Thursday, July 21, 2011

THE LITERARY BLOG HOP July 21-24: Reading Therapy

It's time for The Literary Blog Hop hosted by The Blue Bookcase!

This blog hop is open to blogs that primarily feature book reviews of literary fiction, classic literature, and general literary discussion.

How do I know if my blog qualifies as "literary"? Literature has many definitions, but for our purposes your blog qualifies as "literary" if it focuses primarily on texts with aesthetic merit. In other words, texts that show quality not only in narrative but also in the effect of their language and structure. YA literature may fit into this category, but if your blog focuses primarily on non-literary YA, fantasy, romance, paranormal romance, or chick lit, you may prefer to join the blog hop at Crazy-for-books that is open to book blogs of all kinds.

Instructions for entering the Literary Blog Hop:

1. Grab the code for the Button.

Literary Blog Hop

2. Answer the following prompt on your blog.
(Suggestions for future prompts? Email to them us at

Discuss Bibliotherapy. Do you believe literature can be a viable form of therapy? Is literary writing more or less therapeutic than pop lit or nonfiction?

Yes, I think literature can be usefully incorporated into therapy. Not for everyone or for everything, obviously. Christina addressed very nicely the value of the books that demonstrate to individuals that problems are not unique. Help is out there. But as for how much literature can help troubled individuals (how viable a form of therapy is it?)-- that's not something I feel qualified to discuss. Music therapy, art therapy...all these things have been shown to be useful in certain situations. Literary therapy can be too. But it would have to depend on the person and how they respond to different art forms.

Do I find reading to be therapeutic? Of course it is. I read as a form of escape. Escape from stress, from boredom, from just feeling low. Taking a "time-out" from my world to enter an entirely different world allows me to put things in perspective. (Yeah, things are falling apart, but at least 30-60% of our population is not being wiped out by the Black Death.)

Reading is soothing. A couple years ago my daughter needed some minor surgery. She was as fearful of the anesthesia as she was of the surgery. Crowded in the little pre-op cubicle, we read aloud to her from Tales from Watership Down. She didn't need as much premedication. The time passed more quickly. We were all stressed, but not as stressed.

Is literature more therapeutic than grabbing any old book? I'll go anti-book snob here and say no. Good literature may be better for the mind. In the long run, it gets inside you and is better for the soul. But if you're talking "therapy," it depends on who is doing the reading, what mood they're in, and what they are looking for when they pick up the book.

Literature is often uplifting, but sometimes it can be a real downer. Fluff is forgettable enough, but when you read it, it can bring a smile to your face. Sometimes I don't need to read a book that is improving, I just want a little boost. Reading is therapeutic. It doesn't have to be great literature.


  1. I agree, it doesn't have to be "literary" to be helpful! My response is here:

  2. Your answer is nicely weighed. I think I agree with a lot of what you say.

  3. I definitely think that different readers respond to different types of books and that one isn't more therapeutic than another. I like your example of reading in the waiting room. I know I have been in anxiety producing situations where I used the book in bag as a way to fill the toe-tapping time.

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  4. I think a lot of the therapy of reading comes to us lovers of reading-if one were to take a person who had not read a book for pleasure since they got out of school-more than 1/2 the people of the world-then asking them to read is not therapy for them no matter what it is-the therapy in reading for us comes from an attachment to something outside ourselves and the sheer pleasure of reading beautiful writing-I think painters or lovers of visual art and many other things can respond in a similar way-