Bill’s Reading Room

My Talking Book machine with an audio cartridge and mailing case.

I’ve been a voracious reader all my life. When I became a writer in my 30s, I depended on my eyesight for reading, plus research, writing and editing.

In 1996, I lost the use of my right eye from wet macular degeneration, but I was still able to read using my “good” left eye and low vision aids.

Then on the morning of August 13, 2001, all that changed. I woke up and couldn’t see out of either eye. That afternoon in my retinal specialist’s office,  I learned I had hemorraghed in my good left eye. It was then I heard the worst news of my life: “My friend, you are now legally blind,” said my doctor. My life, and Sandra’s, had changed dramatically.

Many years later, someone told me about the National Library Service (NLS) at the Library of Congress… a free braille and talking book library service for people with low vision, blindness, or a physical disability that prevents them from reading or holding the printed page. I applied, was accepted, and the NLS sent me a special Talking Book machine to use to listen to audio books on specially-formatted cartridges (see photo above). The NLS sends me a quarterly catalog; I select the books I’m interested in (Sandra reads the catalogs to me), and the NLS delivers the cartridges to me in the mail, postage-free.

This service has probably saved my life – and my mind. It’s now possible for me to continue to “read” (in a manner of speaking) and continue to learn. If you know of someone who may benefit from this service, here is the link for how to apply: https://www.loc.gov/nls/

Following is a short list of some of the books I’ve particularly enjoyed listening to. Most of these titles are probably available from Amazon in a print or ebook edition.

DIGITAL REVOLUTION

THE INTERNET IS NOT THE ANSWER, Andrew Keen

CYBERPHOBIA: Idendity, Trust, Security and the Internet, Edward Lucas

LIGHTS OUT: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Ted Koppel

THE THIRD WAVE: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future, Steve Case

PREDATOR: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution, Richard Whittle

CHAOS MONKEYS: Obscene Fortune & Random Failure in Silicon Valley, Antonio Garcia Martinez

 

WORLD HISTORY & EVENTS

THE IRAN WARS: Spy Games, Bank Battles, and the Secret Deals…, Jay Solomon

THE 100-YEAR MARATHON: China’s…Strategy to…Global Superpower, Michael Pillsbury

THE MAKING OF ASIAN AMERICAN: A History, Erika Lee

VOICES FROM CHERNOBYL: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, Svetlana Alexievich

TO TELL AND BACK: The Last Train from Hiroshima, Charles Pellegrino

 

AMERICAN HISTORY

AVENUE OF SPIES: American Family’s Heroic Resistance in…Paris, Alex Kershaw

BRIDGE OF SPIES: A True Story of the Cold War, Giles Whittell

DEAD WAKE: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, Erik Larson

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, Volume 1, The Early Years, 1994-1933, Blanche Wiesen Cook

EXCEPTIONAL: Why the World Needs a Powerful America, Dick Cheney & Liz Cheney

FIRST LADIES:…the Lives of 45 Iconic American Women, Susan Swain and C-SPAN

FREEDOM’S FORGE: How American Business Produced Victory in WWII, Arthur Herman

GEORGE MARSHALL: A Biography, Debi Unger and Irwin Unger

THE GREAT DIVIDE: The Conflict between Washington and Jefferson, Thomas Fleming

THE GREAT WAR OF OUR TIME: The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism, Michael Morell

PLAYING TO THE EDGE: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror, Michael V. Hayden

THE CASE AGAINST THE SUPREME COURT, Erwin Chemerinsky

THE STRUGGLE FOR SEA POWER: A Naval History of the American Revolution, Sam Willis