Home » meditations » Bibliotherapy

Bibliotherapy

The Last Bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles

There is no question in my mind that reading books can be a form of therapy. Not all books, but certainly those that make you think. Some books could be the opposite of therapeutic, like anything by Ayn Rand or Donald J. Trump.

I read incessantly. Only when I am ill do I not pick up a book. Since September 1998, I have read 2,750 books, ranging from literary classics to poetry to philosophy to history to travel.

Beginning in 1975, the year of my first real vacation (in Yucatán, Mexico), I decided to prepare several months in advance by reading books about my destination. They included archaeology, history, fiction, and descriptions of journeys. That way, when I finally reached my destination, I was there as a person who knew all sorts of things about where he was. That made me feel good about traveling. I didn’t feel like an ignorant interloper.

The therapeutic aspect was there, too. I came to the conclusion that the best philosophy books were written by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus had more to say about the human condition than the vast majority of academic philosophers, whose works were by and large unreadable. And it didn’t involve swallowing a whole lot of dogma administered by organized religion.

If you were to read the four dialogues of Plato about the death of Socrates (Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, and Phaedo), you will have read the greatest works of Western Philosophy ever written.

Also worth considering are some of the Hindu, Taoist, and Buddhist texts, such as The Bhagavad Gita, The Tao Te Ching, and the literature of Zen Buddhism. They taught me that desire is always accompanied by suffering. The less one desires, the happier one is. And happiness is not a lasting thing: It goes into hiding and manifests itself only at irregular intervals.

Now if I can only declare my book purchases as medical expenses….

4 thoughts on “Bibliotherapy

  1. Long before Tarnmoor discovered that books have therapeutic effect, Thomas Carlyle identified it and said some books are to be tasted, some to be swallowed and there are others to be chewed and digested.
    How True!
    There are books that give soporific effect.That’s also medicine for insomnia.

  2. Thoroughly enjoyable insight! This made me instantly feel like grabbing a book. Today having two train trips, and one book. I think it’s all it takes to get started.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.