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I recently lost my paternal grandmother of almost 90 years old to Covid-19. Still in the process of grieving, I found myself reflecting on our memories together and how these memories were shifting form in my mind. I felt compelled to write about them, perhaps as a way of healing through therapeutic writing. This past year, as many people have faced losses in some shape or form, I wonder how they feel about the power of memory. Here are my reflections in a confessional poem.


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At the start of the pandemic, as we started to make sense of what was happening, as the world began to shut down and global and local markets paused, as governments rapidly deployed armies of medical staff to cope with mass illness as a result of Covid-19, I looked at my toddlers — a 1.5 year old and a 3 year old. Did they really understand what was happening? They could sense that some sort of change was taking place — but did they really understand? Why we couldn’t see family and friends, why we had to wear a mask…


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Hello! This is our selection of the most notable books of 2020 spanning both fiction and non-fiction, ranging from literary fiction, pandemic fiction, young adult, romance, mystery and thrillers, LGBTQIA+ as well as a wonderful choice of non-fiction including best political and business books, memoirs and biographies and travel and cookbooks.

Also to help you get the most out of your reading life don’t forget to sign up to our signature Bibliotherapy, Literature & Mental Health online course or our personalised reading service (tailored book recommendations and curated reading lists)!

Best Literary Fiction of 2020

1. The Vanishing Half( Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction) by Brit Bennett


“I’ve never known any trouble that an hour’s reading didn’t assuage”. The words of French philosopher Charles De Secondat and author of the controversial book ‘The Spirit of the Laws’ continue to resonate today. Its premise is bibliotherapy, which is the use of literature as therapy. Biblio is the Greek word for books and therapy stems from the Greek word therapeia which literally means ‘to help medically’.

The modern-day term ‘book therapy’ is often cited too, as is the word ‘bibliocounselling’, both describe the prescription of literature, as a form of art therapy, that enables greater self-awareness, cathartic relief and…


Rethinking Therapeutic Literature

When I came across Dr Kelda Green’s book, Rethinking Therapeutic Literature, I was fascinated — Dr Green had recently completed her PhD on the therapeutic aspects of literature and was sharing insights from her research. Her book was essentially a trim-down version of her PhD thesis and I wanted to know more. Particularly as her work aligns closely with Book Therapy’s mission: accessing the therapeutic benefits of literature.

Dr Green was born and grew up in South London. She read English and French at The University of Liverpool, graduating in 2009. She went on to complete a Master’s degree in…


I recently had a client ask me to curate a personalised book prescription for literary fiction books written by Black British authors in the wake of the #blacklivesmovement. This is the list I curated. It includes a diverse range of young adult fiction and literary fiction written by Black British authors including my two favourites, Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman Other and Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give. I’ve also thrown in a book by Marlon James whose magical realism books, A Brief History of Seven Killings and Black Leopard, Red Wolf are just mind-blowing. Lastly, I’ve chosen some lyrical poetry…


Literature affords us, familiar friends, through the silent passage of words — it forges our connection with fictional and real-life characters recreating the experience of an authentic friendship — with friends who are almost more perfect than the ones in real life. …


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Born a Jain, I’ve always hoped for a children’s book on the beautiful philosophy that’s over 2000 years old.

Jain, a word derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Jina’ describes the path of enlightenment and salvation over successive re-births by removing karma and embracing an ethical and spiritual existence. It also prescribes non-violence to living creatures, including plants. It’s peaceful nature and compassionate and thoughtful way of life are wholesome life lessons for any child.

A month ago, on the auspicious Jain occasion of Mahavir Jayanti, authors Nirav Gudka and Sunita Shah of The Jai Jais published “Mahavir”, the story…


Anything that threatens our existence, be it mild or rare always captures our imaginations and the coronavirus is no different. Whilst the majority can survive it, there’s always the threat of unknown unknowns that haunt us. Plus if you’re a parent, an elderly person or someone with a compromised immune system, you’re going to be that much more anxious.

As a bibliotherapist, who reaches out for fiction, for comfort, healing, rescue, I could not help but draw on two books that have fascinated me (and that made my list of Literature’s 13 Most Unusual Books) — both are about plague…


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As we enter a new era of Gen X and Millennials heading up young families, there is a new kind of family evolution taking place. The family as an institution is being challenged from all angles. With the complexities of life, the variety of family structure including re-marriages and same-sex families, there is a renewed interest in family dynamics, and in particular family therapy.

As the family unit forms a new identity, I could not help but draw on Salvador Minuchin’s book on family therapy, titled “Family Healing”, which has been simultaneously nostalgic and sobering for me. It has become…

Bijal A Shah

Book therapist, author, poet & founder of Book Therapy - therapy using the power of literature: https://www.booktherapy.io/ and www.bit.ly/bibliotherapycourse

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