Book Club Seeks Advice for Living

Feb 9, 2012

EAST LANSING, MI (WKAR) - Members of the Better Living Book Club in East Lansing want to deal with their personal problems and live a happier life.

People join book clubs for all kinds of reasons: to socialize, to read books they wouldn't normally read or to hear opinions that are different from their own. In one book club in East Lansing, members are reading about how to deal with their personal problems and live a happier life.

Every first Monday of the month, about 14 women gather at the East Lansing Library for the Better Living Book Club.  It's the brainchild of librarian Robin Rushbrook.  A couple of years ago, she noticed that the two most popular books in her book club were the ones that sparked readers to change their lives.  They were "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan and "My Stroke of Insight" by Jill Bolte Taylor.

"They were books that shared part of the author's personality and how to live your life better," says Rushbrook.   "I like self-help, and I have a background in psychology, so I thought I’d try it to see what would happen."

Rushbrook started checking websites and book reviews, looking for books that encourage healthy lifestyles and also psychological and spiritual growth.

"For the more spiritual ones, I try to make sure it's not too out there," says Rushbrook.  "It's giving us pragmatic information as well as things that are more inspirational or spiritual in nature."

This month's book is "Trust Your Vibes" by Sonia Choquette, a psychic who writes about how to get in touch with your intuition.  Rushbrook admits it is unconventional.

"It is a little out there, but this is actually one of the more reasonable and grounded intuition books that I found," says Rushbrook.  "It was requested by the group that we read something on developing intuition, and I think it's very good.  It's very practical and very down to earth."

It's just the kind of book that Colleen Stribley likes.  She's one of the original members of the Better Living Book Club.

"The very first book was "The Happiness Project", says Stribley.  "It was January of 2011.  It was a freezing cold evening, and I thought that just appeals to me.  There were 14 or 15 women who came, and they said that was just what they needed."

Throughout the year, the group has read books about gratitude, compassion, stress, relaxation, and mindful eating. Cheryle Pritikin also joined the club a year ago.

"I had been diagnosed with breast cancer," says Pritikin. "After I was done with treatment, I was looking for alternative ways to help myself heal, both mentally and physically.  I just happened to see a notice in the paper about this, and I said this is step one."

Pritikin says she was looking for inspiration and was surprised to find it in "My Year with Eleanor" by Noelle Hancock.  The author found the courage to face her fears with Eleanor Roosevelt as her guide. Robin Rushbrook says the book that affected her the most was "A Bittersweet Season" by Jane Gross.

"It was about a well-known journalist who describes the story of dealing with her elderly mother and her elderly mother's decline," says Rushbrook.  "She talks about that along with a lot of very helpful information about the healthcare system for the elderly.  That one affected me a lot because I'm dealing with those issues.  It affected everyone in the group, because many of us are dealing with those issues."

Rushbrook often invites an expert guest who can contribute to the discussion.  If not, toward the end of the evening, she'll play an interview with the author from You Tube. For their next book, the group is reading "Partnering with Nature" by Catriona MacGregor about how we can benefit from connecting with the natural world.