Reading Books For Your Life: Bibliotherapy Helps

Reading books that deal with the issues you’re going through—and talking or journaling about it afterward—can help you get things you need. You can find out you’re not alone; feel understood; discover new ways to work through a problem; or think about your situation in a new light. Books can help you understand yourself—or the people around you—more.

As you read a novel, you may find yourself identifying with a character, and as they work through a problem or express emotion, you may also be able to express or release emotion as well, or find a way to deal with your problem. When we read, we’re not just reading the words—we’re experiencing the story on many levels—emotionally, physically, even on sensory levels. We bring our own experiences to the story, and use them to help the novel become rich and real. And in doing that, books help us work through things.

If there’s an issue that you find hard to talk about, you can give a novel on the subject to someone you care about, and ask them to read it. I’ve had readers tell me they’ve done that with Scars, to help a friend or family member understand about self-harm or sexual abuse. I did it myself many times as a teen, giving books to people on incest when there were things I couldn’t say aloud. You can do it for any issue.

You can find many lists online that deal with all sorts of issues, from bullying to incest, divorce to estrangement, being queer or dealing with an illness. Try typing “bibliotherapy” plus whatever issue you’re wanting to read about in Google. You can also type in the issue into Amazon or other online bookstores, or ask your librarian for suggestions. There are so many great books out there. I also have a lot of books I recommend (found on the right-hand side of my blog, labeled “Cheryl Rainfield’s Recommended Books”, for a lot of issues, including self-harm, sexual abuse, physical abuse, being queer, dealing with death, and many more. They’re just a starting point, but they’re books I recommend.

I hope you’ll search out books that speak to you!

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