Did you know that reading books reduces anxiety?
This method of healing oneself through literature is called bibliotherapy (a combination of the Greek words for therapy and books). Joseph Campbell, the late scholar and mythologist, explained in The Power of Myth that "… in popular novels, the main character is a hero or heroine who has found or done something beyond the normal range of achievement and experience," which creates a more mature and better version of the reader.
Moreover, journalist Bill Moyer notes that everyday people "who may not be heroes in the grand sense of redeeming society" can relate to the protagonist of stories, encouraging them to embark on their own personal journeys. In the non-fiction book Status Anxiety, author Alain de Botton offers a bibliotherapy service which helps encourage emotional healing by matching whatever personal challenges a person is going through with specific literature.
A recent study was conducted in Emory University which proves that reading novels enhances connectivity in the brain as well as improving brain function. Professor Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist and the lead author of the study, shares, "The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist." This means that not only does reading books allow us to escape from our problems, it also increases compassion to our own and other people’s suffering. This is a major aid to self-growth and healing and it helps decrease anxiety and depression.
So ladies, wouldn’t you want to be transported into the bodies of fun and fearless fictional heroines like Elizabeth Bennet (Pride & Prejudice), Jo March (Little Women), and Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)? We know we do. Happy reading, CGs!