Health & Medical Lifestyle

10 Reasons Why Seniors Should Join A Book Club (Expert Tips)

Senior Book Club

Seniors looking to keep busy and meet interesting people often consider joining book clubs. But what are the advantages of joining a book club for seniors?

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The benefits of joining a book club are endless, especially for seniors. Seniors should join a book club to:

  • Socialize
  • Sharpen the mind
  • Try new books
  • Learn something new
  • Gain health benefits
  • Maintain communication skills
  • Relieve boredom
  • Escape stress
  • Connect with the World
  • Renew interest in life

What are the Benefits of a Book Club?

The benefits of joining a book club extend far beyond having something to do for the day. These 10 reasons prove that book clubs can improve overall life enjoyment.

Opportunity to Socialize with Other Readers

As people age, it’s not uncommon for their social circle to shrink. This can be due to no longer going out to work every day, or because of limited mobility or transportation issues.

A sense of social isolation can easily set in, leading to loneliness and depression. Loneliness has been linked to higher rates of:

  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Dementia.

Book clubs are terrific places to make new friends. Being able to focus on discussing the same book can make conversation easier when meeting new people.

Members share some of the same interests, such as reading, but may come from all walks of life. This gives you the chance to meet people that you otherwise might not have a chance to.

Keep the Mind Sharp by Reading Regularly

Reading has been shown to slow down cognitive decline, slowing the effects of conditions like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Many of us have the intention of reading regularly, but find ourselves putting it off in favor of less mentally stimulating activities like watching tv.

A book club can help you remember to make time for regular reading since you won’t want to show up to the club not having read the book being discussed. Having a sense of obligation is just what some people need in order to stick to a regular reading habit.

Try New Books

Book clubs can provide a chance for members to discover new authors or genres that they otherwise might not have tried.

Sometimes we surprise ourselves when we try a book that we initially aren’t interested in, only to discover that it’s actually very good.

It can be fun to get out of your comfort zone sometimes by reading something a little different than usual.

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Learn Something New

Discussion helps people process their knowledge more deeply, rather than just understanding it on a surface level.

You’d be surprised at how much more thoroughly you can understand a book simply by discussing it with others.

Hearing others’ opinions might cement your own ideas, or they might help you to look at things in another light entirely.

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Reading and Socializing Have Proven Health Benefits

Book clubs combine two things that are known to have proven health benefits: reading and socializing.

Both reading and socializing are proven to:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce insomnia
  • Lessen depression
  • Lower stress
  • Strengthen brain function
  • Increased relaxation

Doing both together in a setting such as a book club can improve not only your health but your quality of life overall.

Improve Your Communication Skills

Having to regularly formulate and express opinions about the books you’re reading can help improve and maintain communication skills. This is especially true for seniors who don’t have the option to socialize often.

Book clubs promote honest but respectful discussions between people who may not share the same views. This can help with expressing views in a logical, non-emotional way.

Because book clubs are small groups, speaking in meetings can also ease the fear of public speaking in an open, encouraging environment.

As we age, sometimes we can lose confidence in our ability to communicate effectively. The regular book discussions provided by book clubs are wonderful ways to combat this.

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Relieve Boredom with a Book Club

It’s not uncommon for retirees to return to work, with about a third returning to the workforce at least part-time after retiring.

For many seniors, the hardest part of retirement and aging is the boredom that comes along with having reduced responsibilities and sometimes reduced transportation options.

Boredom increases anxiety and depression and has been linked to lower quality of life and a shorter lifespan.

It’s normal to want to get out of the same old routine and find new ways to occupy time, and book clubs provide the chance to do that.

The book club meetings themselves provide a chance to get out of the house and interact with others. But in between meetings, you’ll be kept busy by reading the assigned book to get ready for the next meeting.

Reading is not only a way to pass time, but it’s a perfect way to relax and escape everyday life.

Escape the Day-to-Day

Along the lines of reducing boredom, book clubs allow you to escape from the stresses of everyday life.

Many seniors deal with:

  • Financial stress
  • Reduced independence
  • Lack of social support
  • Medical ailments
  • Aches and pains

Reading can offer temporary relief from worrying about these things. If your mind is absorbed in a good book, it’s a lot harder to focus on the things in your life that aren’t going well.

