We’ve long known that reading promotes empathy. We’ve recently learned that those who actively engage their brain in reading are less likely to fall prey to cognitive decline, and that those who make time for social interaction are also less likely to experience cognitive decline as well. Today we’re going to combine all three: empathy, books, and social interaction.

How? We want you to join a book club.

If there are no book clubs in your area, that’s as good excuse as any to start one yourself. Simply send out a group email to a few local friends and create one. Book clubs typically meet once a month in rotating homes to discuss whichever book had been assigned the month prior. Book choice is either done by consensus as a group, or the club can decide that each month one member of the group gets to choose the book. Beyond that, there are no rules other than showing up, talking about the book, and talking with one another.

Some book clubs have three members. Others have as many as twenty. Many book clubs serve food, so there’s a social component before everyone sits down in the living room to discuss the book in question. Some book clubs are casual. Others are more serious, hiring either a professor of the genre in question or the author of the book themselves to be present and answer questions on the night their book is discussed.

The point of all this is simple: reading is fun, socializing is fun, and it’s all good for your brain, so what are you waiting for? You can even serve brain-healthy appetizers as well: raw vegetables with dip, hummus and whole wheat pita, and a big batch of guacamole, yum!