January is traditionally a depressing month, and a quick glance
in any bookshop shows a whole host of self-help books targeted at
anyone feeling down and going for a 'new year, new you'.
However this year, why not try a literary alternative? A
whole different way to achieve self-improvement and become a 'new
Vintage Books at Random House have chosen twelve titles for 2014 that focus on mental, spiritual and physical health. The series begins with Stephen Grosz's bestseller The Examined Life. This extraordinary book takes us into the room where the psychoanalyst and his patient sit and allows us to eavesdrop on their conversation. These are tales taken from Stephen's 25 years experience - over 50,000 hours spent listening and responding to those who have come to seek his help. The stories themselves are, of course, riveting in the way that other people's lives always are; they shock us with their sheer improbability. Would anyone's distress really be so great that, having sought the services of an analyst, they would fake their own suicide? What kind of woman would diligently catalogue incidents that pointed strongly to her husband's infidelity, and yet refuse to accept the facts of the matter? What does it mean if, at a moment of extreme success, someone sabotages their own celebrations by a loss so careless it seems almost deliberate?
A recent survey* of book readers showed that 93% of respondents had read books (not traditional self-help books) to make themselves feel better, and a quarter of them did this 'all the time'. Popular literary authors that readers looked to to cheer themselves up included Helen Fielding, Jane Austen and Rachel Joyce.
So don't give into feeling bleak this January (or at any time of year), and instead opt for a bit of bibliotherapy and pick up a book!
Visit Shelf Help for further information on books that might help you.
The Examined Life is published by Vintage, price £8.99
Hotel du Vin partners with Random House publishers to bring you literary treats and tips, including writing courses.
*Survey based on 1191 respondents in October 2013
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