“Get Over It” With Bibliotherapy

color-purpleAs if you needed another reason to read novels, now there are “therapists” who  will prescribe books to help you get through a rough patch. These “bibliotherapists,” who are not trained professionals, offer services to people who might be struggling with issues such as a career change or a break-up.

I know this because of a Time magazine article, “Read a Novel: It’s Just What the Doctor Ordered,” in the November 7, 2016 issue. Ella Berthoud, an artist, & Susan Elderkin, a novelist, met at Cambridge University where they helped fellow classmates deal with problems by leaving books in brown paper bags outside their dorm room doors.

Now they have clients who fill out a questionnaire about their reading interests & personal challenges & pay $125 to lie on a virtual couch for 50 minutes via phone or Skype. At the end of the session, the therapist “prescribes” books, usually fiction.

Some examples:

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker–for falling out of touch with siblings

Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins–for helping you embrace life

Giovanni’s Room, by James Baldwin–for wishing for a Valentine

The bibliotherapists are capitalizing on something I think a lot of readers have experienced: the healing power of fiction.Let’s hear your thoughts in the Comments.

6 thoughts on ““Get Over It” With Bibliotherapy

  1. Well, this came at exactly the wrong (or maybe the right?) time! We now need someone to tell us what to read? For $125??? I JUST hung up the phone after a call from the pharmacy I use in Maine when I’m there in the summer. The pharmacist who was calling me had no idea that I was 2200 miles away and not likely to use his services again until next June or July, but he had been urged (instructed? required? requested?) to call me since I had not filled my prescription for a while. I suppose, if I look hard enough, I can find someone who (for $125–or maybe more, since it’s health-care related) will help me figure out which pharmacy to call and when to call.

    I’m sorry to rant, but MY GOODNESS! I will NEVER have $125 that I can’t find a better use for. AND I know for a fact that the librarians in my library can put me onto books I’ll enjoy for FREE. Even the bookseller at your local bookstore can direct you to a book you’ll like. One of them, years ago, overcame my skepticism and convinced me that J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book would be a perfect read on the plane ride I was about to take–a kid’s book? No way! But she was absolutely right–and it only cost me $15.00 for the book.

    Sorry to be so forceful here, Leanna (for the second week in a row! I need to be careful or you’ll disallow my comments!!!), but timing is everything, and this was right on the money!

  2. You could add “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George to your list. It is a love story and the hero prescribes for free. It was written a while back.

  3. Wow. That’s just…weird. 🙂 I guess I can imagine the kind of person for whom a service like this would appeal, but I think those people would be few and far between.

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