At Tapestry we encourage people to bring their interests and passions when they move in, and also to explore new ones.
Many of our residents are avid readers and that has spawned book clubs and lending libraries at all of our locations.
Donna Brendon, who has been a part-time Concierge at Tapestry at Arbutus Walk for five years, leads this location’s book club. With a previous 30-year career as a book seller, Donna offered to reorganize the in-house library and then became the natural best choice to lead the book club.
The book club of between eight and 10 members meets the last Thursday of every month, with suggestions coming from all members for next month’s read, which is then voted on. Donna provides discussion questions for each book.
Donna says when compared to some other book clubs, the Tapestry group is very focused on reading and discussing the selected book versus groups that may be more focused on the social aspect (and the food!). “We think more deeply about the book than you would ordinarily,” she says. That said, the book club is still a social activity for members and new friendships have formed as a result.
The selection of books has ranged from current best sellers to old favourites that some members are re-reading for a second or third time. Some members listen to the audio version, use an e-reader or read on their smartphones, while others prefer hard cover.
Donna has also brought some unusual selections to the group, including “Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands” by Mary Beaton, a graphic novel which details the author’s own time working in the male-dominated Canadian oil fields to pay off her student loans.
While “Ducks” did not receive rave reviews across the group, that’s OK, says Donna. “Sometimes they don’t like the book, and oftentimes they will tell me that before the meeting,” she says. “But once we sit down and start talking, people will talk about the parts of the book that they found stimulating.”
MaryEllen, who moved into Tapestry at Arbutus Walk in January 2023, says it was a book club that brought her to Tapestry in the first place. “I belong to another book club (outside of Tapestry) and the woman who was hosting it lived here. She had arranged for the book club to have a tour and then I asked for a separate tour for my husband Robert and myself. He walked in and he said ‘this is it’,” she says.
MaryEllen’s love of reading started early in life, as she fondly remembers receiving the latest “Nancy Drew Mystery Stories” book as a present each Christmas. MaryEllen is also a published author herself, having written “Obits: The Way We Say Goodbye” as a product of her reading of “thousands” of obituaries each year.
Another book club member is Jean, who has lived at Tapestry for almost eight years. She also had an early start on her reading career, learning to read fluently at age five. “I lived in a three-generation home and my mother’s sister who would come to stay with us was a teacher. She spurred on my love of reading,” says Jean. “In fact, the book I first learned to read with is in a basket beside me – it’s called ‘The Man Who Knew Coolidge’ by Sinclair Lewis,” Jean adds.
Jean is one of the book club members who prefers audio books, and says she likes to crochet blankets while listening. “No idle hands,” she adds.
Both MaryEllen and Jean give Donna rave reviews for her coordination of the book club. “It’s almost like herding cats,” says MaryEllen with a laugh. Adds Jean: “I find that even if I’ve read a book before, the conversations are richer,” she says. “Donna does a phenomenal job – she’s just an absolute delight.”
Not only is reading enjoyable, but it’s also good for us. A team of researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology have found that reading may help preserve memory skills as people, and their brains, grow older.
According to the researchers, leisure reading, the kind where you get really invested in a story, helps build the mental abilities on which reading depends. One of these mental abilities is episodic memory, or memory for events, which allows us to remember what happened in previous chapters of a book and to make sense of the ongoing story. Another ability is working memory, which helps us keep track of things that happened in recent paragraphs as we continue reading.
Participating in a book club is just one of many activities our residents have to choose from each day, week or month at Tapestry. We align everything we offer to our 7Dimensions of Wellness, and book clubs can help to promote intellectual, occupational and social wellness.
If you are looking for a vibrant and active retirement living community where you can continue to pursue your individual passions and interests, please contact us and we would be pleased to host you for lunch and a tour. Ask about our $5,000 moving incentive when you sign a lease prior to Dec. 31, 2023.