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Although World Book Day focuses on encouraging young people to read, for some older people, particularly those who are immobile or housebound, their fondest escape from the confinement of their home is through reading.
Our Home Library Services help older people to access other worlds and keeps minds active through reading. Volunteers across the country visit people in their own homes taking with them a selection of books. Often they are the only friendly face that a person will see in their own home and their visits give older people something to look forward to.
"The added bonus of reading is that it is both a solo and communal activity. You can read alone anytime any place you want (there aren’t many activities you can do in the bath or on the toilet that you can discuss openly). There is a real joy in sharing books with others – whether it’s making and receiving suggestions for good reads, discussing characters and sharing new information gained. Chatting about what Miss Marple (or Christian Grey!) has been up to with a friend can truly lift your day."
There is a comfort that people find in revisiting a familiar world; reconnecting with their childhood through the magical worlds of Narnia and Oz can bring peace, joy and stimulation in equal measures. Reading is a great way to keep the mind active; you can learn new skills, visit historical places or solve murders alongside your favourite detective from the comfort of your armchair.
So, as children all over the country are sent to school dressed as their favourite characters, here’s our reading list of books with inspiring older characters or authors:
- Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner
Follow heroine, Edith, on her travels to a hotel in Switzerland where she meets a glamourous older woman along with other guests.
- Miss Garnet's Angel by Salley Vickers
Meet Julia, a retired school teacher, as she visits Venice and falls in love for the first time.
- A slight trick of the mind by Mitch Cullin
Catch up with Sherlock Holmes in his 93rd year as he revisits a case.
- Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor
Join Mrs Palfrey and the fellow guests of the Claremont Hotel as they fight off their twin enemies: boredom and the Grim Reaper.
- The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
This story revolves around Iris, 82, as she reflects on her life.
- Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Harper Lee’s sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, published when she was 88-years-old.
- The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg
Join 79-year-old Martha and her four oldest friends as they rebel on the rules imposed upon them.
- The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81 by J. B. Morrison
Follow Frank, 81, as he meets Home Help, Kerry, who reminds him that there is a world and adventures waiting outside his flat.
- The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
Meet Allan on his one-hundredth birthday as he makes his getaway and reveals his earlier life through his escapades.
Got a book for our list? Comment below or join us on Facebook and Twitter with your suggestions.
Interested in adding to your book collection? Find out how to raise money while you shop at no additional cost to you.
Would you like to bring smiles to older people? Find out more about volunteering. Or if you know an older person who needs support, read about getting help.
Sharon Skinner is the Home Library Service Manager in Cornwall and would like to thank her colleagues for their inspiration for this blog.