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Can Reading Make You Happier?

Can Reading Make You Happier?
Several years ago, I was given as a gift a remote session with a bibliotherapist at the London headquarters of the School of Life, which offers innovative courses to help people deal with the daily emotional challenges of existence. I have to admit that at first I didn’t really like the idea of being given a reading “prescription.” I’ve generally preferred to mimic Virginia Woolf’s passionate commitment to serendipity in my personal reading discoveries, delighting not only in the books themselves but in the randomly meaningful nature of how I came upon them (on the bus after a breakup, in a backpackers’ hostel in Damascus, or in the dark library stacks at graduate school, while browsing instead of studying). But the session was a gift, and I found myself unexpectedly enjoying the initial questionnaire about my reading habits that the bibliotherapist, Ella Berthoud, sent me. Bibliotherapy is a very broad term for the ancient practice of encouraging reading for therapeutic effect.

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Sydney Review of Books Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín Picador 320pp $29.99AU Published October, 2014 ISBN 9781743532195 It is amusing to think of Colm Tóibín and Jeffrey Eugenides being ticked off over dinner with art historians at Princeton University for, on the one hand, regurgitating social realist novels for middle-class consumers, while on the other daring to speak the ‘holy’ avant garde name of Samuel Beckett. Tóibín has told this anecdote with a degree of relish, convinced as he is, through his exhaustive reading and, in particular, his study of the exquisite dissections of Henry James, that an outwardly provocative style is not his thing.

A Curriculum Staple: Reading Aloud to Teens Dana Johansen, a teacher at the Greenwich (CT) Academy, reads to eighth graders.Photo courtesy of Greenwich Academy. Every year, Beth Aviv, a high school English teacher in Westchester County, NY, asks her students, “How many of you were read to by a parent when you were little?” Last year, only a quarter of the class raised their hands. Aviv discovered these students were starved for storytelling. So she read to them often, from classic novels such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, picture books including Margery Williams’s The Velveteen Provenance Online Project Just for fun, some GIF animations of images from books and manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania’s Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. All of the GIFs are created by Laura Aydelotte ( and free to share under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial Share-Alike License (see details at bottom of this page). Just credit me with my twitter handle @LauraEAydelotte and mention the image comes from material at the Kislak Center at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries.

Venezuela: Latin American Country Faces Economic Free Fall It was once the richest country in Latin America. Now it’s falling apart By Ioan Grillo / Caracas | Photographs by Alvaro Ybarra Zavala 6 Science-Backed Reasons To Go Read A Book Right Now In a world of omnipresent screens, it can be easy to forget the simple pleasure of curling up with a good book. In fact, a HuffPost/YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults found that 28 percent hadn't read one at all in the past year. But the truth is that reading books can be more than entertainment or a high school English assignment. A study released earlier this month suggests that enjoying literature might help strengthen your "mind-reading" abilities. The research, published in the journal Science, showed that reading literary works (though, interestingly, not popular fiction) cultivates a skill known as "theory of mind," which NPR describes as the "ability to 'read' the thoughts and feelings of others." And that's hardly the only way being a bookworm can boost your mind and well-being.

The Best Children’s Books of 2015 By Maria Popova “I don’t write for children,” Maurice Sendak scoffed in his final interview. “I write — and somebody says, ‘That’s for children!’” 11 Ways to Love Goodreads Even More For hardcore readers, the satisfaction of analyzing your reading habits is second only to the pleasure of getting lost between the pages. In this post sponsored by Goodreads, we’ve teamed up with the folks behind the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations to bring you 10 tips for maximum book nerdery. Get those juicy stats How does the number of books you’ve read this year compare to previous years? What’s the longest book you’ve read this year?

Literary travel: around the world in 10 must-read books In 2012, I embarked on an eccentric project. Having realised how anglocentric my reading was, I decided to try to read a novel, short story collection or memoir from every UN-recognised country, plus former UN member Taiwan (then 196 nations in all), in a calendar year. I set up a blog,, and asked the world’s book lovers to help me. Venezuela faces ‘worst-case scenario’ as Zika outbreak expands CARACAS, Venezuela — In the crowded waiting room of the Vargas de Caracas hospital, the walls are decorated with peppy pro-government slogans: “It’s only possible with socialism.” But the Zika epidemic has struck as the socialist-ruled country is spiraling into economic chaos and the public health system has been stripped of many basic tools of modern medicine. Hospital patients get wheeled past closets overflowing with trash. Stray dogs wander the hospital grounds. Doctors perform surgery without sutures and gauze.

Debunking the myth that orality trumps literacy in Africa Africa is often said to be the oral continent. This is a persistent stereotype which maintains that people in rural sub-Saharan Africa mainly operate and interact using the spoken word. The stereotype further sees writing in Africa as having been brought by Christian missionaries starting in the 19th century.