Reading has long been a favorite pastime for people young and old, alike. There’s something magical about jumping into a book that takes you to a place far away from the monotony of your daily life, while still sitting in the comfort of your own home. Reading has the ability to transport you to a different time or place, introduce you to new people and cultures, and immerse you in a world far different from your own. Reading can allow you to escape from your own worries and problems, tossing you into an adventure you otherwise may not experience. While entertainment ranks high on the list of reasons people love to read, there are many other extraordinary benefits that come from opening up a good book.
As you age, it’s natural to experience some cognitive decline along the way. Brain stimulating activities can help to slow this decline, keeping your mind sharp! Reading is an excellent way to exercise the brain while helping to improve your memory, cognition, attention span, and concentration.
Increases Your Knowledge
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving” — Albert Einstein. This, coupled with the adage of “never stop learning”, reinforces the need to keep moving forward in our knowledge. Reading a variety of literature exposes us to all types of new things, places, people, ideas, theories, time periods, lifestyles, etc. There’s an infinite amount of information we can gather from the pages of a book. It can also help us expand our vocabulary, as well as our awareness of others, by making us more empathetic.
Believe it or not, reading has been proven to help reduce stress and anxiety. It helps to calm your mind by allowing you to “escape” your own world and the daily routines in which you’re constantly engaged. Sitting down to read each day can help lower your heart rate and reduce your blood pressure.
Building reading time into your evening routine can yield more quality sleep at night. Try turning off your screen and picking up a book instead. As mentioned above, reading can help relax your mind and body, signaling that it’s time to sleep.
With a better understanding of the many benefits that come from reading, why not make it part of your routine… and spread the joy! Have you ever considered being part of a book club, or perhaps even starting one? You can reap the rewards that a book has to offer, while making it a social occasion. Interacting with others is essential for aging gracefully. If a book club sparks your interest, but you don’t know how to get started, here are some wonderful suggestions for you.
First and foremost, every club must have members, so decide who you would like to include on your guest list. If you center your club around a specific theme, perhaps this will help you to narrow down those who share similar interests. Though a theme is not necessary, some people like to stick to certain genres like mysteries, travel, biographies, classic literature, etc.
Location & Time
Once your group is decided upon, you need to pick a location where you will gather together to discuss your book. There are many public places that may allow you to reserve a room at no cost; such places include the library, senior/community center, health clubs, etc. You may also consider meeting at a restaurant where you can enjoy a nice meal in addition to your book discussion. If you’d rather a private setting, you can take turns rotating among one another’s homes or senior living facilities. If you choose a private location, you may want to give special consideration to the size of your group.
Decide whether mornings, afternoons, or evenings work best for the majority. This may also help to determine the location; for example, mornings may work best over coffee or tea at a local coffee house. The time and location may vary with each meeting, or you may choose to be more consistent with these factors.
How often will you meet to discuss what you’ve read? Will you discuss a few chapters at a time or only once the book is completed? If the latter, decide if you’d like to read a book per month, or more frequently than that. Remember this is supposed to be fun and relaxing, so don’t pressure yourself with timeframes and deadlines.
What type of material will you read? Who will choose the book? These are questions that should be discussed and agreed upon as a group. Consider allowing each member of the group to “host” or “moderate”. This provides variety and keeps everyone equally engaged. When it is your turn to host, you can select the book and lead the discussion.
Now that we’ve covered all the “who’s, what’s, when’s, where’s, and why’s” of book club, all that’s left is getting started! HAPPY READING!