Improve Your Memory: Read a Book!

Reading is essential for brain health.

Studies find that reading helps to reduce stress, provide mental stimulation, increase knowledge, expand vocabulary, increase awareness, improve memory and strengthen analytical skills. Reading helps build memory and fight brain aging, so if you’re looking for a monthly activity to stimulate your brain, consider joining a book club!

The book club at Wesley Homes Lea Hill has been very busy reading 90 books over the past eight years! Shirley Martinsen, the founder of the Lea Hill Book Club, shared their process in preparing and discussing a book each month. She said, “The conversation is enhanced if you have background on the writer, so I suggest our members do a little research before they come to discuss the book.” She went on to add, “Disagreement is good because it can lead to some interesting discussions.”

Shirley has been working hard since May 2007 to create a successful, active and engaging book club on the Lea Hill campus. As of today, there are 12 members. What makes this book club extra special is the diverse array of opinions shared through their lively discussions. This isn’t a typical book club. Many book clubs are strictly social and seldom reach the topic of discussion. If you want to have an intelligent and in depth discussion on a thought-provoking book, then should consider joining the Lea Hill book club. When a librarian offered to prepare discussion questions for this group of women, Shirley looked around the room and said, “We’re all educated women. We can handle this ourselves!”

Shirley worked as a registered nurse for Wesley Homes and Judson Park and went on to become the assistant director of Nursing and the director of Staff Education. The other book club members are former educators, nurses and women seeking intelligent, in-depth conversations.

When asked to name her favorite book, Shirley had a difficult time choosing just one. She listed several favorites including, “The Man Who Loved China,” “Walking the Gobe,” “Water for Elephants,” “Anatomy of Desire,” “Whistling Season” and “Sons of the Profits.” This group meets at John’s Club every third Monday to discuss their chosen book provided by the King County Library. John’s Club is a comfortable club room located on the second floor of Eby Lodge at Lea Hill. The members often meet to discuss their Fireside_Roommonthly book on the overstuffed sofas and chairs that surround the large fireplace. The Lea Hill book club chose the book, “Seabiscuit” by Laura Hillenbrand to honor the Eby family and their love of horses.

The King County Library comes monthly to the Fireside Room at Lea Hill to bring books for residents to check out or exchange, including the supply of book club books for Shirley and her team. Many Lea Hill residents have trouble reading the fine print, so the Librarians accommodate the residents with large print books or books on tape for those who request them. For those who just can’t enjoy the voice of a book on tape, Wesley Homes offers a special opportunity for book lovers through Wesley Homes Home Health services. If you are unable to read or have difficulty reading, just call Home Health. They’ll send a personal storyteller to your bedside!

To contact Wesley Homes Home Health to schedule a consultation CLICK HERE



See below for the Complete List of Books Read by the Lea Hill Book Club.

  1. “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini
  2. “The City of Fallen Angels” by John Berendt
  3. “The Madonnas of Leningrad” by Debra Dean
  4. “The Highest Tide” by Jim Lynch
  5. “Mountains Beyond Mountains” by Tracy Kidder
  6. “Seabiscuit” by Laura Hillenbrand
  7. “My Antonia” by Willa Cather
  8. “A Long Way Gone” by Ismael Beah
  9. “Cry, the Beloved Country” by Alan Paton
  10. “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” by Kim Edwards
  11. “The Bookseller of Kabul” by Asne Seirstad
  12. “Stones from the River” by Ursula Hegi
  13. “The Work of Wolves” by Kent Meyers
  14. “The Emperor’s Children” by Claire Messud
  15. “Where the Heart is: by Billie Betts
  16. “The Secret River” by Kate Greenville
  17. “Botany of Desire” by Michael Pollan
  18. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Aexie
  19. “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen
  20. “A Memoir Heart Earth” by Ivan Doig
  21. “The Pickup” by Nadine Gordimer
  22. “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson, David Mortenson and Oliver Rolin
  23. “The Other Bolyn Girl” by Phillpa Gregory
  24. “The Inconvenient Wife” by Megan Chance
  25. “Mrs. Woolfe and the Servants” by Alison Light
  26. “A Good Dog: The Story of Orson Who Changed My Life” by Jon Katz
  27. “Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf
  28. “Digging to America” by Anne Tyler
  29. “Inspite of the Gods: the Strange Rise of Modern India” by Edward Luce
  30. “Breathing Lessons” by Anne Tyler
  31. “Broken for You” by Stephanie Kallos
  32. “A Thread of Grace” by Mary Dora Russell
  33. “No-No-Boy” by John Okada
  34. “Dreamers of the Day” by Mary Doria Russell
  35. “The Lemon Tree” by Sandy Tolan
  36. “The Man Who Loved China” by Simon Winchester
  37. “Run” by Ann Patchett
  38. “The Queen of Palmyra” by Minrose Gwin
  39. “The Lost City of Z” by David Grann
  40. “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” by Mark Haddon
  41. “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, A Year of Food Life” by Barbara Kinsolver
  42. “One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd” by Jim Fergus
  43. “The Red Tent” by Anita Diamont
  44. “New Mercies” by Sandra Dallas
  45. “Madison House” by Peter Donahue
  46. “Walking the Gobi” by Helen Thayer
  47. “Sons of the Profits” by Bill Speidel
  48. “The Curve of Time” by M. Wylie Blanchet
  49. “The Loney Polygamist” by Brady Udall
  50. “Honolulu” by Alan Brenert
  51. “Work Song” by Ivan Doig
  52. “Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson
  53. “Love and Summer” by Trevor William
  54. “The Time of Our Lives” by Tom Brokaw
  55. “Cleopatra” by Stacy Shiff
  56. “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein
  57. “The Postmistress” by Sarah Blake
  58. “The Thunderbolt Kid” by Bill Bryson
  59. “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” by John Boyne
  60. “A Memoirs Heart Earth” by Ivan Doig
  61. “Strength in What Remains” by Tracy Kidder
  62. “Riding the Bus with My Sister” by Rachael Simons
  63. “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” by Mitch Albom
  64. “La’s Orchestra Saves the World” by Alexander Smith
  65. “The Distant Hours” by Kate Morton
  66. “The Search” by Nora Roberts
  67. “Sutton” by J.R. Moehringer
  68. “The Bonus Army” by Paul Dickson and Thomas Allen
  69. “American Wife” by Curtis Sittenfeld
  70. “The Round House” by Louise Erdlich
  71. “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  72. “A Short History of Women” by Kate Walbert
  73. “Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever” by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
  74. “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemmingway
  75. “Healer” by Carol Cassella
  76. “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain
  77. “The Chaparone” by Laura Moriarty
  78. “Songs of Willow Frost” by Jamie Ford
  79. “Prague Winter” by Madeleine Albright and Bob Woodward
  80. “Whistling Season” by Ivan Doig
  81. “Stella Bain” by Anita Shreve
  82. “Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald” by Therese Ann Fowler
  83. “The Aviator’s Wife” by Melanie Benjamin
  84. “Life is a Wheel” by Bruce Weber
  85. “Under the Wide and Starry Sky” by Nancy Haran
  86. “Private Life” by Jane Smiley
  87. “One Summer” by Bill Bryson
  88. “The Valley of Amazement” by Amy Tan
  89. “Run” by Ann Patchet
  90. “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford

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