The West Sides Stories book club has been meeting since 1994, and its members (all women living in west-end Toronto) have discovered the sometimes surprising benefits of joining a book club.
Some of their members even turned their love of literature into a charitable organization – Read for the Cure – that raises funds to fight cancer.
How do you benefit from a book club? We asked the West Side Stories gang, and here’s how they responded.
“It provides an opportunity to be alternately silly and serious. I’m exposed to reading material that I might otherwise pass over, and I get to learn about others’ experiences and how they have opted to look at the world as a result of those experiences. We generally park our worries at the doorstep at meetings and it becomes a refuge from whatever is a stressor in the rest of my life.” – Pat Butler
2. Intellectual stimulation
“The book club keeps me in touch with the world. It’s easy to get so busy in our own lives that our personal learning stagnates. The club makes sure I am aware of current books and authors. By reading about life in different cultures and societies, my understanding of the world has been enormously enhanced. I am then forced to view myself and my lifestyle with new eyes.” – Sheila Malloch
3. New books and new people
“I’ve benefitted in so many ways from being a member of this book club, both intellectually and personally. One of the unexpected delights is that I’m exposed to types of literature and life viewpoints I wouldn’t have encountered otherwise. It has helped me grow.” – Sara Street
4. A break from everyday life
“Books and book clubs can pull you up out of your world when life gets tough. Joining a book club is both an escape and a journey into something rich and wonderful, sometimes when you really need it. It’s a safe place to exchange and challenge ideas.” – Christine Biggar
5. The freedom to be honest
“The book club has given me the freedom to say I don’t like a book. I don’t always even finish what I’m reading! It’s been a strange pleasure to read a book and have the confidence to say I don’t like it and then talk about why that is. When someone else talks about a specific aspect of the book they appreciated, it helps me understand what I didn’t like.” – Martha McGloin
“Friendship, caring, laughs, honesty, the opportunity to share ideas and thoughts without feeling foolish or inhibited. The book club allows me to share an evening with very bright, knowledgeable and articulate women.” – Elizabeth Gordon
“It’s a cherished opportunity for self-expression. A chance to engage both the head and the heart with women I trust and admire. It’s an evening like no other in my life – one that gives me intellectual stimulation, emotional sustenance and great laughs. Plus food and wine!” – Emily Eayrs Babiak
8. Lifetime connections
“When I first joined the group, I didn’t realize that the bond of friendship would develop that way that it has over the years.” – Patty Staite
9. Spending time with other women
“West Side Stories provides me the opportunity to connect with other women that I don’t get anywhere else. It’s the contemporary version of my mom’s bridge club.”
– Lynn O’Neill
10. A welcome place for strangers
“At my first book club meeting, I didn’t know a single person in the room. Fifteen years later, I have seen their children grow up, and parents (and in some cases, spouses) pass away. I know these women will be by my side, no matter what life brings me.” – Beth Pollock
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source: Senior Living by Doug O’Neill
Categories: Senior Health