AARP says reading is good for your health | Bookends

In a recent issue of the AARP Bulletin, they listed 50 great ways to live longer. This was No. 37 on the list: “You need to read. Sounds like we made this up, but scientific research supports the longevity benefits of reading — newspapers and magazines will do, but books are the best. As little as a half-hour a day of book reading gives a significant survival advantage over those who do not read,” said the study’s senior author, Becca R. Levy, a professional of epidemiology at Yale.

So the message is clear: you can spend your time reading and claim it is for health purposes, right?

And with that thought, I bet writing could give you the same benefits, so as a reminder: I will be presenting a workshop on Memoir Writing on May 6. Among other writing tips, we will talk about how to get started and how to organize those stories you want to tell your family.

The workshop will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 26 at the Kitsap Publishing offices in Poulsbo, and lunch is included. Email me at and I’ll send you a registration form. And, for those that already have the registration forms and haven’t responded yet…be aware, we only have four spaces left.

Now let me tell you about Mark Allen, a screenwriter whose scripts “Delirium” and “Early Grave” have been made into films and now he’s written a book called “Nocturnal”. When I asked Mark how he came up with the idea for this book he said, “I was dying of Stage 4 throat cancer, and I wanted to talk about life, death and what might lie beyond. I wondered if love survived? In my case, I was not afraid of dying. All I thought about was the love I felt for my family. So in my book, love does indeed survive. It transcends the boundaries of life and death. That’s really one of the underlying themes.”

“Nocturnal” is a story set in present-day San Diego, where a “drug war rages” on both sides of the border. An undercover policeman has infiltrated the cartel and is marked for death. But a vampire saves the young cop’s life and “protects him as they take down the cartel and discover who sold him out.” It is not a ‘regular’ vampire story (if there is such a thing). The setting involves current happenings.

“Nocturnal” is a story of honor and betrayal, sin and redemption, seething hatred, and a love that transcends Death itself,” Mark said. This storyline intrigued me and I wasn’t disappointed.

I also asked him how long he’d been writing. “Forty-five years,” He said.

Mark, a young looking vibrant guy, looked to be only about forty, so then, of course, I asked him how old he was (he said he was fifty-five). Then Mark shared more about his life with me.

“I am a retired Navy Hospital Corpsman,” he said. “I served 1980-2001. I was an Independent Duty Corpsman (IDC), and a Fleet Marine Force (FMF) warfare specialist.” He said he saw more combat than he’d like to repeat and started his writing of screen scripts in San Diego.

He now writes from his Port Orchard home. When I asked where his favorite place to write was he said, “I love coffee houses, but I also like my home desk. In the warm months, I set up outside on my back porch. As long as I have my laptop, my ear buds, and some Led Zeppelin or AC/DC, I’m good.”

Before we parted I asked him if there was anything else he wanted me to know, he said he started a blog a few months back,

I really enjoyed meeting this author and look forward to chatting with him again.

— Contact Donna Lee Anderson at