Volunteering makes a healthy resolution

By Carole Howard
PREVIEW columnist, and the Library Staff

If you are looking for a New Year’s resolution that benefits your community as well as yourself, consider volunteering. According to The New York Times, study after study shows that volunteering not only makes you feel good, but also improves your mental health and helps you live longer.

In a review of 40 academic papers by the University of Exeter in the U.K., researchers found that volunteers had lower levels of depression and higher levels of well-being and life satisfaction. Also, volunteers were a fifth less likely to die within the next four to seven years than average.

Volunteering is thought to be especially good for the physical health of older people, by encouraging them to stay active and spend more time outside the home. A separate study from Carnegie Mellon University found that volunteering can improve heart health by reducing blood pressure. And young people benefit as well: A separate U.S. study published in the Journal JAMA Pediatrics linked volunteering with improved cardiovascular health in high school students.

In a separate article, Good Housekeeping reported that getting out of your home to be with other people is good for your mental health — and that isolation can be as big a risk factor for death as smoking, high blood pressure and not exercising.

An estimated 27 percent of people in America devote some of their free time to volunteering, compared to 22.5 percent in Europe and 36 percent in Australia, according to The Times.

At your library, we are thankful for the almost 40 volunteers who work every day to help us maintain the collection; shelve returned books, CDs and DVDs; and make sure all the books and materials are in their proper place. Because of our small staff, these volunteers are vital to our service to you. If you want to join them, please contact Jackie Welch, library director, at 264-2208.

Search and rescue advice

Save the date of Thursday, Jan. 9 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. for a free presentation by the Upper San Juan Search and Rescue to help you stay safe this winter. Learn what to consider before you go out, what to bring when you do, things to think about when you’re out there — and, ultimately, how to prevent the need for a search and rescue.


“Mirage” by Clive Cussler with Jack Du Brul is the latest adventure in the Oregon Files series. “The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon” by Alexander McCall Smith is the fourteenth book in the No. l Ladies’ Detective Agency series.

Free holiday games
for teens 

There will be two more special holiday gaming and card battles for teens over the school break — from noon to 1:30 p.m. today (Thursday, Jan. 2) and tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 3). Enjoy Xbox, Wii, board games and Pokemon Card Battles, and you are welcome to bring other trading card battle games. Snacks provided.

Free science fun for tweens

Tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 3) is Science Madness for fourth-sixth grades from 2 to 3:15 p.m. Registration required.

Free movies for adults

Every Friday at 10 a.m., you are invited for coffee, donuts and a movie for adults from the 1950s or 1960s. The movie for tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 3) is Alfred Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train.”

Free technology classes

Meg Wempe is available for the highly popular Tech Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sessions are 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays. Join her for one-on-one informal help with your computer or tablet issues. A more formal session on Facebook Basics (for people, not businesses) requiring registration takes place next Wednesday, Jan. 8, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Free teen gaming

Every Tuesday from 4 to 5:30 p.m., we host Teen Gaming (Xbox, Wii, board games and Pokemon Card Battles, and you are welcome to bring other trading card battle games. Snacks provided.


“A Clockwork Orange” is Stanley Kubrick’s classic. “Eagle Eye” is a race-against-time thriller. “Treasure Planet” is a Walt Disney animated feature for the entire family. “Joyful Noise” is an inspirational story starring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” starring Jack Nicholson, swept all five major Academy Awards in 1975. “Due Date” is a comedy featuring Robert Downey Jr. “The Watsons Go To Birmington” tells of a black family’s trip to the South. “Murder My Sweet” is a Philip Marlowe classic. “Gun Crazy” is a thriller cited as the forerunner to “Bonnie and Clyde.” “Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon” is a thriller in Japanese with English subtitles.

Thrillers and mysteries 

“Outlaw” by Ted Dekker is an epic and often violent adventure of two worlds. “Sacamore Row” by John Grisham takes readers back to the courthouse where Jake Brigance is once again embroiled in a controversial trial. “The Circle” by Dave Eggers is a suspense story about a woman working for an Internet company. “The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion” by Fannie Flagg is a new comic mystery spanning decades and generations. “No Man’s Nightingale” by Ruth Rendall is the latest in the Inspector Wexford series, which will soon mark its 50th anniversary. “Doing Hard Time” by Stuart Woods is the latest in the Stone Barrington mystery series. “A Nasty Piece of Work” is a crime novel by Robert Littell.

Other new fiction

“Dark Witch” by Nora Roberts is book one of a new Cousins O’Dwyer trilogy set in Ireland. “Esrever Doom” by Piers Anthony is a new fantasy adventure set in the magical world of Xanth. “Winners” by Danielle Steel follows the lives of family and friends impacted when an aspiring ski champion has a tragic accident. “The Valley of Amazement” by Amy Tan is her latest novel about Chinese women, this one set in Shanghai.

Memoirs and biographies

“Days of Fire” by New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker takes readers through the eight years of the Bush-Cheney administration, drawing on hundreds of interviews and never-before-released documents. “The Bully Pulpit” by Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin tells of the friendship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. “The Death of Santini” by Pat Conroy is an account of the heart-wrenching struggles of this popular author’s family. “The Most of Nora Ephron” is a collection of some of the works of this late comedy writer.

Food books

“The Art of Simple Food II” by Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse restaurant, presents hundreds of new recipes reflecting the author’s passion for all parts of all seasonal produce. “Provence, 1970” by Luke Barr tells about six iconic culinary figures including M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child and James Beard who find themselves together in the south of France.

How-to and self help

“The Foster Parenting Manual” by John Degarmo is a guide to creating a loving, safe and stable home for children. “How to Age in Place” by Languirand and Bornstein helps boomers plan for retirement living independently. “When Your Adult Child Breaks Your Heart” by Young and Adamec offers practical advice and tested strategies for coping with mental illness, substance abuse and other family problems.

Other nonfiction

“Wanted: The Truth” by Brad Melzer chronicles the world’s top 10 most intriguing stories. “Vanished” by Wil S. Hylton tells of the 60-year-search for 11 men who disappeared mysteriously in 1944. “Practice to Deceive” by Ann Rule is the true crime story of the Christmas murder of a man in Washington State.

Thanks to our donors

For books and materials this week, we thank Elizabeth Einig and Kristal Fortune and several anonymous donors.

Quotable Quote

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” — Robin Williams, contemporary American actor and stand-up comedian.


For more information on library books, services and programs — and to reserve books, e-books, CDs and DVDs from the comfort of your home — please visit our website at http://pagosa.colibraries.org/.

This story was posted on January 2, 2014.