20 Must-Read Books with Senior Protagonists Part 1

Reading is one of the most popular hobbies for seniors. But there is the question of what to read to have the most enjoyable experience with books.
Typically, it feels easier to relate to characters around your age. That is why some seniors might prefer reading books where the protagonist, the main character surrounded by the events, is a senior too. And while we have a large share of books and series with teenage protagonists, there are some excellent books about seniors and their stories.
To make the search easier for you, we have gathered a list of the best 20 novels where the main character is a senior just like you, as a reminder that it is never late for adventures and stories.
So with no further ado, let’s start reading books with senior protagonists, each one better than before. And for your convenience, we have mentioned the main genres of each book, in case you are into reading books from a particular genre.

This is Your Life, Harriet Chance

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!

Author: Jonathan Evison

Genre: Family, Women

What would you do if you realized your whole life did not really belong to you?

Now a widow, seventy-nine-year-old Harriet Chance sets sail for Alaska as she recalls the chaotic life she has led. And on this cruise, she faces the fact that she has pretended to be something she’s not for the last sixty years. 

Once again, this is a book moving between the past and the present with an enjoyable tone. 

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My Last Name

Author: Eric M. Schumacher

Genre: Fiction

Lottie Barnes, ninety-five years old, lives in a care facility. As she tries to overcome the physical restrictions of old age, and cognitive decline resulting from dementia, she shows us her unique perspective on life, showing the readers what it’s like to live with dementia.   

She might be having difficulty comprehending her present surroundings, but she remembers her past, and we get to learn her story and experiences. 

With this book, Eric Schumcher tries to get the message across that every individual has a story, each story unique and unrepeatable. 

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Three Things About Elsie

Author: Joanna Cannon

Genre: Mystery

Florence is 84 years old and living in the Cherry Tree Home for seniors. One day, she falls on the ground, and while lying on the floor waiting for someone to find her, she finds the time to reflect on her past. 

She takes us to the time when she and her best friend, Elsie, lived in this care facility and even before that. 

When a new resident moves into the Cherry Tree home, Florence runs to Elsie for guidance because there’s something very scary about this new resident: He looks exactly like the man that died sixty years ago!

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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

Author: Helen Simonson

Genre: Romance           

The retired Major Earnest Pettigrew can capture the reader’s heart from the very first pages. He is an honourable man leading a quiet life, valuing duty and manners above everything else. 

Unfortunately, our hero’s brother loses his life, and this sad event will be the start of a newborn friendship, or maybe something more. Mrs. Jasmina Ali has lost her spouse, just like our Major. 

Can two people from very different backgrounds and cultures fall in love and prove to everyone that they are right for each other?

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Elizabeth Is Missing

Author: Emma Healey

Genre: Mystery, Crime

Our next book is the perfect combination of mysterious and heartbreaking. Maud is fighting old age, and she is losing her memory in the battle. Alongside the ability to carry out daily activities, her memories are slipping away one by one, except for the memories of her best friend, Elizabeth. 

Maud believes that Elizabeth is in danger. And when no one believes her, Maud decides to take the matter into her own hands. But things get complicated when the clues she finds lead her to a horrifying event that happened more than fifty years ago when her sister disappeared. 

Can Maud find the secret behind a fifty-year-old case? And if she solves that mystery, will she be able to find her best friend?

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Two Old Women

Two Old Women: An Alaskan Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival

Author: Velma Wallis

Genre: Historical Fiction, Adventure

Velma Wallis decided to write a mythological Athabascan Indian tale, orally passed down for generations, and we thank her for it. 

In this legend, a tribe leaves to save itself from a heavy winter and famine, leaving behind two women. And although these women were known for doing nothing and complaining, now they must learn how to survive on their own because no one will come for them.

A story of betrayal, friendship, and forgiveness with two heroines who prove age is just a number and doesn’t make you weak by definition. 

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Murder at the Vicarage (Miss Marple #1)

Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Mystery
Now it’s time for our favourite detective to shine. This is the first book in the Miss Marple series, marking this character as a bright mature female detective loved by many fans.
In the wake of Colonel Protheroe’s murder in a clergyman’s study, Miss Marple sets off to investigate the suspects and find the murderer.
As a fan of mystery looking for an intriguing plot, interesting characters and an exciting setting, you might like the first novel of Agatha Christie’s famous crime series, and possibly the novels and stories to follow this one.

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Until Tomorrow Mr. Marsworth

Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth

Author: Sheila O’Connor

Genre: Historical Fiction, War

Next up on the list is a heartwarming story of a friendship between 11-year-old Reenie Kelly and the town recluse senior, Mr. Marsworth. 

At first, Mr. Marsworth is unwilling to open his house to Reenie, who has just moved to live with her brothers at his grandparents’ house. But when Reenie starts leaving him letters, the two start to become the sweetest pen pals. 

In one of her letters, Reenie tells her friend how his brother Billy might have to leave and fight in the Vietnam war. And for reasons more than just simple anti-war sentiments, Mr. Marsworth decides to do his best to help Reenie keep his brother at home. 

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A Man Called Ove

Author: Fredrik Backman
Genre: Fiction, Humour

And now let’s talk about one of the most popular novels for seniors.
Ove is grumpy, yet it takes a lot not to love this grumpy old man. Our senior in this book has a strict routine and rules he follows carefully every day, and maybe he loses his temper quickly. But he can’t be as bitter as everyone thinks of him, or else why would this trouble-making new family that moves into his neighbourhood become interested in him?
Maybe they realize, just like we will reading the novel, that behind every grumpy, strict face Ove makes is a story that might break everyone’s heart.

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Remnant Population

Ofelia has lived in Colony 3245.12 for more than forty years. And after leading a full life where she has loved and lost people, she expects to spend her final years in peace on this planet. 

But things don’t go as planned with the new announcement: Every resident should leave Colony 3245.12 behind, continuing their lives somewhere new and unfamiliar. 

Not Ofelia! She decides to stay behind and enjoy life in solitude, having the planet all to herself. At least, that’s what she thought at first. 

Author: Elizabeth Moon

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

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These were ten great books we recommend reading. If you found nothing new to add to your to-read list or feel like the genres of these books are not your cup of tea, we have ten more books for you in 20 Must-Read Books with Senior Protagonists Part 2. So don’t forget to check the second part out!

Final Words

The books mentioned above can easily make a great time for you, especially if you don’t know what to do in retirement. Surely, there are other books with senior protagonists that have a lot to say. This list is merely a great place to start.
Have a nice read!


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2 years ago

I am sixty-three years old, and I recently read Invisible by Lorena McCourtney, and I enjoyed the book. My husband picked up this book and did not want to put it down. The idea behind the story is excellent. I enjoyed all the characters in this book. I liked the book, even though it was hard to follow. I also suggested this book to my friends and loved ones to read it.