Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Medicinal Benefits of a Good Book

As I mentioned on the last 'Sunday Snippet', for the last week I have been having trouble with a stubborn ear infection. Even though I'm not the sort of person to dwell on pain too much, there have been times when I have felt a bit sorry for myself. I have not wanted to do much, but pick up a book and read. Although the symptoms haven't gone away, the act of reading has helped my mind focus on something else, meaning that the discomfort has been easier to bear.

It is not the first time that books have helped me to overcome pain and discomfort. In the past whilst recovering from operations, I would read books and listen to audiobooks in hospital. I found that the act of reading not only relieved my boredom, but some of the pain as well.

Recently my friend Aguja (who writes the 'Wordstitcher' blog) read 'The Pillars of the Earth' by Ken Follett in just 2 weeks, because she had a toothache and said that reading helped to keep her mind off the pain.

So instead of antibiotics, maybe the health service could prescribe patients a dose of reading to aid recovery? Perhaps doctors could prescribe a certain length of novel, depending on how long the patient needs to recover for? For example, a patient with a wound or illness that will take a long time to heal, could be prescribed a lengthy novel such as 'The Pillars Of The Earth' . Or a child with chickenpox could be given the 'Harry Potter' books, to stop them from scratching?

These are probably silly examples, but I do believe that the act of reading and a positive mental attitude, have a real effect on pain management and aid a swift recovery.

Do you think there are health benefits to reading whilst recovering from illness or do you think that this is nonsense? Have books helped you in times of discomfort or pain?


  1. Defo! But then you know that already. Great post, both beneficial and amusing.

  2. YES!! The one I can heartily recommend is A Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine - so gripping it even works when you semi-remember the story because you have used the medicine before!

    Hope you feel properly better soon.

  3. I would have gone completely nuts suffering from chronic fatigue if I hadn't had books to keep me company and lift my spirits. I recommend Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafield to anyone who's sick because it's so gentle and it just makes you smile.

  4. My passion for reading as an adult began when I was laid up in bed with a slipped disc in my back.

    I was bedridden for 2 wks and a friend brought me a bag of books. Not my choice, but loved the 2 Dan Brown books she lent me.

    The books certainly took my mind off the pain.
    Nowadays books are medicinal for stress and the blues :)


  5. P.s
    Just re-read my misleading comment.
    I DID read as a child but once I got out to work and had a family, crafting took over as my hobby. Reading became my only hobby with the back injury.
    It wasn't the first time I started to read LOL

    Hope you feel better very soon.


  6. Thank for all the comments and to Deborah and litlove for your book recommendations. I will add those to my book wishlist!

    It is evident that books haven't just helped me to combat pain. Maybe there should be a scheme in hospitals, to encourage reading as a form of recovery therapy? They could maybe introduce book groups in hospital wards. This would help recovery and also help patients interact with each. What do you think?

  7. My dad is a doctor and he believes in the self-healing powers of the body, a lot of things really get better when you just leave them alone. But your mindset is so important, if you want that to happen, you cannot be depressed, etc. So reading a book that takes you to a happier place and occupies your mind with thoughts other than "This hurts, I hate this!" is probably a really great idea!

  8. Thanks for the comment Blue. It's really interesting to read that there is definitely something beneficial with reading whilst recovering from illness etc.

  9. Books are not only medicinal but therapeutic as well. I heard a snippet on the radio the other day called The Book Therapist where people can call or write in with certain emotional issues and the therapist will recommend novels that might help a person through a difficult time. It was really interesting!

  10. That sounds a really interesting programme Trish. Where is this programme broadcast? It would be interesting to listen to this. Thanks for your comment.