Los Angeles Times
A good book is like good medicine. This message comes to us from assorted British health professionals, and was reiterated recently by the U.K.’s leading librarians.
Why take a pill when you can pop open a metaphor? Why sit in line at your doctor’s office when you can be soothed by an uplifting story instead?
In the wake of a study showing that “self-help reading can help people with common mental health conditions,” the Society of Chief Librarians and the nonprofit Reading Agency came up with a list of 27 books to make you feel better (go to readingagency.org.uk/adults/ tips/mood-boosting-books-2012-list.html).
“It is hoped those with ‘mild to moderate’ mental health conditions will try out the idea before turning to prescription drugs — many of which can have unpleasant side effects,” the Daily Mail writes.
Most of the books on the list, however, are not “self-help” books at all, but works of fiction, history and memoir that have strong literary qualities and that are especially hopeful in their portrayal of the human condition.
There is, for example, Bill Bryson’s travelogue through the U.K., Notes From a Small Island, Armistead Maupin’s collection of novels, Tales of the City, and Salman Rushdie’s children’s book Haroun and the Sea of Stories.
Annie Murphy Paul described in the New York Times last year how scientists, using brain scans, have documented the power of evocative descriptions and metaphors on our minds. “Stories, this research is showing, stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life,” Paul wrote, adding even reading a “dark” work can be a liberating experience.
© Copyright 2013