Tag Archives: bibliotherapy

Thoughts on Bibliotherapy

Ever since I stumbled upon the concept of bibliotherapy, I have been fascinated by it.

But what exactly is bibliotherapy? The use of books as a balm for our souls has been around for a very long time. But now some therapists are using books in their practice as a support for other forms of therapy. Targeted bibliotherapy may be useful in issues such as anxiety and depression, substance abuse, and eating disorders. You can read more about it in this article. Watch the video below for some suggestions about books to help children with depression.

Susan Elderkin and Ella Berthoud started offering the first bibliotherapy service in 2008 through the “School of Life”. They even wrote a book called “The Novel Cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies”.

The authors of “The Novel Cure” state “Our belief in the effectiveness of fiction as the purest and best form of bibliotherapy is based on our own experience with patients and bolstered by an avalanche of anecdotal evidence.” There are a wide range of topics covered in the book. There are suggestions for books to help you with less serious ailments such as burning the dinner, “coffee, can’t find a decent cup of”, hiccups, itchy teeth, and Monday morning feeling. But the authors also address some more serious issues, such as anxiety, “death, fear of”, and “drugs, doing too many”. As well, there are several top ten lists, such as “The ten best novels for when you’ve got a cold”, “The ten best novels to cheer you up”, and lists for every age, such as “The ten best novels for the over one hundreds”. For an example of five book suggestions contained in “The Novel Cure”, click here.

Although it is now popular to use books as therapy in medical settings, many people have been using books informally to cure what ails them for a long time.

So what books do you use?

I find that if I am feeling down, I reach for self-help or spiritual books. For example, a book I recently found in a little library, “Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy” by Sarah Ban Breathnach, has indeed been very comforting. Every day has a reading on creativity and spirituality, and I find that often the reading of the day has at least one nugget of wisdom that helps with a current challenge in my life. One line from today: “…worst of all, we close our hearts so we won’t get hurt, when opening is the only way we’ll know joy.”

I also find a lot of comfort in books about nature. I recently discovered Diana Beresford-Kroeger, an Irish Botanist, who is now living in Canada. I like Beresford-Kroeger’s approach: yes, the earth is in trouble, but there are everyday steps we can take to improve our situation. I am currently reading “The Sweetness of a Simple Life”, and only 1/4 of the way into the book, I have learned  (among other things) how to take better care of my joints, the best diet to follow if someone is trying to stop smoking (not that I smoke, but I know people who do), and all about “marriage menopause”. The chapters are all bite sized and easy to comprehend. Best of all, she gives me hope.

Watch the video below, about the importance of garlic and onions, for an example of what’s in the book.

I’d love to hear what books you consider are bibliotherapy for yourself.

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2019 Linda Schueler


What’s on your Bookshelves?

In this fascinating article about books and their impact on our lives, the author notes: “Seeing someone’s books offers a glimpse of who they are and what they value. It also makes for good ice-breaker conversation. Some people like to snoop through medicine cabinets, but that only gives you insight into a person’s physical well-being. The books tell a tale about the person’s mind.”

After reading the article, I decided that I would examine some of my bookshelves and see what they said about me. Most of my books are scattered everywhere, with no real order to them, but there are a few with themes to them. It’s obvious I love guided journals, judging by the corner of one shelf they hold. I also have another two shelves of picture books, reflecting my efforts to write one myself. And I have more than one bookshelf that holds my writing books.

I took pictures of some of my other bookshelves.

This shelf holds a tiny selection of some of the books that have been significant to me over the years. I have had many of them for a very long time, and I still keep them, even though I haven’t read any of them for a while.

This shelf has titles that are newer to me, and some of them I haven’t read (half of them actually, the ones on the left. The two on the very left are old ones my mom had read, and which I am loathe to let go.) Do you also love having unread books on your bookshelves, savouring the anticipation?

On this shelf, most of the books are ones that I have partially read. Some of them I am nibbling in bits and pieces, and others I have temporarily put to the side, to be taken up at a different time. That is, except for the “Phoebe and her Unicorn” books on the left, which make me laugh out loud and are just as good as “Calvin and Hobbes”. They are worth rereading any time you are feeling blue. Or anytime at all actually.

This is just a snapshot, as I have many other bookshelves I could show you. What do these books say about me? Well, let’s see, I have several books about grief, several set in different cultures, three memoirs, some books about spirituality, a book about trees, and some children’s books. What do you think that says about me? I can tell you that grief certainly has touched my life, especially surrounding my parents’ deaths, and books helped me cope. Also, I am always trying to find out more about my mom, as she died when I was fairly young. One of my favourite things to do is to travel, and if I can’t be travelling, then at least I can be reading about life in other cultures. I am certainly curious about other peoples’ lives. Although I don’t belong to an organized religion, spirituality is an important part of my life. I love to be out in nature. Finally, I still enjoy reading children’s books, and I often think I have a childlike sense of curiosity.

This shelf is in my daughter’s room, and on it is some of my favourites I kept for her, hoping that she would read them. She has read the first three of the “Anne of Green Gables” series; in fact, I read the first one to her, which was a bit of a mouthful, but which I still thoroughly enjoyed doing. “Charlotte’s Web” is a book that she read at school, and she has read the graphic novel version of “A Wrinkle in Time”. The rest will have to wait until she is a little older. My daughter actually attempted to read “Pride and Prejudice”, which surprised me, but admitted that it was too challenging for her age.

So do you have an ideal shelf? Mine would be a combination of some of the books you see in the pictures, with a few additions, such as “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and “The Artist’s Way”. Perhaps I should actually make a shelf with just my favourite books. It would be comforting in times of trouble to look at them, I think, a form of “bibliotherapy”.

So what’s on your bookshelves? I’d love if you’d leave me a comment.

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2019 Linda Schueler