Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Personal Healing Found in Reading
There are different reasons to read such as enjoyment, relaxing, and education. A book that has been out for a number of years, Reading to Heal, by Jacqueline Stanley adds to the reasons by showing how reading can help us in overcoming personal problems and inner healing. She rightly points out that bibliotherapy is not for everyone and in various cases should be overseen by a professional counselor.
In her Forward she is open about her love of books from her early childhood. She proceeded to bring out how some of the reading she did was for her personal growth before she ever heard of the word “Bibliotherapy”. As I read the book I assumed she was a professional writer or a librarian or possibly a English professor. I was surprised to find she is an attorney in North Carolina. She has made use of her writing skills in a number of books on legal issues.
I can see how a counselor can gain insight into bibliotherapy by reading over her book suggestions to help their clients. Yet when I look at her overall purpose it is to look at what she calls the art side of bibliotherapy. She wants to help readers to be their own therapists by understanding the positives of reading that can build up and improve their lives. This is seen in her stating the many ways that reading helps us:
Reading builds up a feeling of accomplishment
Reading builds up feelings that you are not alone in your problem
Reading builds up a bulwark against boredom
Reading builds up an outward focus in understanding others
Reading builds up our critical thinking skills to overcome problems
Reading can build up personal self-worth
An important thought about bibliotherapy reading versus reading for mere pleasure, is that bibliotherapy reading is more reflective. For the most part you will be reading the book in short segments to give you time to let the ideas sink in. I have had several people who have read my book, Living More Than OK, state they went through it slowly. That is also why I recommend in my book to make use of a journal or diary in reading through it to write down personal reflection thoughts. Jacqueline Stanley reminds her readers to ask questions as they read through books they are using for bibliotherapy. Writing notes in the book is another helpful idea she provides.
One of the best parts of the book is her reading plan idea. I won’t give it fully away so as to encourage you to find her book at a library or on line and read it yourself. The idea is to start with a short book on a topic and divide the page numbers by 21. For example let’s say you find a book with 200 pages and divide that by 21. You would have a little over 9 pages to read a day. That is very doable. Then in 21 days you have the book read. She gives a wide variety of book suggestions on topics such as Simplify, Chronic Illness, Family Matters, Stress, and other topics. Or simply go to your local public library and use the catalog to search for topics on growth areas you wish to read to improve your life.
Now as we are in Spring and moving towards Summer think of reading as enjoyment of course. Know as well that there is healing and growth to be had in the pages of books. You just need to dedicate a portion of your time each week to reap rewards of personal growth in the areas you desire to grow into for living a more than ok life!
“All that mankind has done, thought, gained or been: it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books.” Thomas Carlyle
Reflection -- What is one growth area of your life that you would like to improve through reading? Search online or at your local library for books in that particular growth area.