I turned 50 last year. To mark the occasion, I wrote a post about books with strong female characters over 50, stories about empowered women who were having a great second act in their lives, and other books with strong female characters. Now that I’m about to turn 51, I’m in the mood for even more books about older women. So I’ve made a new reading list.
You’ll find a murderer, a few scientists, a space traveler, a detective, a famous actress, and many other people on this list. There are also homemakers, grandmothers, and retirees on this list. These stories are about women who are between the ages of 50 and 110. They have a wide range of experiences, personalities, and genres. All of these books have older women as important characters. Enjoy!
Descriptions that are in quotes are from publisher descriptions that have been shortened when necessary.
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Dr. Marina Singh goes on an unknown journey into the insect-infested Amazon. Dr. Annick Swenson, her former mentor, has gone missing while working on a valuable new drug. She will have to face her own memories of tragedy and sacrifice as she journeys into the unforgiving heart of darkness to look for her friend and mentor.
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
She remembers each of her two husbands, as well as all of the places and community connections that were threatened by twentieth-century technologies. All of family farming is in danger. But when her grandson, Virgil, comes home to work on the farm, she has hope again.
The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
During the zombie apocalypse, this book is a gripping, well-written story with a lot of heart. It has three strong female characters, including the older Dr. Caldwell, a scientist with a lot of questions about his motives. “The Girl with All the Gifts is a ground-breaking thriller that will keep you on your toes from start to finish.”
The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
Roseanne McNulty is nearing her 100th birthday, and the hospital where she’s spent most of her adult life is getting ready to close. By retelling Roseanne’s story through the haze of memory, it becomes an alternative, hidden history of Ireland’s changes and the story of a life marked by love and passion and hope.
Family Trust by Kathy Wang
Stanley Huang is a father, husband, and ex-husband. He was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. They have to deal with a lot of unexpected things as Stanley’s death nears. These things make the Huangs think about what they value most. A story about cultural expectations, career goals, and how we connect with the people who know us best.
The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende
“Alma is coming to the end of a long and interesting life.” There are two people in the world: an old woman and her grandson, Seth. Irina Bazili is a care worker who’s trying to come to terms with her own troubled past. As Irina and Seth become friends, they become intrigued by a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma. They learn that Alma has a secret passion that has lasted for nearly 70 years.
Inheritance from Mother by Minae Mizumura
“Mitsuki Katsura, a Japanese woman in her 50s, is a French-language teacher at a private school in Tokyo.” Her husband is having sex with a woman who is much younger than him. In addition, Mitsuki has to deal with her sick mother, who is at least eighty years old. An important book called “Inheritance from Mother” talks a lot about mother-daughter relationships, marriage, old age, and the strength of women.
The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian
“The Robinas have been together for more than 60 years and have had a great time together.” John and Ella drive their ’78 Leisure Seeker RV along the forgotten roads of Route 66 in search of a past they can’t remember. Ella, on the other hand, wants to show that, when it comes to life, you can go back for seconds even when everyone says you can’t.
Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
Her ability to sense the bad in people helps Miss Marple on her first case. She’s led to the local vicarage, where there was a crime scene.” Everybody in the town doesn’t like Col. Protheroe. He has been shot in the head. Nobody could hear the shot. There aren’t any leads. Even so, “everyone around the vicarage seems to have a reason to want the colonel killed.”
The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan
Ruth Young and her mother, LuLing, have always had a rocky relationship. This time, before she forgets everything, LuLing gives Ruth some of her writings. They show a side of LuLing that Ruth has never seen before. Ruth’s mother’s past will change the way she thinks about family, love, and forgiveness for the rest of her life.
This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison
“Evison has written a big-hearted book with a lovable heroine at its heart.” He paints a heartbreaking picture of a postmodern woman with a lot of warmth, humanity, and humor. Nothing is what it appears to be in this story of acceptance, rethinking, forgiveness, and healing. “Nothing is what it appears to be in this story of acceptance, rethinking, forgiveness, and healing.”
The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
They spent the summer on a small island in the Gulf of Finland with her six-year-old granddaughter. Eventually, the two learn to accept each other’s fears, whims, and desires for independence, and a fierce but understated love grows between them. This love encompasses the island itself, with its mossy rocks, windswept firs, and unpredictable seas.
Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon
It has been Ofelia’s home for the last 40 years in Colony 3245.12. In this place, she fully expects to spend the rest of her life–until the Sims Bancorp Company’s business changes and Colony 3245.12 has to be shut down. Ofelia, on the other hand, is looking forward to spending the last years of her life in blissful solitude, in the place she has no plans to leave. This means there is only one person living there.
The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
She was born in 1905. Daisy Stone Goodwill drifts between being a child, a wife, a widowed mother and then an old woman. She does this for a long time. A lot of things happen in her life, but she doesn’t feel like she can do anything about them because she is so busy. “She listens, she watches, and through the power of her imagination, she becomes a witness to her own life: her birth and her death, as well as the connections she finds between them.”
An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine
People who read this amazing book about a reclusive woman’s late-life crisis can follow Aaliya’s mind as it wanders through images of both the past and the present Beirut. There are thought-provoking thoughts about literature and art. But they are also mixed in with memories of the Lebanon Civil War and Aaliya’s troubled past. It’s hard for Aaliya to deal with her aging body and sudden emotional surges, but as she tries, she’s hit with an unthinkable disaster that threatens to destroy the rest of her life.
Emily, Alone by Stewart O’Nan
“Emily Maxwell dreams of seeing her grandchildren while she is sad about the change in her quiet Pittsburgh neighborhood.” In the middle of their favorite breakfast buffet, Emily’s only friend and sister-in-law faints. Emily’s life changes in surprising ways. As she struggles with being on her own, she finds a hidden strength and realizes that life is always full of new opportunities.
The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg
“This is a heartfelt book about three people who find their way back from the loss and loneliness they have been through.” He meets Maddy at the cemetery where he goes every day for lunch to have imaginary talks with his dead wife. With Arthur’s nosy neighbor Lucille, they form a loving and unconventional family, which proves that life’s most precious moments are sweeter when shared with someone else.
Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen
“Nora used to dream about going to New York City, and now her clannish dead-end block has become a safe harbor, a peaceful village in the middle of the city’s chaos.” Then one morning, she comes back from her run to find that a terrible event has shaken the neighborhood, and things start to fall apart: on the block, at work, and even in her marriage.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
“Alice Howland, who is married with three grown children, is a well-known Harvard professor at the top of her game when she starts forgetting things.” Before long, her confusion and memory start to go. She is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, which is very bad. It’s hard for Alice to keep her lifestyle and live in the moment, even though her sense of self is being taken away.
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
One of Clarissa’s June days: “A day filled with small errands and punctuated by the suicide of someone she hasn’t even met. It’s all part of her preparations for a party.” She wrote Mrs. Dalloway in 1925, and it was her first complete depiction of the “luminous envelope” of consciousness: the mind’s inside as it plays over the bright surface and dark depths of reality.
Aunty Lee’s Delights by Ovidia Yu
After she lost her husband, Rosie Lee could have easily become a lazy rich woman who spends her time playing mah-jongg and shopping for high-end goods. Instead, she worked hard to build a food empire from her restaurant. A body is found in one of Singapore’s beautiful tourist areas. When one of her wealthy guests doesn’t show up at a dinner party, Aunty Lee thinks the two may be linked.
Celine by Peter Heller
The story of Celine, an elegant, aristocratic private eye who specializes in reuniting families, and how she tries to make up for a loss in her own past. ” Celine lives in a jewel box of an apartment at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. She has made a career out of finding missing people, and she has a better track record than the FBI.