Whether it is solving a mystery on the Orient Express or in the English countryside, tracking a Russian submarinefighting for survival in the Alaskan wilderness, exploring the fields and forests of Prince Edward Island with a spunky red-headed orphan, or even exploring the depths of outer space, a good book allows us to travel to different places and times and experience the world through the eyes of richly imagined characters – all without ever leaving the comforts of home.

As if this prospect isn’t enough to send you racing to find the perfect story to enjoy, reading also keeps the mind sharp and engaged; reduces stress; and helps relieve symptoms of depression, to name just a few of the many benefits. Studies have also shown that reading books may even help you live longer!

88-year-old Lexington Square Elmhurst resident Joan Halas can certainly attest to the pleasures of reading, having devoured more than 200 books in her beautiful, well-appointed apartment at the senior living community since the start of the pandemic. The longtime bibliophile says she reads for pleasure but also relishes learning new things from the variety of books she enjoys. What a wonderful way to “see the world” while staying safe and cozy at home!

As you look for ways to keep busy and engaged this winter, why not take a cue from Ms. Halas and curl up with a good book – or two, or three? You could choose a tale set in a warm locale to fend off the chill; a cozy yarn to enjoy with a cup of coffee, tea, cider or cocoa; or an extra-long story to enjoy on an extra-long evening.

There will always be unique physical delights that accompany print books, such as the scent and feel of the pages and heft of the tome, not to mention the joys of browsing the shelves at an Elmhurst or Lombard bookstores or the Elmhurst or Helen Plum Library to find just the right read. Book-loving residents of Lexington Square can even peruse the shelves of a beautiful, fully-stocked library without ever leaving the retirement community!

In recent years e-readers have also opened up a world of opportunities for literature lovers of all ages by placing thousands of books at their fingertips, available for immediate enjoyment without having to venture away from home. Many booksellers offer digital versions of their wares, and libraries also offer a wide variety of e-books for checkout. With an e-reader, book lovers can adjust screen brightness to adapt to their location and time of day, enlarge the text for ease of reading, or even choose to have the book read aloud. If you are reading just before bedtime, though, experts recommend shutting off the e-reader and picking up a print book, as the light emitted from e-readers can make it more difficult to nod off.

Whether you decide to pick up a printed book or turn to the digital version, there are a number of ways to find your next great read. Staff at the local bookshops, and libraries are always happy to help readers find just the right selection. Platforms such as GoodReads can make suggestions based on other books you have enjoyed, and you can also browse categories ranging from science fiction to biography. You may also want to check out this list of must-read classics, the top reads of 2020, or this GoodReads list of recommendations for readers over 40.

Whatever you choose and however you choose to read it, with a good book in hand your journey awaits – and you don’t even need to put on your shoes.

In our next post we’ll delve into how you can get social while reading – and some of the reasons you may want to!

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