Whenever I sell my books at craft fairs, I know that only a small percentage of attendees read novels. People generally don’t come to craft fairs to buy books, and some even tell me that they don’t read period.
How folks spend their free time is of course up to them, but a growing number of studies show that non-readers are not only missing out on great entertainment, but losing out on an opportunity to improve their mental state.
I came across a blog about a study that showed the positive impact of reading to combat loneliness, mental health issues, and dementia among seniors. You can read the blog HERE, and another link will take you to the full report (it’s 50 pages long, so I didn’t read it all), but the bottom line is that reading matters a great deal to one’s overall brain health.
In Canada, we do a good job of encouraging young people to read. Almost every parent I know read to their kids when they were toddlers and during their elementary school years. Reading and books are a big part of school life, but what about the other end of the age spectrum? What happens when real-life demands take people away from reading, and they’ve long forgotten the joy of immersing oneself in a good story?
If you know of someone, of any age, who’s suffering through loneliness, memory loss, depression, or other mental health issues, give them a good book, or take them on a trip to the library, or maybe even read to them. It’s a simple way to improve the quality of one’s life and might just help revive the joy of letting one’s imagination escape into brand new worlds. The more readers there are, the better off the world is.
This year hasn’t gone by quickly for me, although it has been eventful. I had two main goals in 2018 and neither of them had to do with writing. One was to finally move my mother into assisted living (the decision involved many discussions and was both physically and emotionally draining). The other was to sell Mom’s condo (which required lots of repair). The first goal was achieved on July 29, the second on Nov. 2nd.
Rather than wait for the new year to begin, I’m starting to think about new goals. I’m a big believer in goal setting. It’s the difference between getting something done and plodding along, leaving heaps of half-finished novels in piles.
I do have a number of big, ongoing writing goals that started a few years back. A few of those goals have been met while others are still in the works. Each year I edge a little closer to the finish line.
I probably won’t meet my reading goal of fifty novels this year. I just finished number forty, but I’m not sure I can read ten more books over the next two months. I’d also planned to get the sixth Casey Holland Mystery, The Blade Man, ready for my editor, but I’m behind schedule there as well. I’m just finishing draft #7 and while the book’s much better than it was with draft #6, I need another read-through before handing it over.
There are other writing projects that are not as far along as I hoped, but as you can imagine, real life family issues took priority and will take priority again as my mother’s health slowly declines. So, do I continue to make writing goals? You bet. I’d rather try and fail than not try at all.
The thing about goals is that they can be adjusted, and time limits aren’t always necessary or helpful. The point is to have at least one that matters, so I’m going to be realistic, as I decide which writing and household projects to spend time on over the coming months. Before this year is over, I just might have new goals ready to go for 2019.
Back in January, I blogged about new reading goals for this year. The plan was to read a lot more nonfiction and I have, but many of the topics were so heavy and thought-provoking that I found myself needing a breather. So, I also chose fantasy and mystery novels.
Last week (Aug. 9) was Book Lovers Day, which I somehow missed, probably because it was a really busy work day. On the other hand, every day is book lover’s day for me.
By the way, here’s a bit if trivia I got from a newsletter I subscribe to. Those of you who are readers won’t be surprised that to learn that according to a study in Social Science & Medicine, book readers live two years longer on average than people who don’t read. Reading books boosts brain health and lowers stress hormones. Doesn’t surprise you, right?
Among the 27 books I’ve read so far this year, some of my favorite nonfiction is:
- Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon
- Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
- A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
- I Am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin (Raoul Peck, Ed.)
- No Time To Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula le Guin
- The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage by David E. Hoffman
- Feeding Frenzy: Land Grabs, Price Spikes & The World Food Crises by Paul McMahon
Some of my favorite fiction is:
- Cobra Clutch by A.J. Devlin
- Give Out Creek by J.G. Toews
- To Sleep With Stones by WL Hawkin
- Two Clever By Half by Will North
- The Forgotten Girls by Alexa Steele
Eighteen of the books I’ve read are fiction, which suggests that the nonfiction choices are making a greater impact on me than fiction, which is probably an issue of content rather than the quality of writing. As a mystery writer, I’m a bit more critical of fiction than nonfiction.
I’m behind in my 50 book goal, but I’m working on picking up the pace. After all, there’s nothing better than sitting out on my deck, glass of wine in one hand, a good book in the other. So, what are your favorite reads so far this year?
I’m thrilled to announce that Imajin Books will release my second Evan Dunstan “Qwickie” novella, A Toxic Craft, on December 6th!
For those who aren’t familiar with my novellas, Evan is a 22-year-old security guard at post-secondary campus. Evan’s ambition to join the RCMP inspires him to prove himself at solving campus crimes, as long it doesn’t interfere with his hot dates.
Evan’s latest adventure centers around his grandmother and her cronies as they host a seniors Christmas craft fair in STT’s gymnasium.
Here’s the blurb:
A crafty senior…
Evan Dunstan’s spunky grandmother is giving him major headaches. As organizer for the seniors’ Christmas craft fair, Gran faces warring vendors and acts of vandalism that threaten to ruin the event. When nasty knitter Cora Riddell is knocked unconscious and her water spiked with a hallucinogen, Gran begs Evan to find out who’s responsible before more harm is done—or someone dies.
A daunting task…
In charge of the fair’s security, Evan faces a challenge that grows more difficult by the hour. His boss expects him to find the culprit before police are called in and Southwest Trades & Technology’s reputation as a safe campus is destroyed.
A friend or foe?
A search for answers reveals the disturbing possibility that even friends and coworkers hope Evan will fail. Is the culprit closer to him than he thought? Whose startling secrets must be exposed to find the truth?
Pre-orders are available at:
From an early age, I’ve loved to read. Books kept me company in a life that involved frequent moves, and were solace when family life was tough. Although I didn’t plan to become a writer, a love for the written word and a good imagination found me delving into the world of fiction.
Reading has many benefits. One study says that readers live longer. An article in Blinklist states that the common link among the world’s high achievers isn’t IQ or luck, it’s a love of reading. Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg, for instance, are all avid readers. I’m not saying that they read fiction, but that they make a point to read daily and often learn something new nearly every day. How cool is that?
I’ve learned a lot about the craft of storytelling by reading thousands of works of fiction and books on writing. I’m turning to other types of nonfiction these days, and I can’t wait to learn many more things.
By the way, for those of you who love to discuss books, I belong to three great groups on Facebook. All are well moderated, so the discussions usually stays friendly.
Bookworms Anonymous, https://www.facebook.com/groups/131878603663093/
Readers Coffee House, https://www.facebook.com/groups/ReadersCoffeehouse/
BookAholic Café, https://www.facebook.com/groups/BookAholicCafe/