12+ 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 in simple-English.
Okay, the books were large and heavy because there were fewer words per page, and they were hardback copies. But having enjoyed the movies, I was just 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. Both books nestled comfortably, eye strain-wise, in what I'd call a normal reading position.
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?
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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, putting on glasses is only a small chore for the large joy of reading!
© 2017 Robert Fairhead
Robert is a writer and editor at Tall And True and blogs on his eponymous website, RobertFairhead.com. He also writes and narrates episodes for the Tall And True Short Reads storytelling podcast, featuring his short stories, blog posts and other writing from Tall And True.
Robert's book reviews and other writing have appeared in print and online media. In 2020, he published his début collection of short stories, Both Sides of the Story. In 2021, Robert published his first twelve short stories for the Furious Fiction writing competition, Twelve Furious Months, and in 2022, his second collection of Furious Fictions, Twelve More Furious Months. And in 2023, he published an anthology of his microfiction, Tall And True Microfiction.
Besides writing, Robert's favourite pastimes include reading, watching Aussie Rules football with his son and walking his dog.
He has also enjoyed a one-night stand as a stand-up comic.