Religion & Spirituality
Life & Faith: By The Book
Can books be a cure for the common cold?
Can a novel help us navigate a midlifecrisis?
Can reading be a remedy for a broken heart?
These are just some of the questions that bibliotherapyclaims to be able to answer. Whatever your ailment may be, there’s a novel – ortwo – that will supposedly provide temporary relief of your symptoms.
The first instance of bibliotherapy wasrecorded in an Atlantic Monthly articlepublished in 1916. The author writes about bumping into an old friend, Bagster,who has set up the Bibliopathic Institute. Bagster welcomes clients into hisoffice in the basement of his church, and prescribes books to heal a variety ofailments.
In the article, Bagster says:
“Bibliotherapy is such a new science thatit is no wonder that there are many erroneous opinions as to the actual effect whichany particular book may have. …
A book may be a stimulant or a sedative oran irritant or a soporific. The point is that it must do something to you, andyou ought to know what it is.”This episode of Life and Faith explores thetherapeutic and perhaps even salvific qualities of books, in response to the“Bibliotherapy” theme of the 2016 Sydney Writers’ Festival.
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