Post by Jesse, Information Services staff

Bibliotherapy is a methodology that has been explored in Canadian libraries more recently. It has been more commonly found within UK libraries during the last decade. Bibliotherapy involves the use of books to help people heal social, emotional or personal problems. The practice of reading more mindfully, within all genres, but particularly content that provides educational components about various experiences, is the main element of bibliotherapy.

Literature allows a reader to identify with problems and characters and relate them to their own lives. Readers learn how others deal with frustrations and disappointments, which allows them to gain insight into alternatives they may not have thought of before. Books can help create awareness that other people have similar problems to us. It is not about finding a fiction book that fits your experiences exactly, but more about reading stories that you can connect parts of yourself to, and thinking about what works or does not work for those fictional characters. Non-fiction books can provide information about something you face every day and help you add to your own toolbox, as far as useful supports and strategies. Research on bibliotherapy shows that it can reduce feelings of isolation, and address numerous experiences.

The practice can be done with the assistance of a reading guide individually, but can be particularly useful in group settings, online or in-person, where you can discuss what you read with other people. Typically, these reading materials are put together in a collaboration between library workers and mental health workers.

The Bibliotherapy Collective of Canada’s website contains some reading guides and other resources, though it is still new and is working on establishing more content on the site. The Reading Agency in the UK has Reading Well booklists that can be consulted for ‘bibliotherapeutic’ reads. I have pulled booklists from both sites and cross-referenced our own catalogue to see what titles we have available.


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For suggestions on specific topics, you can send us a request for a surprise bag of books or a list of books with our DiscoveREAD service.

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