Hobbies: Why and How I Started a Book Group

     The leisure activities we choose shape us. They should be important because they stimulate our spirit and are a revealing trait of our personality. 

The Importance of Hobbies
     There is a very good article that includes, in my opinion, interesting and well-explained reasons about the significance of hobbies. It is called "Why Hobbies Are Important", published by David and Daniela Naidu on the website Skilled At Life. I invite you to go ahead and read it.  They list 11 reasons, and I agree with all of them. In fact, we can also see how helpful they are when moving abroad. Check Daniela and David's list (I have underlined the ones that most apply when making a fresh start): 
  1. "It makes you more interesting."
  2. "It helps to relieve stress by keeping you engaged in something you enjoy."
  3. "Hobbies help you become more patient."
  4. "Having a hobby can help your social life and create a bond with others."
  5. "It increases your confidence and self-esteem."
  6. "Hobbies help reduce or eradicate boredom."
  7. "It helps you develop new skills."
  8. "It increases your knowledge."
  9. "It enriches your life and gives you a different perspective on things."
  10. "It challenges you."
  11. "It helps prevent bad habits and wasting time."
     I wish I could pick a favorite from the list. Unfortunately, I might never will. I believe in all and every one of them. Now the question is, which is the hobby one wishes to pursue? In my personal case, reading and sharing the experience with someone else. Thus, to begin my integration in my new homeland, I had to make it happen.   

The Book Group

     In October 2016, I came to The Netherlands to be with my sweetheart for three months, waiting for my Inburgering results. During that time, I decided to start a book group in Eindhoven, just as I had previously done in Boston and Mexico City. I knew I needed to begin a community with people who shared interests and stimulated my mind. Therefore, and using the Meetup app, Eindhoven E-Readers Book Club Meetup was born.  

     Was it easy? Well, no one RSVP for the first reunion. Obviously, I was disappointed and thought of how to find someone who would like to join. At that time I was attending Speaking Dutch, a Daytime Class at The Hub Eindhoven for Expats, and there was someone I had seen there regularly and with whom I knew I had some shared interests (like music and books). When I told her about the meetup, she told me it was a nice idea since she had also belonged to a book group before moving to here. On January 5th, 2017, our first book group meetup with two members took place, her and I. The book was Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. I was ecstatic!

     In mid-January, I went back to Mexico and this lovely woman kept the group reading and growing. Now, thirteen months after this adventure began, we are three co-organizers who have had nine fulfilling exchanges. We have met people from different countries, backgrounds, and ages. We are like a reading buddies' squad: a kleine community exchanging information, thoughts, points of view, and a little bit of ourselves while indulging in our passion.

     If there is a hobby you would like to share, Meetup is an easy starting point. You can begin your own group from scratch or look for people who have your interests. It is a matter of taking the first step by choosing the hobby you wish to cultivate. ;-)