By Audrey Demmitt, R.N. and VisionAware Peer Advisor

Reading As a Healing Experience

Most of us become readers at an early age and discover the wonders of a good story. We learn to interact with books in order to learn and grow. Characters come alive to us as we relate to their experiences. Sometimes reading is for pleasure or escape, and other times it is for the disciplined acquisition of information. No matter what, our engagement with literature and the written word has the potential to change us, calm us, inform us, inspire us, and heal us. In its simplest form, this is known as bibliotherapy.

The National Library Service Talking Book digital player

Exposure to books, poetry, writing, and even film and videos can be therapeutic and beneficial in helping us process our own life experiences. In other words, literature can be used to help us figure life out, heal emotional traumas, and change thoughts and behaviors. Reading can be a healing experience and, fortunately, there are many ways that you can access books today, including the talking book program through the National Library Service.

Reading Books About Blindness

As I was learning to adjust to vision loss, I was drawn to read books about blindness and books written by authors who were blind. I found it very helpful and motivating to enter the narratives of others who were sharing their own stories of vision loss. Some books were informational, some humorous, and others deeply moving.

I realized that the cumulative effect was that I understood more about blindness, and my feelings about it were changing. Reading books on blindness, memoirs, and biographies of blind writers have had a very positive influence on my ability to adjust and cope with vision loss. It has long been understood that literature “heals the soul.” The use of bibliotherapy has evolved and become quite complex as it is applied to psychiatry and healthcare. Consider a bit of reading therapy for yourself as a way to deal with vision loss.

picture of accessible mp3 player

Here at VisionAware, the Peer Advisors have put together a reading list of books for this purpose. It is not exhaustive by any means, but it is meant to get you started. Most of these titles are available through the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) in audio or braille formats. Newer titles are not yet available through the NLS. Many are available on e-book formats through your favorite booksellers (Kindle, Nook, etc.). Another way to find such books on blindness is to search the NLS collection using “blindness” as a keyword. Whether you are using your eyes, ears, or fingers to read, may it be a rewarding and therapeutic experience.