Book club meetings allow you to get out and see new faces other than the ones you see every day, which can provide a fresh alternative to family or caretakers that you see all the time.

Connect with the World

Like we mentioned earlier, book clubs can introduce you to people that you otherwise might not interact with. This can be a wonderful way to meet people from other cultures and generations while learning about their views of the world.

Associating with people different than yourself can foster a sense of connection and empathy which will in turn help you feel connected to the world.

The more you’re exposed to the views of others, the more your perspective will widen. And others will benefit from hearing your views and learning from your experience.

Being able to share the wisdom you’ve earned over the years can be a valuable contribution to society, which can instill a healthy feeling of pride.

Many seniors feel that the modern world is leaving them behind. The books chosen in book clubs are often contemporary books, which can help you stay connected to the quickly changing world.

Sparks Interest in Life

We’ve mentioned a few times that book clubs can improve quality of life and lessen things like depression and anxiety.

This can end up giving you a greater sense of energy and interest in life generally, not only in regards to the book club.

Reading regularly and interacting with others from all walks of life often has the effect of allowing people to feel more creative and curious, discovering new hobbies, and rediscovering old ones.

Join a book club and you might even be tempted to start writing books of your own!

What Should I Expect From a Book Club?

In short, book clubs are regular meetings where people discuss a book that they’ve all read.

Different clubs might each have their own ways of doing things, but the general concept remains the same.

What Will Be Read?

Many book clubs focus on books relating to one topic or theme, like:

  • A specific genre (romance, thrillers, sci-fi)
  • A Specific author or series
  • Classics
  • Explorations of identity (race, gender, etc.)

Some clubs have an agreed-upon reading list, but others decide what to read as a group. Some groups have a different person nominate a book each time.

How Often Do Book Clubs Meet?

Most book clubs meet once a month, but some meet more or less often, depending on the length of the books they usually read.

Book clubs can meet during the day or in the evening, so be sure to pick one that works with your schedule.

Some clubs take breaks during the summer or during the winter holiday season, but others continue year-round.

Where Do They Meet?

Smaller book clubs that are started by people who already know each other often meet in private homes, sometimes rotating to a different home each meeting.

Large book clubs and those run by people who don’t necessarily know each other usually meet in:

  • Coffee shops
  • Bookstores
  • Libraries
  • Senior centers

Nowadays, in-person meetings aren’t the only way to take part in a book club. There are many online book clubs available too, for those with internet access.

Who Moderates the Meetings?

The book club moderator is someone who keeps the conversation flowing. This person is also in charge of keeping the conversation respectful and on topic.

Depending on the club, there are usually discussion guidelines about communicating respectfully and making sure everyone has the chance to speak.

Some clubs have a set moderator, while others share the responsibility, rotating the role for each meeting.

Moderators will often have a list of prepared questions and talking points to help keep the conversation flowing and on track.

What is the Cost?

It’s usually free to join a book club, but possible expenses can include:

  • The book: check your library or used bookstore for inexpensive or free options
  • Coffee: clubs that meet at coffee shops are encouraged to buy something from the venue
  • Refreshments: it’s a nice gesture to bring a snack or some drinks to meetings that are hosted in people’s homes
  • Transportation: to and from the meetings

With everything considered, book clubs are one of the more inexpensive hobbies that someone can have.

How Long Should a Book Club Meeting Last?

Book club meetings can vary in length, depending mostly on how large the club is, and how in-depth the conversation is.

A general rule of thumb is to allow for about 2 hours for a book club meeting.

Some might be as short as an hour and a half, and others might pass the 2-hour mark, but most will be in that area.

Tips for Book Club Success

Follow these 4 suggestions, and your first book club experience is sure to be a success.

Read the Book

It’s hard to discuss a book that you haven’t read, so do your best to carve out time in your schedule to carefully read the assigned book.

Start early and try to read a little each day, so if you find the book difficult, you’ll be able to take your time and really absorb it.

Starting early will also help you finish even if your schedule gets unexpectedly busy.

If, for some reason, you’re not able to finish the book, be honest with your club. Don’t try to pretend you’ve done the reading if you haven’t.

