Thursday, 25 July 2013


I have just discovered the most beautiful word:

~ Bibliotherapy ~

Bibliotherapy is a form of therapy, useful in the treatment of depression, which uses the written word - be it fiction or non-fiction, poety, or magazine and newspaper articles - to assist a patient in gaining a deeper understanding of the emotional problems they are experiencing. Usually, a patient would participate in a bibliotherapautic program under the guidance of a bibliotherapist who selects the reading material for them and then discusses this material with them afterwards. 

The word itself comes from ancient Greek; the root word 'biblio' meaning book. In English, the word bibliography also derives from the same root, as does bibliomancy (the practice of opening a spiritual text at random and using the words on the page as a means of divination) and another beautiful word, bibliophile, meaning a lover of books.

In several other languages, the word for library also springs from' biblio':

(image courtesy of

Italian, Spanish & Portugesebiblioteca

Romanian bibliotecă

French bibliothèque

Swedish, Norwegian & Danishbibliotek

German bibliothek

Dutch bibliotheek

Polish biblioteka 

If I were a bibliotherapist, these would be some of my recommendations: 


1. Chicken Soup for the Soul (the original). In my second last year of high school, my homeroom teacher would read aloud one of the stories in this book each morning. Each contained a message of hope, inspiration or motivation. It was a beautiful and positive way to start off each day and in doing so, she sent us all off to class feeling a little bit taller and determined to make every moment count.

2. At short Guide to a Happy Life, an essay by Anna Quindlen who, after losing her mother at the age of 19 "learned something enduring in a very short period of time about life. And that was that it was glorious and that you (have) no business taking it for granted."


1. My first thought would be Wally Lamb's  I know This Much is True. A brilliant read from beginning to end, concluding with an unforgettable lesson in forgiveness. 

2. Anything by Alexander McCall Smith simply because, as they say, 'laughter is the best medicine'. 

For children:

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? - a picture book by Carol McCloud, which explains how a person's words and actions directly impact on others. A great tool for promoting positive behaviour and attitude in children.

What about you? Do you like the word bibliotherapy? If you were a bibliotherapist, what book or books would you recommend for someone suffering depression or to encourage positive thoughts in general?

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