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How reading can make you feel better

And the real power of books

As I read Sarah Ditum‘s article in one of my favourite magazine (In The Moment), I was reminded about the therapeutic power of reading and how books can make you feel better.

New Dimensions

Truth be told: I am a slow reader.

But while this could be an issue when reading for research or study purposes, I think it’s a blessing when reading for pleasure, be it fiction or non-fiction novels.

Each word takes its time: it’s absorbed, sunk in, felt.

I am part of the story, I notice each character’s traits.

Each book opens a completely new dimension.

Some say it’s escapism, I say it’s more than that. It’s curiosity, creativity and discovering a new world with the eyes of a child, where each page you turn brings you new possibilities.

Developing empathy

As I kept reading, I learnt that a 2013 study shows a link between reading fiction and the ability to imagine other people mental states, i.e. empathy.

As a kid and until now, many fiction and non-fiction characters have moved me so much that they’ve left their mark on me.

Sometimes and long after I’ve read a book, I catch myself thinking of the plot, twists or characters whenever I am going through a time that reminds me of what I felt while reading.

A beloved book, entwined with our lives, can anchor us in difficult times or become a sail, drawing us forward.

Many times, knowing that someone else in the world went through the same thing as me made me feel I wasn’t alone and brought me comfort. If someone else managed to go through it, why couldn’t I?

As Charles William Elliot says:

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends, they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.

Bibliotherapy

The definition of bibliotherapy has evolved over time. In its more basic form, bibliotherapy uses books to aid people in solving the issues that they may be facing at a particular time in their life.

While the word bibliotherapy has been creating a buzz recently and getting more media coverage, the ancient Greeks posted signs above library doors, informing readers that they were entering a healing place for the soul.

I had friends “prescribing” me books when I was heart broken. And I take self-prescription seriously: I read many book reviews online to help me pick the best book. The one that will have the most meaning to me.

No doubt bibliotherapy is becoming popular. Have you tried it?

Originally published at fiorenzarossini.com

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