At a time when many of us are discovering the price we’ve had to pay for constant electronic connection, as a culture we are also rediscovering the slow reward brought on by reading a book. Some mental health experts even have a name for it: Bibliotherapy. Because it turns out that, along with everything else it does, reading a book is good for what ails you. From Stylist:
Reading a book is one of life’s biggest joys, but could it also be a way of coping with the difficult times in life, from bereavement to relationship problems?
Dr Paula Byrne certainly believes so. She is an author and founder of ReLit, a charity which promotes bibliotherapy for mental health. She and her colleagues run workshops in schools, prisons and halfway houses and they have a week-long bibliotherapy summer school coming up in August which is open to all.
“Bibliotherapy, quite simply, is about books as therapy. It’s not meant to take the place of medicine, but it can complement it,” says Dr Byrne. “It’s actually a reinvention of a traditional idea. The ancient Greeks used poetry as therapy and Queen Victoria drew comfort from the works of Alfred Lord Tennyson when her husband, Prince Albert, died.
“Books can take you to a different place. They can relax, calm, they can offer wisdom, or humour, or both.”
And for a really strong argument for unplugging, see a bit of the fabulous Manoush Zomorodi’s (Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self) TED Talk on boredom is below.