It’s true. I’ve suspected it all along. Bibliotherapy, reading a good novel, improves mood, function, and overall well-being.
I have to admit, I never knew that bibliotherapy truly existed, as a practice, until I read a recent article about it yet I’d been a patient of its methods for years. Perhaps you have too.
Book doctors don’t require a license. Instead, their literary prowess takes precedence.
Imagine being handed a prescription to read The Old Man and the Sea to overcome stress or Mrs. Dalloway for depression. I know Donna Tarrt’s Goldfinch gave me a kick in the pants.
A novel cure, huh? Wait. That title is already taken. For a list of top contenders to read for a variety of ailments, check out The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You. It’s authored by bibliotherapist Susan Elderkin and Ella Berthoud. It might be worth a read, so say a 2015 NPR article.
Bibliotherapy Could Be For You.
Readers and Writers Wanted!
As a fiction author, one can only dream that their stories make medicine. You can’t try to make them helpful; readers (and bibliotherapists) just have to find them so. You can’t smash an idea over a reader’s head. Note, self-help books are not in the bibliotherapist’s medicine chest. While some bibliotherapists confess to prescribing an occasional non-fiction piece, the primary treatment is a novel.
Of course, if someone is seriously depressed they should seek medical help. Let’s face it, reading The Unbearable Lightness Of Being or Frankel’s Man’s Search for Meaning can’t hurt. A survey by the Library of Congress in 1991 asked readers to name a “book that made a difference in your life.” Frankel’s Man’s Search for Meaning made the top ten. Granted this is a memoir—one of those non-fiction pieces that makes its way to the bibliotherapist’s notepad.
What’s on your bookshelf? What would your bibliotherapy recommendation be?