Skip to main content

The PsychCafe
Share, connect, and learn.

I was thinking I could ask you all a question I stumbled upon in therapy. I am a "big" reader, and books are hugely important in my life, and most of the books I used to like had "unhealthy" worldviews (I mean, if you think that Wuthering Heights describes how the world really is, you'll probably end up not being happy).
But I noticed I also have a number of books that are the embodiments of ... things I explore in therapy: it is fine to have feelings, it is going to be okay, it is okay to be attached, the world has good things. It's mostly picture books (because children books are usually happier and more optimistic than general literature), but also a lot of Mary Oliver's poems.

I am not sure whether it's really possible to share that kind of books, but I was wondering if you had any suggestions, of books that embody some "teachings" of therapy (or simply optimistic ways to see the world)?

(I can post my list if anyone is interested).
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest


Thanks for your reply!

So I have various subcategories:
Picture books:
- : the ish (the dot : )
- all the places you’ll go
- : No Matter What
- : Breathe

Also : Mary Oliver's poetry (Wild Geese, On meditating, Drifting, Forgive me.... )
Or Calvin&Hobbes. And any book by Bill bryson or Danny Gregory.

And if anyone wants to read a looong explanation about how this question appeared in my mind:
I noticed that a lot of how I understand the world comes quite directly from the books I read (no way, that was unexpected...). I mean, I have... feelings and intuitions, and then I read a book that organizes that, shapes it, reinforces it, makes it into something meaningful. For example, my main/initial “worldview” is a mixture of Racine (we are aaaaall guilty, especially for having feelings we do not control), some bits of Kant and Pascal (pride is the worst, we’re all falling into nothingness and trying to forget it) (Well, you probably know that. I mean they are the most relevant part of their “philosophy” for me. And simplified. I shall not be quoted on that). They are books that “fit” me, when I read them for the first time I had the feeling that it was... revealing how the world is, really. “Oh, so that’s how it works, it fits with what I can see and feel.” At the same time they reinforce this initial, disorganized worldview, and they become part of me (I mean, more than usual books).

For a long time, I have wondered how it was that all the books that I felt fit me had the most depressing worldview (maybe not the most, but not really the most joyful outlook on what life is). That they were the ones that “resonate”, which is not something I can control (I’d love to feel that there is a god loving us and that all this does have a meaning, I just can’t). But I have noticed, quite recently, that there are other books that can resonate with my... mmm... happy self. That I do feel “oh yes, the world is like that”, but also “oh yes, I WANT the world to be like that, it would be awesome if it was true, I can decide to believe that their understanding of life “fits” the world”. They are mostly the picture books, but there is also Mary Oliver’s poetry, and weirdly, Bill Bryson, (and, in a more complicated way, Susan Sontag and Simone de Beauvoir, about the intellectual side of life). They all make me want to see the world like them and offer a world interpretation which still fits with some of my feelings.

So I thought, hey, that’s good, I should totally find things reinforcing my feeling that life is not just about shame and guilt (see how I am good, nurturing not exclusively negative things Big Grin). So I am looking for more books like that.
Well, I really like Winnie the Pooh. There's gloom (Eyore) and optomism (Pooh) and uncertainty (Piglet). Seems like a good mix-up of life to me.

"Some people care too much. I think it's called love."

"You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes."

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you.

Promise me you'll always remember: You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
About, thanks for sharing your list. I think I'm getting an idea of what you mean. I love hat you included Calvin and Hobbes. Smiler

I'd like to agree with the suggestions you've received so far: the Velveteen Rabbit is one of my favorite books, and the Winnie the Pooh books are beautiful (in fact, I so strongly identify with Piglet that I have a small tattoo of one of the original drawings of him. It's the only tattoo I have and may well be the only one I ever get). I'd like to suggest the Shel Silverstein books. Poetry and stories. They're so beautiful and funny and witty, and some of them are incredibly moving (some are more silly, but then, I like the balance).

I like this thread. Smiler

Thank you to both of you, there are interesting suggestions, and I'll definitely look into them! (I will reread Winnie the Pooh, never miss a chance to do that!) I love the quotes you posted RT.

DandiLion: I'm interested, I've only ever read The Giving Tree and it always strikes me as... really sad. Am I missing something? (I often wondered, because;... why would you give such a sad book to a child?) So I would love to hear about your experience with it.
About, meant to post in response to this and it slipped my mind. Love to read.

"The Story of Sandy"--excellent book about therapy with a very young child who was damaged from extremely inconsistent parental care. Amazing story. Written by Susan Stanhope Wexler, who essentially adopted him with her husband.

Works by Torey Hayden, such as "The Tiger's Child"

Virginia Axline--"Dibs in Search of Self"

These are about children and their healing, which I find interesting--how it happens.

There is "My Family and Other Animals" by Durrell about his childhood on Corfu. It's a happy, carefree book, with very gentle humor.

"Theophilus North" by Wilder is a novel about a young man gently helping different people overcome their difficulties (many of which are psychological). The book, considering the theme, is remarkably devoid of angst, grief and pathos. It's quite light, respectful and a bit mischievous.

One of my favorite children books is the Moomins book. Moomins are a nice, warm, loving family. This book is like a cozy blanket for cold days.

I will write more if I remember more...

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.