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RealAge: Are You As Young As You Can Be?
by Michael F. Roizen M.D.
(Cliff Street Books, 1999)

The best compilation of scientific evidence and statistics about what exactly affects aging, for better and for worse.

Dr. Bob Arnot's Guide to Turning Back the Clock
by Robert Arnot
(Little Brown & Co., 1996)

An exuberant, inspiring proponent of his own prescriptions, Arnot focuses largely on nutrition and fitness, but also offers a wealth of well-documented information and highly specific recommendations about diet and exercise.

Life Extension
by Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw
(Warner Books, 1981)

The book that got it all started in 1981, long before most people believed extending life was possible. Pearson and Shaw are zealous missionaries, and this 858-page treatise offers up every imaginable approach — and every far-flung supportive scientific study — to age reversal. It's dull reading, but a remarkable number of the suggestions that they make have found increasingly broad scientific support in recent years.

Live Now, Age Later: Proven Ways to Slow Down the Clock
by Isadore Rosenfeld M.D.
(Warner Books, 2000)

Predictable, ponderous, and prosaic advice — none of it dangerous, none of it surprising.

Body for Life: 12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Strength
by Bill Phillips
(HarperCollins, 1999)

The Cliff Notes version to better health and more youthfulness from the editor in chief of Muscle Media magazine. Simplistic and thin, it nonetheless offers several intriguing suggestions. The suggested diet is austere, for example, but includes permission to eat anything you want one day each week. ("No one wants to play a game he or she can't," Phillips writes. "I can't describe the difference this makes in a person's ability to stay with the Program.") The book also includes an interval-based cardiovascular and weight-training program that maps out an intense daily workout with a very limited time commitment.

Time of Our Lives: The Science of Human Aging
by Tom Kirkwood
(Oxford University Press, 2000)

A gerontologist at the University of Manchester renowned for his theories about why we age, the self-satisfied Kirkwood offers moderately lively scientific information and very dull advice. His most appealing suggestion: "Eat what you enjoy — to do otherwise might make you live longer, but for what purpose? — but train yourself to eat fewer calories, if you can." Most discouraging revelation: "I find this hard because I like food enormously."

A Means to an End: The Biological Basis of Aging and Death
by William R. Clark
(Oxford University Press, 1999)

Serious stuff, but not exactly an upbeat title or an easy read. A former professor of immunology at UCLA, Clark offers a largely scientific look at the nature and causes of aging. On the life-extending value of a calorie-restricted diet, he is intriguing: "It may be that what the data are telling us is not that calorie restriction can make us healthier and live longer, but that over-eating and minimal exercise can decrease our quality of life and make us die sooner."

The Force of Character and the Lasting Life
by James Hillman
(Ballantine Books, 2000)

Hillman is pretentious, sententious, and irritating, but his attempt to find meaning in aging is honorable and occasionally inspiring. Where most other writers recoil from aging, Hillman envisions it as an opportunity to discover and express our higher character.

A version of this article appeared in the November 1999 issue of Fast Company magazine.