I have just spent the last half an hour of my life completing an questionnaire about my reading habits. It is in preparation for a bibliotheraphy session I have booked at The School of Life

Bibliotheraphy, I am assured, is ‘the perfect way for you to discover those amazing but often elusive works of literature that can illuminate and even change your life.’ You see, there are too many books out there, with a new book being published every 30 seconds. That is a lot of books.

I feel the need to be well read, but I don’t have a good grounding in the classics. This bothers me. I often feel the urge to ask clever people for reading lists. I want to be set homework, I need a tour guide.

The School of Life talk about their Bibliotherapists in therapeutic terms; the reading list they give you is a referred to as a prescription. They prescribe you what you need, rather than perhaps, what you want. I have often wondered if this diagnosis and prescription model is actually what the best of teachers do.

I must confess that the diagnostic questionnaire felt good to fill in. I had never given my relationship with books a second thought, apart from one noteworthy exception in upper school when a trainee English teacher told us that there really was no need to finish a book, or even start at the beginning, which was a revelation. The questionnaire asked about your childhood experiences of books, where and how and what you read, what you love, and what you hate to read. It reminded me that my childhood home was full of reference books, anatomy books, Pears Encyclopedia, books about mechanical things, books about wild birds and flowers. It reminded me that I once loved Roald Dahl, and had a teenage crush on Joseph Heller. It reminded me how much I detest The Great Gatsby. There doesn’t seem to be so much time for fiction these days.

I am eagerly awaiting confirmation of my appointment, and will let you know more then.

But in the meantime, why not give it some thought. Why do you read? What is your relationships with books? What is the first book you remember falling in love with?

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