Reading for Wellness

Reading for Wellness Course from the University of Warwick

Next month I am starting an online course from the University of Warwick through Future Learn called Literature and Depression: Reading for Wellbeing.

This is a subject I have always been interested in, and while I don’t suffer greatly from depression, having an autoimmune disease that often makes me extremely fatigued means that reading  is a great solace to me, because it gives me the ability to rest my body while I engage my mind (podcasts are also great!).

Even more importantly, reading the right book or poem at the right time can offer  a great sense of wonder, which is definitely what makes me enjoy living and helps me make the most of every day.  I should preface the phrase ‘right book at the right time’ by saying that I mean the right book at the right time for me.  Everyone’s reading needs and desires are different, and my perfect leisure reading or reading for solace will not be the same as someone else’s.  We all have different reading paths.

I am excited to learn more about reading that may offer comfort, however, and I am looking forward to learning about some famous readers and what peace they found.  I hope that this course will help me expand my bibliotherapy offering in future and it will definitely help me with Readers Advisory at the library.

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A Perfect Weekend at the Mudgee Readers Festival

Mudgee Library

Hotel Review - Perfect Boutique Stay at the Mudgee Homestead Guest House

Mudgee Readers Festival 2017

I was lucky enough to be invited to be an expert reader at the Mudgee Readers Festival in August.  It was a gorgeously mild weekend for winter, and I had a great time running some readers advisory training for Midwestern-Regional Council staff at Mudgee Library, doing one-on-one Bibliotherapy Sessions with readers (where we workshopped for each reader what they might like to read next), and facilitating a panel discussion about Better Living Through Books.

Mudgee is one of my favourite towns in Australia, and I can’t deny the fact that I spent pretty much the entire festival coming up with schemes for how I could move there.  It was great to meet some of the Mudgee locals at the opening night festivities, during the Bibliotherapy Sessions on Saturday and at Rant, a fantastic storytelling event held at the Mudgee Brewing Company on Saturday night.

There was also time to squeeze in some tastings at several of Mudgee’s vineyards, and a gorgeous dinner at Pipeclay Pumphouse on Friday night.  As always, when we go to Mudgee, we stayed with Sean and Karen at the Mudgee Homestead Guesthouse.

I can’t wait to head back to Mudgee for the festival next year!

What is Bibliotherapy?

ways to read more

There can be an amazing solace in reading the right book at the right time, and bibliotherapy is both a formal and informal way to help readers find the stories or information they need during significant moments in their lives.

In a formal sense, bibliotherapy is a clinical practice that encourages healing through reading and reflection. Expressive therapies like bibliotherapy use the arts and value creative and imaginative processes as paths to healing. By carefully selecting reading materials that may help a client understand or solve an issue that they may be facing at a particular time, bibliotherapy practitioners offer options for personal reflection, assessment and growth.

In a more informal sense, bibliotherapy is what many of us do whenever we are feeling unsettled, sad, or confused. We reach for a read from our comfort shelf – the books that remind us who we are, and that reinforce our sense of self. New reading can also enrich our lives, providing us with much needed insight and inspiration.

Reading specialists like myself love nothing better than matching the right book with the right person at the right time. Not all readers are the same, and when helping someone work out what to read next, I like to understand the reader – what they like to read and why, and what they don’t like to read and why. I also like to understand if the reader is seeking a new perspective, revitalisation or a renewed sense of wonder, or comfort.

It’s also important to recognise that everyone’s reading choices are valid. There’s no point being snobby about what people read, and we all read for different reasons. I do like helping people read outside their comfort zones from time to time, however, and this is one of the fun challenges you face as a reading specialist or amateur bibliotherapist.

In an informal bibliotheraphy session, I might have a friendly conversation with you, and ask you some questions about your reading and where you are in your life. I may give you some instant recommendations on what to read next, and I may follow up with some suggestions by email after a bit of research or reflection. Because I’m not a psychologist or counsellor, I can’t help you with serious issues that may come up in our conversations, but I do have a great list of services staffed by professional and caring people that I can refer you to.

I’m an ‘expert reader’ at The Mudgee Readers’ Festival in August, in beautiful rural NSW. If you will be in Mudgee during the festival and are interested in having a one-on-one or small group conversation with me about reading, you can book in for a 15 minute bibliotherapy session on Saturday 12 August at Warbehr Design.  These sessions are free, but you must email info@mudgeereaders.com to book your 15 minute slot.

For the Full Festival Program, visit The Mudgee Readers’ Festival website.  The Festival runs from Thursday 10 August to Sunday 13 August, 2017.

What is Bibliotherapy, How can you lead a better life through books, and what should you read next?