John-Paul Flintoff

Meet my bibliotherapist

Life’s too short for bad books – but with a new book published every 30 seconds, it can be hard to know where to start.

Ella Berthoud first started talking about bibliotherapy with Susan Elderkin when they were at Cambridge together. Together, they’ve prescribed literature to friends and family, and now they provide that service through The School of Life, where I also teach.

They recently published their own acclaimed book, The Novel Cure: an A-Z of Literary Remedies (Canongate), and I was delighted and excited to be offered a live, online bibliotherapy session with Ella.

The interview is not short, but if you are thinking of experiencing bibliotherapy yourself, you could do worse than watch. You will also find out:

- Why I wrote my next book longhand – That I love graphic novels – How I workshopped my novel with fellow improvisers – That my mum read Tintin to me and my brother, when we were little, while simultaneously translating it into English in her head. And now I do that for my daughter – That people like me who have “no time” to read fat books can listen to them instead.

NB. Before we did the interview, Ella sent me a questionnaire. A few days later, she sent my full prescription…

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