Cures For Melancholy

Too Old To Read?

Obviously a stupid question: You’re Never Too Old To Read!!! However, the wear and tear on the aging body does make even small, everyday activities difficult, let alone reading.

Despite having a stroke almost twenty years ago, my brain still seems to be functioning with only the occasional brain fart or a deep dive into memory-loss. However, my eyes required over eighteen months of intense therapy before they could focus sufficiently to read or drive or get a spoonful of mashed potatoes into the center of my open mouth. Even today I find it easier to read with one eye closed.

Also, I need several tissues on hand since both my eyes dribble salty tears even though it’s not my party.


What do I do, especially with all those bookshelves full to overflowing? Well, first thing I did was look for a good magnifying glass. My go-to today is a very large but fairly cheap round glass from Amazon. I’ve experimented with fresnel lens, lit magnifying boxes, high power reading bars, hands-free stand magnifiers, and the like but the plain old magnifying glass is a good compromise between cost, power, and convenience. Which is not to say that reading with a magnifying glass is convenient or fun (three hands would make it easier).

As an adjunct to the magnifying glass, I discovered I could read books, first on my ancient Palm Pilot and later on my Apple computer. Nowadays I read most of my titles on either an Apple iPad or an Apple iPhone. Although the ability to enlarge the text is a life saver, I actually realized that the sharpness of the screen is the key to readability.

I have replaced hundreds of my ink and paper books with digital versions and get newer titles from various online sources. My go-to digital reader is Marvin 3 with Calibre being used to perform digital conversions and to maintain a useful data repository for digital books. Proprietary books are stored and read from various vendor products: Nook, Kindle, Apple Books, etc. Luckily the required readers (software) for each of these providers is free and readily available.

As my eyes are aging fast—harder to focus, obscured by tears—I have been resorting to reading the text at the same time I listen to the text via the excellent speech mechanisms inherent in Mac OS, iPad OS, and IOS. Marvin 3 also provides an internal means to attach speech to the text. I find the combination of enlarged text, automatic page turns, and digital speech, keeps me reading.


In fact, I seem to be reading more nowadays than I ever did before. Reasons? Well, there is the fact that CoVid-19 has had me in lockdown for several months and for more months in the future. Retirement, lockdown, and the advantages of digital media seem to be doing the job. Not to be maudlin, I also feel a need to read as much as I can, catching up on all those titles I have been putting off for years. Time is running out. Hark! Do I hear the banshee?

I have lots of Dickens (James, Zola, Balzac, Elliot, Dumas, Collins, Gaskell, Chekov, Vollmann, Rabelais, Mann, Powys) begging to be read but traditionally I will only claim victory when I finally read The Anatomy of Melancholy.

One thought on “Cures For Melancholy

  1. Dude, sorry about the eyes. I am a little younger than you and mostly have achy joints. Thanks for not being a crybaby about stuff though, and keep going.


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