For most people, losing their sight can be a devastating experience, but a charity is showing how blind people can still enjoy literature despite their disability.
Gaywood’s library is one of nine venues which hosts audio book clubs run by the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind (NNAB) at county council libraries.
Dozens of people attend the clubs, whose contribution was celebrated during National Libraries Day on Saturday, each week.
And Mark Smith, NNAB’s leisure co-ordinator, said: “I’m thrilled to see how much pleasure and enjoyment the clubs provide, particularly for visually impaired people in rural areas to visit their local library, meet like minded people, have a cuppa and a stimulating natter.”
Books including D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, The God of All Things by Arundhati Roy and The Breaker by Minette Walters are among the works that club members have tackled during the past year.
Ten CD copies of each title are ordered from a specialist audio book charity, Calibre, for members to listen to and discuss at their monthly meetings.
One of the Gaywood club’s regulars is Krystyna Jenkinson, who lost her sight five years ago and said the club had given her “a reason to get up in the morning.”
She said: “I was always a big reader, but I tended to stick to what I knew I would enjoy. The book club has given me new options. I’m listening to books I would never have dreamed of before and to discuss them with people once a month is wonderful.
“Joining the club has extended my horizons and I meet people with the same disability as me. It’s got me out of a rut.”
The initiative is funded by Norfolk County Council through its library service.
Margaret Wilkinson, the council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “Reading is an important part of so many people’s lives and the audio book clubs provide an opportunity for those with visual impairments to experience and discuss books as if they were reading them from a page.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about the clubs should contact Mr Smith on 01603 629558 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.