What is ‘bibliotherapy’? Bibliotherapy promotes the therapeutic power of literature through the act of shared reading.
‘Reading allows one to enter into another world and thus momentarily escape the circumstances of one’s own existence. However, it also teaches one how to make aesthetic sense of one’s own world, to ‘plot’ one’s own life […] The act of narration moves us from a passive to an active position, from the anxious, perpetually vulnerable position in which events do indeed happen to us without warning to a slightly removed position where even those events, that seem to have happened without warning, acquire a retrospective narrative logic, an ‘aura’ of meaningfulness.’ Sam Durrant,‘Reading Asylum: Tweyambe!’ Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writing 12.2 (2012), 44-56 (pp.44-45).
This blog features information about and creative work by bibliotherapy reading groups — groups which meet for shared reading and discussion as ‘an active way to improve wellbeing, build stronger communities and extend reading pleasure‘ — set up by Dr. Sam Durrant, School of English, University of Leeds. Sam started an experimental group in 2010 in partnership with SOLACE, a charity based in Leeds which supports survivors of persecution.
The success of this group has led to the establishment of other groups. Dr. Rachel Webster, a lecturer at North Lindsey College, currently runs a group every 2nd Thursday (4-5:30 PM) at Leeds Central Library (Calverley Street LS1 3AB).
Dr. Christine Chettle runs a reading group in partnership with Leeds STAR (Student Action for Refugees) on term-time Saturdays (1-3:30 PM) at the Little London Community Centre, Leeds (Oatland Lane, LS7 1SP). A third group, led by Dr. Helen Kingstone (Post-doctoral Research Associate at Leeds Trinity) and April Geers (School of English PhD student), runs in conjunction with the Compton Road Library (Harehills Lane LS9 7BG) in Harehills, Leeds, on Wednesdays (5-6:30 PM). A fourth group, led by Ruth Daly (School of English PhD student), has just been started in conjunction with Armley Library (2 Stocks Hill, Armley LS12 1UQ) on Tuesdays (4-5:30 PM).