Sue has belonged to book clubs for five decades. She wasn’t going to let a move to assisted living change that.
When Sue met Peg, a fellow book-lover and resident at the Arbors at Dracut, the two approached the activities director, Judi Parisi, about starting a book club. Since December 2017, about 10 residents have joined the club at the assisted living community and have read more than 11 books.
“We’ve read everything from comedies to love stories to mysteries,” says Parisi, who makes sure to have large-print books and audiobooks for seniors who are visually impaired. “It keeps their minds sharp.”
Getting to Know the Neighbors
Book club also provided a way for Sue and Peg to get to know the people who live in the community.
“We all come from different places,” Sue says. “Now, we’re here. We get to know one another through our discussions, and it helps us feel connection we might not have otherwise. It helps in our adjustment to living here simply because we have found people who like books like we do.”
Hearing Different Perspectives
But the readers don’t always have everything in common. Parisi recalls the discussion the book club had after reading Defending Jacob, a novel by William Landay about a father dealing with the accusation that his 14-year-old son is a murderer.
“Being a mother myself, I could understand why it was upsetting to a few of the women,” Parisi says. “You love your kids and would defend them to the end of the earth. Some men argued the point that the law is the law. When I went to the librarian, I told her book club didn’t go so well. The book just upset people. She said to me that it actually was a success because it got conversations going. It might not always be comfortable, but it’s sometimes needed.”
Peg recalls a book about World War II that also inspired interesting discussions: “I really like the fact that we have different ages and different experiences, and when we talk about a book that took place in the Second World War, we have different input. I was a little kid. But Ray, who is in our group, was in the service. That’s a novel experience. These are really revealing episodes in our elderly lives.”
Not only do the book club participants learn things about one another, but they also stumble on new authors, much to Peg’s surprise.
“I worked as a volunteer in the library for 30-some years,” she says. “The biggest discovery I had about the book club was they introduced me to an author I didn’t know existed after all those years of volunteering — Louise Penny — and, oh, I just love her! I’m reading all her books. I don’t know how she didn’t come under my radar.”
Next up on the book club’s reading list? To Kill a Mockingbird.
“We want to see how we feel about it at this age compared to how we felt when we were very young,” Sue says.
For Arbors at Dracut residents who aren’t sure about book club, there are two bookcases full of books in the community, but Peg says come anyway!
“You don’t have to participate,” she says. “You can just come and listen. And if you have something to add, we'll be glad to hear it.”
If your loved one would enjoy participating in a book club, making new friends, and exploring different perspectives, schedule a tour of the Arbors at Dracut today.