I don’t know about you, but I love this idea. Certain moods call for certain books, and I for one always feel better after a bit of reading. But first of all, in case it bears mentioning:
Nevertheless, in the spirit of bibliotherapy, may I present my extremely unqualified “prescriptions” for books to cure what ails you. Enjoy!
When you are feeling overwhelmed:
The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery. Soothe your jangled nerves with a fairy tale story of a woman finding the strength to live her life to the fullest. Bonus points for exceptionally beautiful nature descriptions.
When you don’t have enough whimsy in your life:
Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton. Picture a Jane Austen-style romance in high society, but all the characters are dragons. Yes, you read that correctly. Now go read the book.
When your pets are too demanding:
When Fox is a Thousand by Larissa Lai. Your cat might be needy, but hey, at least she can’t shapeshift into human form to cause mischief. This book is lyrical and complex, and weaves Chinese mythology together with queer narratives and 1990s Vancouver culture.
When you are worried about reintegrating into society post-COVID:
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. The Mortmain family are living outside of society for very different reasons, in a crumbling castle ruin in rural England in the 1930s. This book is equal parts charming, funny, and poignant, and you will fall in love with the characters. They may even inspire you to think that human connection isn’t so bad, after all.
When you are feeling blue:
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. A gorgeous book that will assure you that you are not alone.
Alternatively, you might wish to lighten your mood instead. If so, I recommend picking up a copy of Thus Was Adonis Murdered by Sarah Caudwell. This is a laugh-out-loud murder mystery, and a fun read from start to finish.
When you are feeling bored:
This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. A book that warrants a full post, which I will be writing soon! 100% spectacular, with gloriously depicted strands of multiple timelines and the most amazing love story between two rival time-traveling agents.
When you are grieving:
Hardboiled and Hard Luck by Banana Yoshimoto. It’s pretty safe to say that you can pick up any Banana Yoshimoto book to comfort you in your grief. She writes on this theme in a light but still deeply felt way. This book contains two novellas, each of them depicting grieving characters with an empathetic and ultimately hopeful touch.
When you are lonely:
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. A chilling novel that might convince you that you are better off alone anyway.
When you’re not sure what to do next:
A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit. Wonderfully introspective musings on life, the colour blue, history, culture, and the uses of the unknown.
I hope you enjoyed this foray into bibliotherapy! Feel free to share your book prescriptions in the comments. I’d love to hear them!