A recent article by Catherine Hong for Real Simple magazine focused on the value of reading books for mental well-being – not a new concept – but bibliotherapy is often ignored or under appreciated. Getting lost in fiction has always been my preferred form of therapy, and I was happy to read the studies Hong provided supporting how reading a good book could “help people become happier and healthier, not to mention more emotionally attuned to others.”
In one of my favorite books, The Little Paris Bookshop, the owner has an uncanny talent to evaluate his customers’ problems (including doubt, disappointment, and fears) and prescribe exactly the right book to shake them out of their gloom – everyone’s except his own. He believes in the healing properties of fiction and romance. Being in southern France only adds to the cure.
In Hong’s article she asks other writers for books they use for bibliotherapy. Among the recommendations are a book of poetry, an examination of a classic, and a puzzle mystery for middle schoolers.
- Look by Somaz Sharif: Anglie Cruz, the author of Dominica, suggests poetry for soothing the soul. In Somaz Sharif’s Look, the reader is engaged with how language is used for and against us. “It’s a good book to read now as we face unbearable loss.”
- Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler: Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Book of Longings, suggests this book to transport you to the Yorkshire moors and save you from being “burned out at work or simply in need of creative kindling”
- The Westing Game by Ellen Rasling: Julie Grames, author of Stella Fortuna, recommends this middle-grade mystery novel to inspire you to be a better human being…”
You might write yourself a prescription for reading a book to take you out of your doldrums. My go-to authors are Jane Gardam, Kent Haruf, and Jeffrey Archer to whisk me away somewhere else and immerse me in someone’s else’s life, but I keep looking for more. What books do you recommend for bibliotherapy?
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