It’s time again for another Rest Room Rambles. It has been a while since we’ve done one of these, and I’m excited to open another community discussion thread.
This month, I thought we’d do something a little bit different, given that I know a lot of people here are avid readers, even if it’s something that you may struggle to do because of your symptoms.
Last year, before I moved to Substack, I recorded a podcast episode dedicated to just this topic, that (I think slash hope!) is full of tonnes of useful advice if you need to find ways to adapt your reading life to make it accessible to you.
A few years ago, I’d not only been struggling with the practicalities of reading (a real challenge given how central it was to my life) but I was also in a weird place of transition with my health. I was anxious, I was depressed, I was frustrated. So I treated myself to something I’d always wanted to do - a bibliotherapy session.
If you’ve not heard of it, in bibliotherapy:
“you'll explore your relationship with books so far and your unique readerly identity will be sketched. You will be guided to books that can put their finger on feelings that you may often have had but perhaps never understood so clearly before; books that open new perspectives and re-enchant the world for you.”
It really was like a therapy session…but with a whole lot of books sprinkled in. We talked about the issues I was struggling with as well as my reading life (what I loved, what I hated etc), and soon afterwards I received an email with a “reading prescription”. It was centred around the idea that I was looking for uplifting and immersive reads to help me cope with (or distract me from?) living with chronic illness.
Either way, I wanted books that would transport me away. And it really did help lift some of the fog. If you’re a paid subscriber, you can see what books were recommended to me in a post I shared earlier this year.
Today, I’d like to open up a thread to offer just a little bit of that, and to do so I’ve partnered with my friends over at Listening Books for a bibliotherapy discussion thread.
Listening Books is a charity which provides an audiobook lending service for anyone in the UK whose illness, mental health condition, physical disability, learning disability or learning difficulty makes it more challenging to read or hold a book. Online access to their collection of over 10,000 audiobooks is just £20 a year, with free memberships also available to anyone who would find this fee a barrier to joining. For more information, you can visit www.listening-books.org.uk.
Obviously, we can’t do a full bibliotherapy session for each person, but I thought it might be nice for us to be able to share a little bit about what kind of books/vibes of books we’re looking for and we can recommend a read to each other.
I’ll be in the comments with Emily Pye from Listening Books, but I thought it would be nice if we could also all recommend books to each other too. So if you read a comment where you’re like “I know JUST the book for this person” - please do share!
I think it’d be helpful to share a little bit about what kind of book you’re looking for (perhaps even why) and what you enjoy/don’t enjoy in a book. Obviously, they don’t have to be books about chronic illness - they can (and I think, should) be about anything.
Here are some examples to get you started:
What book would you recommend for someone who likes cold, dark mysteries set in a fantastical world with a romance element?
Can you recommend me a book I might enjoy based on my love for a certain TV series?
What non-fiction books can you recommend to help me manage finances in the cost of living crisis?
Can you recommend any children's books with a disabled protagonist?
So…over to you! What kind of books would you like to discover?