Throughout the pandemic, many of us have turned to a variety of distractions to help ease emotional suffering and, for those who contracted COVID-19, physical suffering. Some have found comfort in streaming new shows and movies, others have reinvested in exercise, while others have turned to baking and other comfort foods. But when Geoff Woolf became gravely ill and hospitalized with the virus his sons, Nicky and Sam, remembered something their father had told them some time ago, that “if he was in hospital for a long time, he would be able to deal if he had a book.” To that end, they loaded an e-reader with Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” — “his comfort read,” according to Sam — and played it for their unconscious father.
In late July, after many months and nearly succumbing to COVID several times, Geoff was discharged from Whittington Hospital, workers applauding as he was wheeled out of the ward en route to a specialized neurological hospital where his recovery continues. Out of this experience was born a larger project, Books for Dad.
Mr. Woolf’s sons recruited volunteers who loaded e-readers, donated by Audible, with a variety of content and delivered them, disinfected, with single use headphones, and individually bagged, to the hospital treating their father. They were soon were distributing dozens more to other hospitals around the U.K. and, from this, Books for Dad has kept growing with the intent to distribute 5,000 e-readers to British hospitals over the next six months and add books for children and young adults to their content.