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Region 5 Blog March 1st, 2024
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Feb

02

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Announcing NNLM Reading Club February 2023: Eyes & Vision

Posted by on February 2nd, 2023 Posted in: Consumer Health, Health Literacy, Public Health, Public Libraries
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February is Low Vision Month. “You’re either kind of a super blind person or you’re kind of on the other end of the spectrum, kind of a pitiable blind person, and a lot of what I try and do in the book is kind of looking at the middle, you know, the vast middle ground of most of us who are just living our lives, you know, as mothers and people who work and teach and all those sorts of things.” – M. Leona Godin, author of February featured book “There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural history of Blindness” from Blind Abilities podcast

This February, we turn our attention to the importance of learning more about Eyes and Vision. Our selections for this month highlight three books that each approach the subject in different but connected ways. Godin writes about the history of blindness in Western culture, as well as in her life. Haben Girma is a Deafblind woman and a human rights lawyer advancing disability justice. She gives us a memoir of her story of navigating blindness and her struggles, as well as achievements along the way in “Haben.” Zoe Thorogood delivers a graphic novel, “The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott” that depicts the protagonist’s experience of learning more about blindness and its impact on her art, as well as her life. Our curations this month highlight how the eye works, eye exams, eye conditions and diseases, as well as health observances throughout the year that highlight eyes and vision health. We also included reliable health information resources available from the National Institutes of Health.

For information on each of our three featured books, free downloadable book club discussion guides, customizable promotional materials and more, visit https://nnlm.gov/nnlm-reading-club/eyes-vision.

  • Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law, a memoir by Haben Girma, takes readers on adventures around the world: from Eritrea and Ethiopia to building a school under the scorching Saharan sun to training with a guide dog in New Jersey, climbing an iceberg in Alaska, fighting for blind readers at a courthouse in Vermont, and talking with President Obama at The White House. Warm, funny, thoughtful, and uplifting, this captivating book is a testament to Haben’s determination to resist isolation and find the keys to connection.
  • The graphic novel The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott by Zoe Thorogood tells the story of Billie Scott, an artist. Her debut gallery exhibition opens in a few months. Within the fortnight she’ll be completely blind. As Billie struggles to deal with her impending blindness, she sets off on a journey from Middlesbrough to London; into a world of post-austerity Britain and the problems facing those left behind. Her goal is to find ten people to paint for her exhibition, as well as the inspiration to continue with her art, and the strength to move on with her life.
  • There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural History of Blindness by M Leona Godin is a probing, witty, and deeply insightful history of blindness–in Western culture and literature, and in the author’s own experience–that ranges from Homer to Milton to Braille to Stevie Wonder. M. Leona Godin begins her fascinating, wide-ranging study with an exploration of how the idea of sight is inextricably linked with knowledge and understanding; how “blindness” has, for millennia, been used as a metaphor for ignorance; and how, in metaphorical terms, blindness can also be made to suggest a door to artistic or spiritual transcendence. And she makes clear how all of this has obscured the reality of blindness, as a consequence of which many blind people have to deal not just with their disability but also with expectations of “specialness.” Godin illuminates the often surprising history of both the physiological condition and of the ideas that have attached to it. She incorporates analysis of blindness in art and literature (from King Lear to Star Wars) and in culture (assumptions of the blind as pure and magically wise) with the science of blindness and key developments in accessibility (the white cane, seeing eye dogs, eBooks), and with her own experience of gradually losing sight over the course of three decades. Altogether, she gives us a revelation of the centrality of blindness and vision to humanity’s understanding of itself and the world.