My car screeched to a halt halfway home from a dinner last week and I turned around. I remembered I had left my cell phone on the restaurant table.

I’d be less concerned if that wasn’t the second time I had done that this year (and it’s only February). So I decided to do something about it. Thankfully, Pikes Peak Library District had a solution for me — one that can prevent memory loss, make you smarter and help you relax. I think I can benefit from all three.

The Winter Adult Reading Program kicked off this month, and I know what you’re thinking: aren’t reading programs for kids? That’s definitely not the case.

This reading program is specifically designed to keep us overgrown kids learning and meeting new people.

This year’s theme is “A Universe of Stories.” In keeping with the theme, the content is completely up to you. A combination of reading books and attending our events will get you through the finish line by March 31.

There are also optional, built-in reading challenges to help you get outside your reading comfort zone. Plus, there are prizes involved.

Events range from crafting and African drumming exhibitions to movie screenings and discussions. You’ll get social interaction and intellectual stimulation, no matter which event you choose.

I know, everyone’s busy. There are always a thousand reasons not to do something. But this type of exercise is worth your time.

Here’s why:

1. Reading improves your memory. Research published in Neurology shows regular reading will slow down your brain’s memory loss which, unfortunately, comes along with age. Have you noticed your car keys going missing more often? Here’s an easy solution: pick up a book.

2. Reading makes you smarter. Without getting too technical, reading wakes up neural pathways in your brain, relighting passageways that may have gotten a bit dusty. Spark those neurons back to life!

3. Reading helps you get along with other people. In today’s world, that is no small feat. Research published in Science magazine shows that reading literary fiction helps you understand and empathize with what other people are feeling in real life. Can books create world peace? The jury is still out on that one.

4. Reading can help you be stress-free. A 2009 Sussex University study found reading can reduce your stress by as much as 68 percent. The Mayo Clinic also found that reading before bed can tell your body it’s time to wind down, helping you sleep better. Basically, library books are like free self-care.

5. Reading and learning in a group setting can lead to healthier retirements. Research in BMJ Open found social interaction and group learning can reduce chances of dementia and memory decline.

My conclusion: you can’t afford not to participate in our Winter Adult Reading Program. Invest in yourself, and reap the rewards. Sign up at Cheyenne Mountain Library today or visit ppld.org/WARP. And don’t miss WARP literary trivia at Cheyenne Mountain Library on March 5!

Kayah Swanson is the public relations specialist at Pikes Peak Library District. She’s a former journalist turned nonprofit communicator. Reach Kayah with any questions at kswanson@ppld.org.

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