A social media post caught my eye last week in which someone mentioned they had been gifted an appointment with a Bibliotherapist in a book shop. Curious, I started to do some research on google and came across The School of Life bibliotherapy service (see here), where you can book a consultation with a bibliotherapist who will ‘explore your relationship with books so far and your unique reader identity will be sketched.’ Dream job, anyone?
Other sites relating to psychology and therapy go into detail about the more formal practice of Bibliotherapy being used as part of a structured psychiatric treatment where creative storytelling and the selection of specific texts are prescribed. The recognition that writing and books (and other forms of storytelling) can have a positive impact on mental well-being is something I think is so important. In past creative workshops I have often discussed with the groups how writing can give them a voice, and how books can open up worlds and introduce characters that can help them to feel understood, or offer new perspectives, or simply just provide some much needed fun and escapism if they are having a bad day!
A visit to a welcoming bookshop can be just as enjoyable as the experience of reading. At the top of my post is a photograph of one of my all-time favourite bookshops, Shakespeare and Company in Paris. I first visited here back in 2012 on a solo trip to Paris where I stayed around the corner. The bookshop is full of lots of interesting nooks and crannies, including alcoves with typewriters and walls plastered with pinned notes from visitors around the world. During one of my visits a teenage girl played a haunting tune on the piano upstairs and I remember sitting in the room, surrounded by books and strangers and thinking I could stay there forever.
During the summer I have visited some lovely bookshops a bit closer to home, where I’ve enjoyed chatting to the passionate owners and booksellers (about books, and also writing and publishing!)
I am sure they are offering their customers a good dose of Bibliotherapy on a daily basis without even realising.
I’ve posted photos and links to the bookshops below.
What’s your favourite bookshop?
If you can’t visit the bookshops you can still support them online by placing a book order via their page on Bookshop.org: