Did you know you can ask a book to be curative for you and it will respond? I define anything in my life to be curative when it has cared for and tended to me in a way that makes me feel better. My own experience with asking books to be curative has shown me how all texts of good literary fiction can do this for us if we intend for them to. But in oder to activate a book's curative potential we have to be willing to develop a relationship with the book and give it a few things when we first crack open its pages and being to read.
The first thing is we have to be willing to give the book our full attention. A great 21st century Spanish philosopher, Jose Ortega y Gasset, once said "falling in love is a phenomenon of attention." You can't love a book and it can't love you back if you don't pay attention to it. Paying attention to your text involves reading it closely, underlining, and re-reading the things that sparkle and standout to you.
The second thing is spending time with your book and getting to know its characters slowly over time. Curative Reading is not about devouring a book in a sitting or a weekend. The best curative potential is always set for a slow release over a period of weeks. You may find this challenging at first until you realize the value of a second read through of a certain passage or a slow read-aloud of a chapter or two. Spending time writing down answers to questions that have arisen while reading also deepens your relationship with a story and sparks cognition in the act of writing and recall.
The third and final thing that activates a book's curative potential is sharing it with others and bringing that book experience out into the world. This is a key component to uncovering the curative potential in a book. It expands the concept of reading as a solitary activity to one that is done not just for us, but for others and the natural world as well. Yes, reading curatively enhances the health of the natural world too. Never has there been a piece of fiction that did not weave references to light, woodlands, wildlife, or water into the story to inspire us. When we read these lines of text and speak about their beauty with others, we become more awarer of our natural surroundings and want to care for and tend to them.
Asking a book to be curative is a simple medicinal formula of paying attention to it, spending time with it, and sharing it with others. Ask your next great piece of fiction to be curative and don't be surprised when it answers you back in just the way you need it to.
May you read on and be well.