No matter what our stage in life, hobbies are important. They can be food for our soul as well as nurture our spirit, restore our physical energy and renew our mind.
In a new study by the Mayo Clinic, researchers found that those who engage in activities like painting, quilting or book clubs during middle age were less likely to develop memory impairments that typically precede dementia. Rosebud O. Roberts, lead author of the study said, “Continued education, learning new things – taking classes in a new area of learning may also yield positive benefits for cognitive function.” With this in mind, our most recent Wise Women event was planned as a way to, perhaps, expand our horizons or engage in a new activity that one can enjoy.
Recently, I was able to reintroduce an old hobby of mine. As a child, I loved to read. I could always be found curled up with a book. But over the last 10 or so years, it’s been impossible to find the time to read. After working all day, then coming home to prepare dinner and spend time with my family, I found I was too tired to pick up a book in the evening. Fortunately, a year ago, I found a way to bring this activity back into my life.
I discovered audiobooks (recordings of books being read out loud) which has given me the ability to become an avid reader again. Listening to a book rather than reading has opened up many new opportunities to find the time to read. There are two programs I use – one that has a membership fee and one that is free.
Audiobook Subscriptions: Audible
Audible is a membership program that allows you to listen to a book on your iPhone, iPad, or Android and Windows phones. Kindles with audio capability are Audible ready too. Audible offers monthly and annual membership options with a 30-day free trial. The price for a monthly plan ranges from $14.95 to $22.95.
Once you sign up for the plan, you can download the app on to your phone or other electronic device, pick and download the book you want and you’re ready to go. Since you are able to keep the book indefinitely, it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you read (or listen).
Free Library Audiobooks: OverDrive
The other program I use is through the local libraries. The app the libraries use is called OverDrive. To find a library system that uses the OverDrive program you can simply enter your zip code in the “Find a Library” section of their website. When I first got started, I went to the local library where they showed me how to get set up. I have found that Audible has a greater variety of books. The other inconvenience of using the library system is the audiobook expires at the end of the lending period. Different libraries may have different lending periods. The longest lending period the San Diego County library system allows is 21 days. If you are unable to finish the book in the allotted time, and the audiobook is still available, the loan would need to be renewed. But you can’t beat the price!
I don’t have a long commute to work. However, driving to and from work, I can usually get in an hour of listening time in a day. To optimize the listening of the book in my car, I am able to run it through my car’s speakers. If I find myself home alone, I may even listen to my book from my iPhone as I cook, clean or do other chores.
Even though I’ve enjoyed many books this past year, hands down, my favorite book for 2014 was “The Boys in the Boat”. I’m always looking for a good book to read so if you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear from you!