A free Library of Congress resource got me through tough times

Books stackedOn Wednesday we published a post I wrote about an accomodation that doesn’t work so well for me — how about today I write about one that does?!

When doctors told me I might lose my sight completely, my main concern was how I’d survive without being able to read. Library of Congress Talking Book Program to the rescue. My eyes were patched while I was in the hospital recovering from eye surgeries, and a social worker brought in a big plastic box, the size — and weight — of a Chicago phone book. “A special tape recorder,” she explained. “They’re free, from the Library of Congress.”

That tape recorder saved my life.

The Library of Congress provided me with free books on tape in the hospital. Listening to books was my escape from the medical tests, the pain, all the bad news.

In the end, the surgeries didn’t work. I lugged the Library of Congress tape recorder from the hospital with me and arranged to have books on tape mailed to me at home. Had it not been for audio books, I might have given up completely.

Thirty years later, I am a blogger, a teacher and a published author. I get around Chicago with the help of a lovable Seeing Eye dog. I’m happily married, and Mike and I are the proud parents of a 28-year-old grown son.

But I still need an escape every once in a while. That over-sized tape recorder from the Library of Congress has been replaced by a digital device the size of a candy bar. I download books rather than waiting for cassettes in the mail, and these days (thanks to all of you sighted people who listen to audio books now, too!) books are available in audio versions the same time they’re published in print.

I listen to books while I fold laundry, unload the dishwasher, and travel by train to the presentations I give. My digital device slips easily under my pillow to read me to sleep at night, too.

I read more books now than I did when I could see. Talking books saved my life 30 years ago, and I still rely on them to keep me amused, alert and alive.

What outlet helped you get through some tough times? Share with is in the comments below.


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  1. Adrienne Harps Says:

    Need o submit a receipt for reimbursement of Senior Care respite services. Please provide information for where I can submit the receipt.