After watching the movie versions of Their Finest by Lissa Evans and The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman, I was pleased to track down the books in my local library. The librarian, however, quizzed me with an arched eyebrow, “They are large print editions, is that okay?” It felt like she was telling me the books were simple-English editions!

Okay, they were large and heavy because there were fewer words per page, and they were hardback copies, but I enjoyed the movies and was happy to have found the books.  “I’ll be right,” I said and handed over my library card.

Where did I put my glasses?

I wear glasses for watching TV, driving and any middle-distance viewing, and I should wear glasses for reading and close up work — but I don’t. Like many middle-aged people, I find it a chore to continually change my glasses: distance, prescription sunglasses, reading glasses.

Not to mention having to take them all off, so people one metre away from me are not a blur. This often leads to the classic question: Where did I put my glasses!?

And the truth is, I can read perfectly well without glasses if I move the book a bit further away from me, say half a metre or so.

So it was a pleasant surprise when I started reading the large print editions of Their Finest and The Zookeeper’s Wife and discovered I didn’t need to move the books away from me: They nestled comfortably, eye strain-wise, in what I’d call a normal reading position.

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Better bedtime reading!

And I found I could read for longer. Usually, after ten to fifteen minutes of reading in bed, my eyes get a little tired, and sometimes I wake to find the book resting on my face. Not so with the large print editions (fortunately!). It was a joy to read whole chapters and sometimes two or more before succumbing to sleep.

It was a reading experience I hadn’t enjoyed for many years; it was like I’d sipped from the Fountain of Youth — perhaps I should have analysed my bedside glass of water?

Admittedly, when I finished reading Their Finest and The Zookeeper’s Wife and returned them to the library, it was a shock to pick up a normal-sized print book again. I tossed around the idea of loaning more large print editions from the library, but I’ve got such a pile of bedside books to get through, I decided the better option was to wear my glasses.

After all, finding and putting on glasses is only a small chore for the large joy of reading!

© 2018 Robert Fairhead

N.B. See this earlier blog post for my review of Their Finest by Lissa Evans (November 2017). And speaking of libraries, here’s a post on My Favourite Libraries (December 2017).

This post was proofread by Grammarly


Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of Robert Fairhead. A writer and editor at the Tall And True writers' website, Robert also writes and narrates episodes for the Tall And True Short Reads podcast. In addition, his book reviews and other writing have appeared in print and online media, and he's published several collections of short stories. Please see Robert's profile for further details.


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