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The Roundtable

Lessons From A Year Among The Oldest Old

Book Cover "Happiness Is A Choice You Make"

John Leland is a reporter at The New York Times, where he wrote a yearlong series that became the basis for the book "Happiness Is a Choice You Make," and the author of two previous books, "Hip: The History" and "Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of “On the Road” (They’re Not What You Think)." Before joining the Times, he was a senior editor at Newsweek, editor in chief of Details, a reporter at Newsday, and a writer and editor at Spin magazine.

In 2015, when the award-winning journalist John Leland set out on behalf of The New York Times to meet members of America’s fastest-growing age group, he anticipated learning of challenges, of loneliness, and of the deterioration of body, mind, and quality of life. But the elders he met took him in an entirely different direction.

Despite disparate backgrounds and circumstances, they each lived with a surprising lightness and contentment. The reality Leland encountered upended contemporary notions of aging, revealing the late stages of life as unexpectedly rich and the elderly as incomparably wise.

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