We know that our SAIL members love to read! Our SAIL book club has a loyal following, and our members often tell us about books they recommend.
When we started our low-vision support group last year, we learned that a lot of people felt they had to lose their love of reading just because their eyesight wasn’t what it once was. On a trip to the library, members of that group learned that simply wasn’t the case, thanks to large print and audiobooks.
Other things can make reading tough too. Perhaps you are busy with other activities, don’t like to leave the house in the winter on those slippery roads, or simply aren’t sure how to choose in a sea of options!
Below are a few tips for members who are looking for alternative ways to get their book fix!
Audiobooks from the library
SAIL Member Harriet Irwin is a new and loyal audiobook fan! “I go to my local library, and they say, ‘Harriet! We’ve got a new book for you.’ ” As part of the low-vision support group, Harriet was excited to learn about this interesting option. When she learned she suffered from macular degeneration, “I thought my reading days might be over,” she says. “And I had always loved to read.” Luckily, Harriet found audiobooks, and now she listens while she does other activities or simply just to unwind. Harriet visits the Mount Horeb Library and also takes advantage of the Dane County Library Services bookmobile, which comes right by her house.
Audiobooks are exactly what they sound like: Books read aloud, typically by an actor, voice artist, or the book’s author. They can be obtained from the library on CDs or in mp3 format. While there used to be a limit on what books were translated to audiobook format, now almost any title is available as an audiobook. Harriet is thrilled with the selection and believes audiobooks are a true contribution for those who are unable to visually read as they used to.
Audiobooks from an online service
Audible.com, an online service founded in the early 2000s, has a huge variety of books available to download onto various electronic devices. A $14.95 per month membership gets you one free audiobook per month and a lower price on other titles. If you’re a fan of new releases, you can save quite a bit of money with an Audible membership, since new hit audiobooks tend to run $25-$35! Audible also lets you listen to a selection from the book on the site before buying, so you can make sure you like the sound of the reader’s voice. You can also build up your free credits for up to six months.
There are other online services for audiobooks too. You can find a list here. Many will give you a free audiobook when you sign up. You can download the books to your phone, computer, or other electronic devices and enjoy!
If you still love the traditional act of reading but don’t want to go out searching at the library or bookstore, you’re in luck! Amazon Kindle has a gigantic selection of books that you can download through the Kindle app or the above link. Even if you don’t have a Kindle device, you can purchase and download books to your phone, tablet, or computer. E-books allow you to adjust the settings so you can change the size of the text, font, and background in order to make it as readable as possible for you. One great thing about Kindle on Amazon is that they have a variety of classic books available to read for free!
Scribd.com is another great way to find both e-books and audiobooks. Some call it “The Netflix of books.” The selection varies, but you can get e-books, audiobooks, and periodicals on this site. For only $8.99 a month, you can read as many titles as you’d like!
There are a variety of places to get e-books. Check out this page for suggestions!
Madison Public Library can help you check out e-books for four weeks! From the comfort of your couch, you can browse the selection and check out audiobooks, ebooks, music, and videos and view them on most electronic devices. This is definitely a great option if you don’t want to make the commitment to buying a book! You can learn more at their site here. Ask your local librarian for help if you need it!
It can be overwhelming to figure out what books to select in a sea of options. The internet saves the day again here! Goodreads.com is the #1 site for readers to review, discuss, and connect about great books…and it’s free! Accessible through a computer or through a phone app, users start by creating a profile and listing some of their favorite books so that the site can give you recommendations. Users can search for almost any book in existence to see how it was rated, read summaries, and even discuss the book with other members. You can also create a list of titles you want to read, and track what you’re currently reading and what you’ve read. It’s a great way to narrow down what to dive into next!
One thing is for sure: You don’t have to rely on picking up a physical book or even leaving the house to get your reading fix. Audiobooks and e-books are readily available for you to enjoy for free or a low price! SAIL’s Harriet Irwin and her love of audiobooks is a great example of someone who didn’t let anything slow her down!
If you’d like some help getting into the world of audiobooks or e-books, feel free to contact the SAIL office. If you’d like to join our book club, chances are you can find each month’s title through one of the above sources. Check with the office and we can help!
Happy reading (or listening)!