Practice Talking Points

If you’re nervous about your first book club meeting, or just nervous about talking in front of people generally, you’re not alone. It’s perfectly normal to be nervous, but planning ahead can help.

Try writing down things that catch your attention while you’re reading the book, to help you remember them later during the meeting.

Many books also have a list of questions in the back of the book just to help with book clubs. Sometimes, the publisher’s website will also have discussion suggestions.

And remember, you’re not the only one worried about what they’re going to say. Most likely, there will be other people who are in the same boat.

Be Respectful of Books and People

One of the most important things to remember in book club meetings is to be respectful of both the people in the group and the book that was chosen.

People join book clubs for a chance to have pleasant conversations with people, not to argue or complain.

Of course, it’s fine to have opinions, but before sharing them, make sure they’re both respectful and useful for the group conversation.

Plan Ahead to Avoid Stress

Be sure to schedule yourself enough time to get to the book club meeting on time, or a little early if possible. This way you won’t interrupt the discussion by arriving late or arrive feeling rushed and flustered.

If you don’t drive or want to save on gas, see about carpooling with other club members. This can be a great way to build friendships, too.

Alternate Types of Book Clubs

If you like the idea of a book club, but it just doesn’t seem like the right fit for you, think about one of these alternatives instead.

Short Story Clubs

If reading long novels doesn’t appeal to you, you might consider joining a short story club instead. The idea of short story clubs is the same as regular book clubs, but the focus is on shorter works.

Some short story clubs meet once a week or every other week, but others only meet once a month. These are perfect for those who can’t make it to more frequent meetings.

Short stories are often found online, making them less expensive than novels, too.

Virtual Book Clubs

We mentioned virtual, or online, book clubs earlier, but they’re worth talking about in a little more detail.

Online book clubs can be a great alternative to traditional book clubs for a number of reasons:

  • Since they’re not location dependent, you can connect with people from all over the country, and even the world
  • Not having to worry about getting to physical meetings can be less stressful for those who are less mobile or having trouble with transportation
  • No commute time also means more free time in your schedule for other activities, making book club less of a time commitment
  • Virtual book clubs can provide a wider variety of options than relying on physical meetings close to you. That means that you can find a time and theme that works for you, no matter where you are
  • Seniors who struggle with dressing and grooming can relax a little in virtual meetings since no one will know if you brushed your teeth today, or if you’re still in your pajama bottoms!

Start Your Own Book Club

If you’re not happy with the book club options available to you, why not start your own?

It might be easier than you think to start your own club. Just ask yourself the following questions.

Do You Want an Open or Closed Club?

The first thing to decide is who you want in your book club. Do you want to invite people you know, or open the club to the community?

If you want to create an open club, is membership open to anyone, or do you prefer that the members be seniors?

Deciding on the club membership will give you an idea of how to invite or advertise to members.

This can involve calling or emailing friends to invite them or posting notices in community and senior centers or libraries.

When, Where, and How Often, Do You Want to Meet?

Another important thing to decide is when and where the meeting will take place.

Some people might want to decide this before inviting members, and others will prefer to poll the members to decide as a group what will work best for everyone.

Many community centers and libraries have free rooms available by reservation, and many independent bookstores and coffee shops are happy to host book clubs. Sometimes there is an expectation that members will buy something from the business, though.

Hosting book club meetings in your home can be a convenient free option, but only do this if you already know the members well. It’s never a great idea to invite strangers into your home.

What Do You Want to Read?

Lastly, you’ll want to decide on a theme for your book club. Do you want to focus on a certain author or genre?

Do you want to revisit old classics or contemporary thrillers?

One thing to keep in mind when deciding is the availability of the books you choose, and how much they cost. Widely available ebooks that have been in print for a while are easy to grab from the library or a used bookstore, where new bestsellers will require members to shell out a little more money.

Final Thoughts

Starting your own club will not only help you, but you’ll be providing a service to the community. It might make you feel accomplished to help bring members of the community together, so they can shake off some of their own loneliness and boredom.

Listening to Fibber McGee and Molly

But joining an existing club has just as many benefits, with less responsibility.

Whichever option you choose, you’ll be amazed at how beneficial book clubs can be.

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