Books on Blindness

  1. A Brush with Darkness: Learning to Paint After Losing My Sight by Lisa Fittipaldi – NLS
  2. A Guide Dog Goes to School by Elizabeth Simpson Smith – NLS
  3. A Matter of Dignity: Changing the Lives of the Disabled by Andrew Potok – NLS
  4. A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler by Jason Roberts – NLS
  5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  6. And There Was Light: Autobiography of Jacques Lusseyran, Blind Hero of the French Resistance by Jacques Lusseyran – NLS
  7. As I See It: From a Blind Man’s Perspective by Robert Branco – NLS
  8. Beyond the Bear: How I Learned to Live and Love Again After Being Blinded by a Bear by Dan Bigley – NLS
  9. Beyond the Miracle Worker: The Remarkable Life of Anne Sullivan Macy and Her Extraordinary Friendship with Helen Keller by  Kim E. Nielsen10. Blind: A Memoir by Belo Cipriani – BARD
  10. Blind: A Novel by Rachel DeWoskin – NLS
  11. Blind Courage by Bill Irwin – NLS
  12. Blind Fate by Pierre Nubar – NLS
  13. Blind Justice by Floyd W. Matson – NLS
  14. Blind Sighted by Peter Moore – NLS
  15. Blind Tom by Geneva H. Southhall – NLS
  16. Blind Vision: The Neuroscience of Visual Impairment by Zaira Cattaneo – NLS
  17. Blindness by José Saramago, Giovanni Pontiero (Translator)
  18. Blindness for Beginners by Maribel Steel
  19. Blindness: What It Is, What It Does, and How to Live with It by Thomas Carroll – NLS
  20. Brother Ray: Ray Charles’ Own Story by Ray Charles – NLS
  21. Cane Confessions: The Lighter Side to Mobility by Amy Bovaird
  22. Cockeyed: A Memoir by Ryan Knighton – e-book, NLS
  23. Coping with Vision Loss: Maximizing What You Can See and Do by Bill Chapman – NLS
  24. Coping with Vision Loss: Understanding the Psychological, Social, and Spiritual Effects by Cheri Colby Langdell
  25. Crashing Through: A True Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See by Robert Kurson – NLS
  26. Do You Dream in Color? by Laurie Rubin – NLS
  27. Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening by Stephen Kuusisto – NLS
  28. Focus by Ingrid Ricks – e-book
  29. Follow Your Dog by Ann Chiappetta–e-book and print
  30. For the Benefit of Those Who See: Dispatches from the World of the Blind by Rosemary Mahoney – NLS
  31. Going Blind: A Memoir by Mara Faulkner – NLS
  32. Hanni and Beth: Safe & Sound by Beth Finke
  33. Harnessing Courage: Overcoming Adversity Through Grit and Gratitude by Laura Bratton
  34. Helen Keller: A Life  by  Dorothy Herrmann
  35. How Do You Do It Blind? Answers from People with Blindness and Visual Impairment by Steven Obremski
  36. How Do You Kiss a Blind Girl by Sally Wagner – NLS
  37. If You Could See What I Hear by Tom Sullivan – NLS, available as DVD film
  38. In Dog We Trust: Independence, Thrills, and Dignity with My Seeing Eye Dogs by Sue W. Martin – Bookshare
  39. Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life by Mary Hiland
  40. Invisible: A Memoir eBook by Hugues de Montalembert
  41. Lessons I Learned in the Dark by Jennifer Rothschildby – NLS
  42. Living on the Edge of Twilight by Doug Green – e-book
  43. Long Time, No See Memoir by Beth Finke – NLS
  44. Look Up, Move Forward: My Journey of Losing Vision and Finding Resilience by Becky Andrews
  45. Making Life More Livable by Maureen Duffy – new edition available through APH Press; older edition on NLS
  46. Me and My RP by Dave Steele–Kindle and large print
  47. Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith by Amy Bovaird – e-book
  48. Not Fade Away by Rebecca Alexander
  49. Now I See You: A Memoir by Nicole C. Kear – e-book
  50. Only Bread, Only Light: Poems by Stephen Kuusisto – NLS
  51. Orchid of the Bayou: A Deaf Woman Faces Blindness by Cathryn Carroll
  52. Ordinary Daylight: Portrait of an Artist Going Blind by Andrew Potok – e-book, NLS cassette
  53. Out of Sight: Blind and Doing All Right by Art Schreiber – NLS
  54. Out of the Corner of My Eye: Living with Vision Loss in Later Life by Nicolette Pernot
  55. Out of the Whirlpool: A Memoir of Remorse and Reconciliation by Sue Martin – e-book, NLS
  56. Planet of the Blind by Stephen Kuusisto – NLS
  57. ROCKS: The Blind Guy at the Lake by Thomas P. Costello – Amazon print, The Carroll Center Books on Blindness
  58. Scattered Shadows: A Memoir of Blindness and Vision by John Howard Griffin – NLS
  59. Seeing Lessons: 14 Life Lessons I Have Learned Along the Way by Tom Sullivan – NLS
  60. Self-Esteem and Adjusting with Blindness: The Process of Responding to Life’s Demands by Dean and Naomi Tuttle – NLS
  61. Shades of Darkness: A Black Soldier’s Journey Through Vietnam, Blindness and Back by George Brummell – NLS
  62. She Touched the World: Laura Bridgman, Deaf-Blind Pioneerby  Sally Hobart
  63. Teacher: Anne Sullivan Macy By Helen Keller
  64. The Adversity Advantage by Erik Weihenmayer and Paul G. Stoltzby – e-book,NLS
  65. The Barefoot Lawyer: A Blind Man’s Fight for Justice and Freedom in China by Chen Guangcheng – NLS
  66. The Blind Blogger’s NYC Adventures by Maxwell Ivey Jr
  67. The Blind Blogger’s First Speaking and Signing Adventures : + How You Can Conquer Your Fears by Maxwell Ivey Jr
  68. The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living by Mary Hiland, caregiver who is blind–Kindle.
  69. The Music of Silence: A Memoir by Andrea Bocelli – NLS
  70. The Story of My Life  eBook by Helen Keller
  71. The Unseen Minority: A Social History of Blindness in America by Frances A. Koestler – NLS
  72. The View from Under the Pew by Diane Winters Johnson, Margaret Freed (Illustrator)
  73. The Way We See It: A Fresh Look at Vision Loss – e-book available at Vision Loss Resources
  74. Things No Longer There: A Memoir of Losing Sight and Finding Vision by Susan Krieger
  75. Thoughts on Blindness: One Spouse’s Perspective on Losing Vision and Living Life by Becky LeBlanc – The Carroll Center Books on Blindness
  76. Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero by Michael Hingson – NLS
  77. Together: A Story of Shared Vision by Tom Sullivan – NLS
  78. Touching the Rock: An Experience of Blindness by John Hull – NLS
  79. Touch the Top of the World by Erik Weihenmayer – e-book, NLS
  80. Undaunted by Blindness: Concise Biographies of 400 People Who Refused to Let Visual Impairment Define Them by Clifford Olstrom, Perkins School for the Blind – NLS
  81. Upwelling by Ann Chiappetta–e-book and print
  82. Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems by Lynda McKinney Lambert–e-book, Kindle, print
  83. What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness by Candia McWilliam – NLS
  84. Who Lost? The Autobiography of a Blind Man with Great Vision by Dale Sheldon – NLS
  85. When You Can’t Believe Your Eyes: Vision Loss and Personal Recovery by Hannah Fairburn

Note: New books will be added to this list periodically.