Could a talking book change your life?

06 December 2013

Pamela Harrington - Cabot Court Bristol

Pamela Harrington, 79, who lives at Cabot Court, McCarthy & Stone’s new development in Bristol, thought she’d never enjoy a book again when she developed macular degeneration and rapidly lost her central vision. Then she made a surprising discovery… audio books.  Here Pamela highlights the joy that these books have brought her.    

Ever since reading Milly-Molly-Mandy (by Joyce Lankester Brisley) as a child, I’ve gained tremendous pleasure from books. Over the years, favourites have included To Kill A Mocking Bird (by Harper Lee) and The Kite Runner (by Khaled Hosseini). I particularly enjoyed reading when I went to bed, nothing takes the day’s thoughts away quite so well as a good book at bedtime.

When I was first diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (the ‘dry’ form), I continued to read as best I could, but about five years ago my sight became worse and I had to put my novels away. I missed reading terribly – listening to TV and radio isn’t the same and for a while I assumed I’d just have to accept it. Then, our lovely librarian Jill, who comes into Cabot Court to deliver books, suggested a talking book.

I have to admit it was a bit odd at first. I found some of the narrators’ voices quite irritating, and I’d get annoyed if the inflection wasn’t perfect. But I’m a sticker (I can’t bear to leave any book unfinished) so I kept going, making notes of the narrators that I preferred because it’s a very personal choice. Gradually I rediscovered the joy of talking books. In fact, I’ve also discovered that a good narrator can actually add a new dimension to the story itself.

Now I can honestly say that talking books are bringing me a lot of pleasure. I’ve even started running a very relaxed book club for residents and non-residents here, where we can all chat about any book we’re currently enjoying. I’m happy to say I’ve got the reading bug again!


Me Before You by JoJo Moyes (, from £3.99)

This wonderful novel makes a great talking book. The story is simple but powerful; Will, a handsome City high flyer is paralysed from the neck down and wants to end his life. Lou Clark is hired by Will's parents to care for him and try to dissuade him from suicide. Despite the serious theme, this wasn't depressing, it was sensitively, beautifully narrated and contains a very sensible message.


If you have a favourite talking book, share it with us in the comment section below.



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