set of books encased in headset

Ways to Read Books and Reading to Enhance Mental Health

The year 2020 has certainly been a year of many uncertainties. With this in mind, some of the peers at VisionAware would like to share the one main aspect to living they have particularly enjoyed in staying connected to a wider circle of “friends” during COVID-19 – reading a good book.

A good book is like a good friend. It will stay with you for the rest of your life. When you first get to know it, it will give you excitement and adventure, and years later it will provide you with comfort and familiarity. And best of all, you can share it with your children or your grandchildren or anyone you love enough to let into its secrets.

Charlie Lovett

How true!

What’s on the Reading List?

If you are looking for a friend to take you on a literary journey, VisionAware began a bookshelf series a few years ago called Reading to Enhance Mental Health, and we have plunged right in to dust off the shelf for you. In the introduction, peer advisor Audrey Demmitt wrote, “Whether you are reading with your ears, on a Kindle or an iPad, books enrich our lives and expand our worlds.”

The book list contains a collection of titles ranging from memoir, to fiction, nonfiction and poetry with “blindness” as the theme. Titles in the list which are available as a free talking book or in Braille from the National Library Service (NLS) are also noted.

It has been my experience that when we read works by authors who are blind or visually impaired, we gain unexpected insights, moving perspectives and sometimes, as Peer Advisor Amy Bovaird’s memoir, Cane Confessions: the Lighter Side to Mobility, a few hearty laughs along the way.

Many Ways to Access a Good Read

If you prefer to use your smartphone, you may like to read the article Reading Apps for Booklovers Who Are Visually Impaired, by Steven Kelley. I am more of a Daisy reader myself. I download titles from Audible; yet, reading his article, I learned there is a whole new world of book reading devices out there to explore.

It is also exciting to learn that you can access your favorite newspapers without needing to use a computer. The National Federation for the Blind (NFB) offers Newsline, a  telephone service through which you dial a Toll Free number and use the number keypad to make your selection of news items. Newline also offers a mobile app.

Join a Virtual Book Club

This is a great solution to staying connected especially during a time of social distancing. Peer advisor Empish Thomas suggests three of her favorite online book clubs that are taking the novel approach to enjoying books and friendship.

  1. Quarantine Book Club
  2. Literary Hub’s Virtual Book
  3. Silent Book Club

A Reading Buddy

Perhaps one of the most rewarding experiences when reading a book is having your own personal narrator in the way of a reading buddy. If you have a close friend or loved one who enjoys the book scene as much as you do, you could suggest spending time in which you both choose a title and they read it to you over the phone or in a quiet garden – of course, with distancing measures for now.

In the past, I have enjoyed hearing memoirs read to me by my partner. The benefit of sharing a book is discovering new titles we wouldn’t have read on our own.

man reading book to woman and her guide dog

One of the bookshelf books available on Audible is the New York Times Best Seller and winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction by Anthony Doerr called All the Light We Cannot See. The protagonist is a young French girl who is blind, and her life is intricately woven with that of a young German boy. I enjoyed this heart-moving story so much that I bought the print copy to share with my partner. So if you will excuse me, he has a book to read to me…

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Reading to Enhance Mental Health and Well–Being

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