The support of Listening Books
When Grace* developed ME five years ago, she found that she was unable to do most of the things she had enjoyed before, and even holding her head up became difficult. Below, she talks about how audiobooks helped her find a way to enjoy stories again.
“When ME/CFS first hit me in 2013 in a matter of weeks I could no longer drive, climb stairs, walk, or hold my own head or body up. I became light sensitive. It was devastating. I had relied on books to give me an escape from my illness before it became so severe, and suddenly they were gone. Everything was gone.
I kept trying to read books, but it took so much energy to turn pages that I couldn’t concentrate. I would lose the thread of the book, even for stories I had read before. I thought I would have to give up books completely.
That’s when I found audiobooks. I am 50 years old, but at first I could only cope with audiobooks that were for primary age children. As my illness has stabilised, I’ve been able to listen to young adult and now even some adult books. I am still mostly lying down resting, and it is often too hard for me to concentrate on the TV, so without audiobooks I’d just be staring at the ceiling.
I like books that take me out of my own world, into a totally different one. They give me a window on other places, other times, and other people. In the past, Terry Pratchett, Georgette Heyer and Agatha Christie have all been my go-to authors when feeling overwhelmed by life, and now I can go back to them again.
However, I couldn’t afford to buy audiobooks, and free options were often pirated or poor quality. At the time, I was trying to claim illness benefits, but even with help it took 6 months to fill in the forms, and then another year before they were granted in full. I think I only had about £35 per week to live on.
A friend told me about Listening Books, and they offered me a free membership for the first year, for which I am eternally grateful. It has helped my mental health, and given my ideas to distract from the pain and distress my illness has caused. ”
Listening Books is a national audiobook charity for anyone who finds that ill health, a disability, learning disability, or mental health condition impacts on their ability to read or hold a book. They offer an online and postal audiobook library of over 7,500 audiobooks that can be borrowed through an app available for most phones and tablets, streamed online, or sent direct through the letterbox on MP3 CD with no postage costs or late fees. Membership starts from only £20 per year, but Listening Books can also provide free memberships for anyone who would find this cost difficult to cover.
For more information on how to become a Listening Books member, please visit the website. You can also email [email protected] or call 020 7407 9417. Do you enjoy reading? Let us know your recommendations in the comments below!
*Name changed for privacy protection.