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December 04, 2018

Bibliotherapy : A Librarian’s Favorite Form of Shelf-Help

Bibliotherapy : A Librarian’s Favorite Form of Shelf-Help

By: Julia Welzen

We read The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George as this month’s selection in the book discussion I lead. It’s a lovely book, but the bit that spurred the most conversation was the role of the main character, bookseller Jean Perdu, as a “literary apothecary” providing remedies for ailments of the soul with book recommendations. In one scene, he prescribes Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehogsince it’s “an effective sure in large doses for if-such-and-such-happens-ism,” and it’s “recommended for unacknowledged geniuses, lovers of intellectual films, and people who hate bus drivers.”

Have you heard of bibliotherapy? It’s the idea that reading books can help us understand and process our issues, and some mental health professionals even use this technique with their clients. It’s not a new idea – the term bibliotherapy was coined in 1916 and the idea is much older – and it has been used to help those with issues ranging from garden-variety blues and heartbreak to PTSD and depression. You can even schedule a Skype session with (not medically trained or licensed) bibliotherapist from The School of Life in London, who will write a custom reading “prescription.”

Reading can be much more than entertainment. Through reading, we know we are not alone in our struggles, we empathize, we reflect on our own situations, we vicariously grieve and can experience a catharsis, and sometimes we can begin to craft a new course of action. People in books make the same mistakes we do, laugh at the same crazy situations, they share our struggles, and usually they learn and grow.

While we are not mental health professionals, your librarians are your book experts, and we’ll help you find titles tailored to your preferences. Need something to cheer you up? We’ve got thousands of ‘em: Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, or Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling can help. Injustice of the world getting you down? To Kill A Mockingbirdby Harper Lee, Night Watchby Terry Pratchett, and I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai can energize and inspire you. And that’s just the beginning…

Tell us what you’re looking for next time you come in, and a librarian will make recommendations – just be prepared to answer a few questions about your reading preferences. You can even fill out a request for our My Next Book service – just answer a few questions and you’ll receive hand-picked recommendations from a librarian.

How else can you find the book to help you through life’s highs and lows? Join a book discussion to expand your focus and to train yourself to read more deeply. With discussion comes greater understanding, and you’ll meet some awesome fellow readers! Try NoveList, a database available on our website in which you can customize book searches and find the perfect read.  And then there’s the thousands of blogs and news sites devoted to finding the perfect read, but that’s a whole other blog post. Happy reading!

Link to book discussions: /lets-read/

Link for My Next Book: /my-next-book/

Novelist: https://hepl.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?authtype=ip,url,cpid&custid=s9071331&profile=novplus