Bibliotherapy: Background information when reading The Story of Arthur Truluv

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Story of Arthur Truluv

A Novel

by Elizabeth Berg

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg X
The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Nov 2017, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2018, 272 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book

Bibliotherapy

This article relates to The Story of Arthur Truluv

Print Review

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg is by many accounts a "feel-good read" – a book that readers say makes them feel upbeat after having finished it. But that raises the question: Can a book truly influence your mood?   It turns out that scientists have long speculated that reading can, in fact, have an impact on one's mental health, and a practice called "bibliotherapy" has arisen around this belief.

Bibliotherapy is defined as the use of books as a treatment for mental or psychological disorders. The idea that books can be beneficial dates back to ancient Greece, where libraries were considered sacred structures with curative powers. The word bibliotherapy was first coined in an article by Samuel McChord Crothers that appeared in the August 1916 edition of the Atlantic Monthly. In it, he describes his friend Bagster's "Bibliopathic Institute" as well as Bagster's opinion that individuals' reaction to literature can be used to guide healing. This idea took firm hold in America beginning in the 1920s, eventually finding its way into medical texts.

During WWI, the Library War Service was formed in the USA to create a national system to collect and distribute books to troops. Between 1917 and 1920, it gave out between seven and ten million books and magazines to service members. Librarians from this service staffed hospitals, wearing specially designed uniforms so that they'd blend in with doctors and nurses. These hospital librarians are often credited with helping to develop the science of bibliography in conjunction with doctors. They were frequently asked by physicians to prescribe a book for a patient – literally; librarians filled out physical prescription slips to be counter-signed by the patient's physician. "Stories are sometimes better than doctors," one wartime librarian noted.



The Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, a well-known reference for medical professionals, officially recognized bibliotherapy as a form of mental health treatment in 1941. The technique gained renewed popularity in the 1950s largely due to the work of Caroline Shrodes, particularly the publication of her paper Bibliotherapy: A Theoretical and Clinical-Experimental Study in 1950; in 1966 the American Library Association published an official definition of the therapy.

In the 1970s Rhea Rubin divided bibliotherapy into two types:  developmental and therapeutic – categories that are still relevant today. Developmental bibliotherapy is used primarily in an educational setting and is geared toward helping children and adolescents with confusing issues such as puberty or other developmental milestones. (Remember Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret?  That novel would be an example of a book that might be used in these types of situations.)

The other type, therapeutic, is a very broad category used to address many different mental health problems and is often employed in conjunction with other types of therapy. According to GoodTherapy.org, "Reading has been shown to be able to help people understand the issues they are experiencing, amplify the effects of other treatment, normalize experiences with mental health concerns and care, and offer hope for positive change. Bibliotherapy can also expedite and intensify the therapeutic process by providing one potential format for therapeutic work outside of session."

Although published research results on the efficacy of bibliotherapy are limited, most professionals agree that reading can help patients achieve better mental health. "One study found children who read the Harry Potter series were more accepting of certain minority groups, and psychologists from the New School for Social Research determined fiction improved a reader's overall ability to discern and interpret emotion in others… Many therapists believe the inclusion of books in treatment increases participation in therapy and can decrease recovery time."

Images of hospital librarian and prescription pad, courtesy of American Library Association Archives

by Kim Kovacs

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Story of Arthur Truluv. It originally ran in November 2017 and has been updated for the July 2018 paperback edition.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Seine
    The Seine
    by Elaine Sciolino
    Of the 24 members who reviewed Elaine Sciolino's The Seine: The River that Made Paris for BookBrowse...
  • Book Jacket: Fireborne
    Fireborne
    by Rosaria Munda
    Inspired by classical political theory and the French Revolution, Rosaria Munda's YA debut Fireborne...
  • Book Jacket: Frankissstein
    Frankissstein
    by Jeanette Winterson
    Jeanette Winterson's futurist sci-fi/alternative history hybrid unfolds in two main timelines. In ...
  • Book Jacket: Unbreakable
    Unbreakable
    by Richard Askwith
    In this well-researched biography, journalist Richard Askwith takes readers on a journey into 1930s ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Seine
    by Elaine Sciolino

    "A soulful, transformative voyage along the body of water that defines the City of Light."
    —Lauren Collins
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Nothing to See Here
    by Kevin Wilson

    A moving and uproarious novel about a woman who finds meaning caring for two children with remarkable abilities.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Wild Game

Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me (Memoir)

A Best of Fall Title from: People, Entertainment Weekly, BuzzFeed, NPR, BBC, and many more!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T Bite T B

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.