Bibliotherapy is the use of selected texts and excerpts to lift the mood. I never realised until recently that you can actually get training in it, like, be a qualified bibliotherapist. I thought that just came automatically with being a worker in a bookshop.
I think we all have our go-to texts that lift our moods and keep us from falling too low. I know I do, with books that I could read and reread again and again for different reasons. Some books I love the story, others it’s the setting that grabs me, with others yet there are just passages that I long to crawl into and stay inside. At Christmas time especially I find that old favourites assume a place of importance that perhaps is obscured in daily life by the call of the new and novel novel.
Perhaps the season sets us up for nostalgia, or perhaps our souls seek a simpler way of living that we find in the pages of books rather than reality. Perhaps we live in a less than ideal life and find soulmates in characters that exist only in our imagination. Whatever. I know that there is something about the month, and the weeks surrounding Christmas, that call me back to revisit my favourite scenes. Here (in no particular order) are a few of my favourites:
The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe: only the first part, with snow deep on the ground, Mr Tumnus providing a fireside supper and the sound of bells bringing joy. Mr Tumnus and the Beavers both have hygge sorted, and C S Lewis’s descriptions of the houses are so appealing.
The Harvester by Gene Stratton Porter: There is a description of the Christmas Box that The Harvester makes for the Girl that is brilliantly beautiful. I’m a sucker for a cedar chest anyway, and this one has everything I need for Christmas as well!
What Katy Did at School by Susan Coolidge: If you have ever read the second book in the Katy series, you know the scene I’m thinking of! Again, a description of a Christmas box that would make anybody proud.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey: It’s like a fairy tale but for grown ups, a couple in Alaska wish for a daughter and the Snow Child comes. There’s nothing madly Christmas in this book, but the descriptions of snow make this a hibernal read for me. And there’s great power in wishes if you believe…
The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden: Talking of wishes, this is the book about wishes for children. I read this with my daughter every Christmas Eve. “This is a story about wishing,” says the first page, and then goes on to say, “It is also about a doll and a little girl. It begins with the doll.” My daughter is 15 this year and I wondered if we had reached the end… but she came to me and asked if we were reading it again this year. 15 is not to old to be read to. We are never too old to be read to. I wish someone would make a short film of it, but I fear children today have lost the power of wishing, or the belief in it, except at Christmas of course, when everybody remembers how powerful a wish can be.
The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse: A ghost story set in the hills of Southern France, and we all need a ghost story at Christmas, don’t we? I have read this one and really enjoyed it, although I see there’s also a collection of short stories called The Mistletoe Bride, which I haven’t read yet. We have a short break planned between Christmas and New Year with no proper TV available. I wonder if a ghost story a night would be a good replacement?
It’s a sure bet that at some time over Christmas I will read part of or all of one of these. I’ll probably also read my Christmas Hygge book, just to make sure I got the feeling right.
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