and rare volumes. Tender joints, slightly unhinged, spine a mess, oxidation spots all over - and you should have seen the books!”

Only thirty-two years old when she began collecting old and rare books, within two years she had aged fifty.

“Modern advances in book conservation and restoration have dramatically increased the life-spans of books,” Hepatica added, “and they are lasting far longer than they were ever expected to. As a result of this constant care and attention to their older books, female book collectors may pay a price steeper than when they bought at the old Heritage Book Shop before it closed. Who cares for the caregiver?”

The financial security that a very old and rare book can often provide to a younger woman is obviated by the evidence that the female collector may not make it though the book’s probate hearing before they grave-dive. So much for footloose and fancy-free when the old book finally croaks and a newer edition enters the boudoir.

Many if not most old books require refurbishing, recasing, rebacking, and all manner of cosmetic and internal surgeries during their lifetime on Planet Book.

Hepatica referred to the many advertisements lately seen for book life-extension. “They’ve got polishes with vitamins and minerals, mega anti-oxidants, HGH, and testosterone to keep the leather lithe, athletic, and firm, and some kind of God knows what to keep the pages perky. It’s a racket.”

Men, unsurprisingly, are doing quite well with younger books. Men over fifty who read modern chick-lit become, for all intents and purposes, immortal. Older books, another story altogether.

“You know how they say that a dog and its owner will soon grow to look alike?” Hepatica said. “Same with old books and collectors. Choose your books wisely.”

Hepatica provided a solution to the May-December relationship with books.

“Buy an old and rare first edition. Handle it, adore it - and get it on the shelf, pronto, before you fall and can't get up. You want to read it? By a new paperback edition.”

But not one published seven to nine years after your birthday. Otherwise, you’ll age before your very reading-strained eyes and drop dead of exhaustion before you can say, Gutenburg. New books are killers. Older books? An antiquarian thirty-two year old woman reading a 200 year old book opened on an easel fixed to her walker as she shuffles to the bookshelf is not a pretty sight.


  1. I have to disagree with the findings in the study. Old men and old books both make me feel happy and young.

  2. Now they do. Just wait. Soon, you'll feel sad and ancient as the old books descend into dementia and incontinence, erotic appeal is repealed and you're left with a drooling text with no interest in sex. Caveat collector!

  3. I like it, death by new publication. I need to run to the store and get some 2010 publications for some gals I know. Or should I say, knew?

  4. What a ridiculous study. Think I'll turn off the computer and go read a book....

  5. i want to read books that are not published yet! so get busy. jkg


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