How to Fill Your Literary Prescription and Cure Your Existential Ailments


In a secular age, I suspect that reading fiction is one of the few remaining paths to transcendence, that elusive state in which the distance between the self and the universe shrinks. Reading fiction makes me lose all sense of self, but at the same time makes me feel most uniquely myself.

Over at the New Yorker, author Ceridwen Dovey explores the practice of “bibliotherapy,” reading for emotional self-care, including an upcoming medical dictionary of ailments and their reading cures, adapted for the preoccupations of each of eighteen countries. (The Indian edition includes literary treatment for “cricket, obsession with,” which the German copy addresses the affliction of “hating parties.”) The Rumpus has never visited a bibliotherapist, but we find solace through a session on the couch with Dear Sugar time and again.

You can find Charley Locke's journalism on WIRED, tweets @CHARLEY_LOCKE, and drawings on her parents' fridge. You can also sometimes spot Charley imperiously making book recommendations while managing the McSweeney's Pop-Up Shops. More from this author →