I ran across this article in Salon (which also has a good continuation of the why men don’t read story—see Stacey’s post) in which the author lauds the therapeutic value of the mystery novel, and goes on to recommend several that she promises to have salutary effects. I’ve always been partial to the notion that a book can be the cure for what ails you (or at the very least, provide an excellent distraction). Years ago, a good friend assembled her own book-based survival guide to break-ups; I can’t recall the precise titles, but I remember that it was a blend of commiseration, distraction, and gritty nonfiction–designed to make her unhappiness pale by comparison. Fortunately, I’ve no present need of such heavy duty meds, but when I’m feeling weary of negotiating contracts or listening to the latest Cassandra prophesying doom for the written word, I reach for a work that reminds me of the joy inherent in a great book. I’ve not quite come up with my own diagnosis-driven reading list, but it seems there are those who have: indeed, there is a whole discipline called “Bibliotherapy,” dedicated to the idea that reading carefully selected books can promote physical and psychological healing—have a look at this Guardian article. Interestingly, the books that the bibliotherapists prescribe are not self-help books per se, but serious novels. For a marvelous hybrid of literature and pop psych, check out Alain de Botton’s How Proust Can Change Your Life.
So my question is this: What books do you use to self-medicate? Won’t you kindly share your prescriptions?