Numerous studies show how reading can benefit our well-being. It exercises our brains to help improve concentration and memory, reduce stress, teach us about others’ perspectives, and increase our empathy. Reading can also take us to faraway lands and times without ever leaving our chairs.
And if you are part of one of the many social book clubs at Willow Valley Communities, you also get to gather regularly with friends and have thoughtful discussions about characters, themes, style, and plot lines.
Resident Trish Macvaugh facilitates the Next Chapter Book Club at Willow Valley Communities. “Reading has been my passion since I was a little girl curled up next to my grandmother as she wrapped me in Longfellow’s Hiawatha. It was no surprise, then, that I pursued a doctorate in English and taught literature for 48 years, and when I moved to Willow Valley Communities, working in our library and organizing a book club was a natural.”
The group meets monthly, with Trish and members Carole Calhoun, Carol Sandt, Carole Repici, Bettyann Hall, Judi Schiff, Jo Burnett, Sandy Saul, and Candace O’Donnell all taking turns choosing a book and leading the discussion. Subjects and genres may vary extensively, but when the group gets together, there is always laughter and smiles throughout the lively discussions.
Other members of the group agree with Trish that reading enhances their well-being. Bettyann Hall says that reading “takes me out of myself and my own circumstances and immerses me in the lives of the characters in the book. Identifying with those characters, empathizing with their problems, and sharing in their hopes and dreams broadens my perspective and enriches my life.”
Carole Repici agrees. “Throughout my life, reading has been a wonderful escape. Reading a book can always take me miles and/or millennia away. I don’t know how I would live without books,” she adds thoughtfully. “I’m so very grateful for the library and the book club right here at Willow Valley Communities.”
Trish sums up how truly beneficial reading has been for her well-being, as well as for that of the rest of the group. “It has been a joy sharing and discussing good books with other book lovers who have become cherished friends. Even during a pandemic, I could travel the world and meet fascinating people. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that reading has kept me sane.”