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Guest blog: Listening Books

For people with disabilities or ill health, who find it difficult or impossible to read text, hold a book or turn pages, listening to audiobooks can help relieve pain and stress


Whether it’s discovering a new classic for the first time or revisiting an old favourite, reading can have a huge influence on us.

Would I be the same person without the Harry Potter series, or Jane Eyre, or even The Little Book of Hygge? Well, I certainly wouldn’t drink as much hot chocolate. But what happens if you struggle to read a text due to pain, anxiety or difficulty concentrating?

This is where Listening Books comes in. We are a charity that provides an audiobook library service to over 50,000 members with an illness, disability, learning difficulty or mental health issue that makes it difficult or impossible to read text, hold a book, or turn its pages.

We know that books can help relieve the stress involved with chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia and we want to ensure you can still access them.

Like many who have been diagnosed with a chronic illness, Jan Evans* found it difficult to adjust - but found that audiobooks helped.

She says: "Imagine doing a challenging, but enjoyable job over many years, and then finding you can do very little. At 32 I found myself struggling to shower, dress, and even sitting doing nothing was exhausting. Listening to books helped me to get through those tough early years […] They helped me see something outside my home and gave me ideas to think about […] The problems have improved, but not gone away, 17 years later. Now I still need to lay down in the dark for about four hours during the day and books help me take the rest I desperately need."

The Listening Books Service

Our audiobooks are available in three easily accessible formats - MP3 CDs, streaming and audiobook library.

Our MP3 CDs are delivered directly through the letterbox and there are no postage costs or late fees, so you can listen for as long as you like!

Our online service features streaming that lets you access titles direct through our website, or you can download audiobooks to a portable device like a tablet or phone to listen to while you’re on-the-go.

Our library has over 7,000 fiction and non-fiction titles from bestselling authors, including Neil Gaiman, James Patterson and Margaret Atwood, so there’s something for everyone!

Membership doesn’t just provide you with access to audiobooks: our newsletter features interviews with authors such as Bill Bryson, Alan Bennett and Jacqueline Wilson, as well as reviews of our newest audiobooks and regular competitions!

Membership costs

Membership starts from as little as £20 per year.

We also provide free memberships to anyone who would find the usual membership fee a barrier to joining the service, so if you’d like to join, all you have to do is contact us!

Getting Started

For more information, please visit our Listening Books website.

Alternatively, you can contact Jo Cord at email: or telephone: 020 7407 9417 to find out how to sign up for a membership.

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

Date of publication: April 2017