Jewish Book Festival: A key to retirement fulfillment

Alan Spector is an author, business consultant, baseball player, traveler, and grandfather.  He has authored five published books, including, with coauthor Keith Lawrence, Your Retirement Quest: 10 Secrets for Creating and Living a Fulfilling Retirement (  Alan and Keith conduct workshops across the country helping prospective and current retirees plan the non-financial aspects of their retirement—to make the rest of their lives the best of their lives.  Alan’s latest book, Body Not Recovered, is a work of historical fiction from the Vietnam War/Protest Movement era, and it has deep St. Louis roots.

By Alan Spector

When I was preparing to retire, I asked former colleagues who had previously made the leap, “What has surprised you in retirement?” 

There were a number of common themes in their responses, and among these was a sentiment echoed by many.  In one way or another, they said, “I have found it difficult to replace the intellectual stimulation that I naturally had just by showing up at work every day.”

As a result, when Keith Lawrence and I coauthored Your Retirement Quest, we included in what we identified as the “10 key elements of a fulfilling retirement” the element we call “Growth.”  Finding ways to challenge your brain has many benefits, most which each of us can cite, from just plain having fun to helping stave off signs of dementia and everything in between.  

Well, here’s some good news.  Every year about this time, the Jewish Community Center puts on the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival.  Although it has its fair share of Jewish content, it has Jewish authors who have researched and written about a wide range of secular topics as well.  Over the course of two weeks every November, the authors speak and answer questions about their what they have learned, about their books, about their writing process, and so much more.  

This post may be too late to remind you to go this year, but put the Book Festival on your agenda for 2017 and beyond.  It can be among the best things you can do to complement what you are doing to increase your intellectual stimulation, your “Growth.”

Here are but a few examples of the authors, their books, and their subject matter in but the first third of the festival for 2016.  But this is no fluke—the festival has consistently delivered exciting programming year after year and promises to continue to do so in future years.

Greg Milner discussed Pinpoint, his book about GPS and its developing influence on our lives, both good and bad.  Victoria Kelly wrote Mrs. Houdini to describe Harry’s wife and her relationship with the magician, both during his live and beyond.  Robert Watson shared his journey to learn about the The Nazi Titanic, tragic, yet instructive, story he uncovered despite the British decision to cover it up.  Kenneth Rogoff, the former Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund, discussed The Curse of Cash to make the persuasive case for phasing out paper money.  And the list goes on—two to three authors each day for two weeks. 

Want to be both entertained and intellectually stimulated?  Want to continue to grow?  Think St. Louis Jewish Book Festival; or for those of you outside St. Louis, find author programs near you.