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2 minutes reading time (430 words)

Bibliotherapy - A book review by Francesca Baker

Bibliotherapy edited by Sarah McNicol, Liz Brewster

Facet Publishing

In recent years bibliotherapy has hit, if not the mainstream, at least a library or health service near you with programmes such as the Books On Prescription scheme, where self help and advice books are prescribed to support people with certain illnesses or ailments. It’s good recognition of something that people have known for many years –advice, inspiration, education and solace can be found through reading.

This book, edited by Sarah McNicol, a research associate at the Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Liz Brewster, lecturer at Lancaster University’s Medical School, brings together theory and practice in thirteen chapters exploring bibliotherapy. Bibliotherapy draws on theories from a range of disciplines, including medicine, literature, education and psychology, and the first four chapters draw on these to explore the history of the approach, how it works, and how practitioners can make informed decisions. The term bibliotherapy was first used in 1916, but the practice of using words for wellbeing has been happening for many years before. There’s also an exploration of how bibliotherapy works – not just that it does work.

Part two is more practical focused, presenting case studies illustrating how approaches can be used with different settings and a variety of user groups and diverse audiences. This includes communities including those living with HIV/Aids in Johannesburg, underrepresented communities in Midlothian Libraries, Scotand, NHS libraries, homeless and those with mental health difficulties in Australia, and the development and evaluation of Reading Well Books on Prescription.

The book demonstrates the potential of bibliotherapy to support diverse groups of people across a range of settings, and to grow as a field of study and practice. Through chapters that have academic rigour but are accessible to read, written by experts in their various fields, it’s an ideal companion for people both new to the field and those looking for extra support or ideas.


Francesca Baker is a writer, wanderer, and wonderer. She writes for a living as journalist, copywriter and marketer, and heads up Lapidus’ journal and newsletter as our Outreach Specialist. Read more at www.andsoshethinks.co.uk or get in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Saturday, 15 December 2018