The Pleasures of Reading a Book

I held a printed copy of a book and read the entire thing. Although I triggered a migraine every time I read, reading felt so good. Was it worth it, especially considering most books I want to read are available as audiobooks?

I used to believe audiobooks were a good replacement. Then I tried to listen to them regularly and  discovered how inadequate they are. Reading a book captures me in a way listening can’t. I don’t get distracted by every little thing. I don’t have to get up and pause for interruptions, nor do I have to rewind to find what I missed. I don’t get bored.

Most importantly, I get absorbed reading a book. I imagine the characters, identify with them and let my imagination go. I just don’t do that with audiobooks. Listening doesn’t engage me in the same way. Turns out getting absorbed is a primary reason I love to read.

After the great pleasure of reading that book, I’ve returned to listening. Turns out holding and reading a book isn’t worth the pain. This makes me so sad. How will I ever write a novel if I can’t read books (or look at the computer!)?

13 thoughts on “The Pleasures of Reading a Book”

  1. my name is jennifer.My twin sister is named jill. we lived in a flooded apartment for 2 years, even though they said it was safe to move back in. that was our mistake. my sister slept in the living room and started having bad headaches. now…9 years later..after the health department told us in their own words..get the hell out of here, her migraines wont stop. all of her senses are magnified. her sense of smell isout of control. JUst as you, the smell of perfume for just a minute, and the rest of the day is shot:( She can not read either…just one page and her headaches get worse! she cant drive at night because the lights cause excrutiating pain:( Does anyone have an answer..a pill to fix this. DO you take anything that helps? please email me at name is jen

  2. I am so sorry to hear that reading triggers your migraines, Kerrie. I have the same with the computer. I do a lot of research and scholarship and find that that odors from paper and ink really bother me. (I have hypersensitive sense of smell, too.) I use a honeycomb carbon filter mask for reading sometimes and it really helps. I am wondering, if there’s any odor component at all to your reading-related migraines, could a mask help reduce the trigger load enough to help a little?

    I’m writing a novel longhand (seemed to work pretty well for Dickens, Austen, the Brontës…) and typing it into the computer a bit at a time, so am sending you all good wishes for your own writing, more power to you and thanks for this awesome blog!

  3. I used to read constantly, and you are right the audiobooks are not the same, I used to read a book a week but, now my headaches have got me down to about 1 every month or two. It really stinks because books were an absolute passion for me but, I just can’t take the headache that starts after a couple of chapters or so.

  4. Kerrie,
    I am so sorry that reading gives you a migraine. I can read and often it is the only thing I can do as it provides focus for me when my Daily head is bad but not yet a Migraine.
    Love the Blog

  5. I’m considering taking up reading Braille, just for all the times I want to read but can’t deal with light and focusing on things.

    I never considered that. Great idea!


  6. Hi Kerrie,

    I remember the days when reading a book or riding in a car would start the merry-go-round..first the vertigo then the nausea then the headache.

    Have you ever had VER (visual evoked response) testing? If positive it kind of points the way to certain treatments that might help.

    I am amazed that you can do all you do with this blog!

  7. Kerrie I have all the same issues with audio-books that you do. My three ADHD family members love them. They are masters of split focus – auditory stimulation helps them focus on another task and they actually take in what they hear at the same time. My Migraine brain starts to break down the minute I even suggest it focus on 2 things at a time!

    I hope some of Janet’s suggestions help you. Did any of your eyecare/visual focus explorations help? I don’t know that anything can really take the place of good old books.


  8. I like your daily headache blog. Your post about reading really strikes a cord with me. I also love to read, especially right before going to bed because it is very relaxing. Reading taking you to another place, and doesn’t cost you a cent in travel!!.- NJ

  9. This saddens me, Kerrie. But I know you’ll find a way. Maybe dictation is the only method you can manage right now, or maybe your book gets written in very small increments. But somehow, you’ll write it. And I can’t wait to read it!

  10. You will write your novel the same way you write this blog – a little at a time. Keep plugging away at it. A sweater begins with just one stitch, any knitter can tell you that. Well, a book begins with one page.

  11. I used to be an avid reader. Like you Kerrie, I would lose myself in a book, forget all of my worries and let my imagination take over. I also used to be an avid cross-stitcher which I think I miss more than reading. Both hobbies I have all but given up because they both trigger migraines. Only on a good pain day can I even begin to think about picking either one up knowing full well that it will put an end to my good pain day. I have enough pain without compounding the problem.

    It was hard to give them up and even harder to accept.


  12. Oh, Kerrie! I can’t imagine my life without reading. I’m so sorry that reading books is a trigger for you. Have you tried using those lovely lap desks that hold your book open for you with soft elastic bands? (A friend of mine with rheumatoid arthritis uses one and sings its praises.) Have you found if large-print books (or books read with a magnetizing sheet over them) are easier on you?

    I want to help you find a solution!!

    I haven’t heard of using a magnetizing sheet. I’ll definitely look into it — and all your suggestions. Thanks for your help!


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