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The summer of 2020 was one for the books at the USC Leonard Davis School as faculty, students and alumni came together over Zoom for a series of book club discussions exploring titles related to longevity and pandemics.

“The book club brought groups together who may not normally interact and are quite different in the way they approach the topic of aging,” says Assistant Professor Andrei Irimia, who moderated one of the sessions. “I thought it was a great way to have scientists like myself read and talk about more social human aspects of aging.”

And, the neuroscientist adds, books are good for our brains.

“The book art form is very profound,” he says. “It makes you think. It makes you imagine things in your head. And there are lots of studies showing improvement in cognition from reading and exercising your own imagination.”

Missed the meetings? Catch up on what the book club read over the summer:

The Plague by Albert Camus (1947)
“A gripping tale of human unrelieved horror, of survival and resilience… profoundly relevant to our times.” — from the publisher

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande (2014)
“[B]estselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.” — from the publisher

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (2012)
“[A] thoughtful exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others.” — from the publisher

Want more? Check out these gerontology genre picks:

All Men Are Mortal by Simone de Beauvoir (1946)
“A good book about the absurdity of humanity’s wish of immortality.” — Assistant Professor Andrei Irimia

Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival by Velma Wallis (1993)
“[A]n octogenarian version of Thelma and Louise. Triumphant.” — Kirkus Reviews

Still Alice by Lisa Genova (2007)
“A compelling debut novel about a 50-year old woman’s sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer’s disease.” — from the publisher

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (2016)
A multigenerational saga “about race, history, ancestry, love and time.” — from the publisher

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (1985)
“An exceptional half-century story of unrequited love.” — from the publisher

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2010)
“A must-read for people interested in modern biomedical research.” — Assistant Professor Bérénice Benayoun

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