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

  • 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 article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. 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 $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    by Patrick Ness
    Patrick Ness has developed a reputation for experimental literature executed well, and his latest, ...
  • Book Jacket: Let It Bang
    Let It Bang
    by RJ Young
    Every interracial love story is an exercise in complications. R.J. Young and Lizzie Stafford's ...
  • Book Jacket: A Spark of Light
    A Spark of Light
    by Jodi Picoult
    The central premise of A Spark of Light involves a gunman holding hostages within the confines of a ...
  • Book Jacket: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
    An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
    by Hank Green
    As one half of the extremely popular YouTube duo "Vlogbrothers" (the other half being his brother ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Unsheltered
by Barbara Kingsolver

A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Kinship of Secrets
    by Eugenia Kim

    Two sisters grow up bound by family but separated by war; inspired by a true story.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    A Ladder to the Sky
    by John Boyne

    A seductive, unputdownable psychodrama following one brilliant, ruthless man.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Severance

Severance by Ling Ma

An offbeat, wryly funny, apocalyptic satire that is featured on more than twenty 2018 "Must Read" lists!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Ain't O U T F L S

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 books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.