By Brent Woodard 

Anglican/ United Church

 Apparently in the UK, it is legal for doctors to prescribe books to people who are suffering from mental exhaustion, distress and depression. As I understand it, there are about 30 books on the official prescription list – books that have been found measurably effective. It came about because some people, when faced with long wait times for treatment, turned to books and were helped by them. 

Personally, I have found some literature medicinal. I like to use the word “medicinal” because some literature literally has an effect on me like medicine. When I am out of sorts, when I have gone down a rabbit hole of “stinking thinking,” I have found wisdom in literature that can sort me out, help untangle the mesh of thoughts which are causing me distress, and help me get back to sanity. I keep this literature near at hand. Call it a crutch. But I’d rather have inner peace with a healthy crutch than inner turmoil without hope, aid or with an unhealthy crutch. 

It’s possible to Google the list of books that are recommended in the UK. I would like to share a list of books that work for me. It’s important, though, that everyone finds the literature that works for them. What resonates with one person might not resonate with another. Neither is it necessary, I would say, to have a large collection. A small amount of literature works if, when you read it, brings you back to reality, balanced thinking and sanity. Here’s my list:

The three books by Eckhart Tolle – 1. “The Power of Now,” 2. “Stillness Speaks,” and 3. “A New Earth.” 4. David Burns book “The Feeling Good Handbook. 5. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book “The Mindful Way Through Depression.” 6. Joseph Bailey’s book “The Serenity Principle.” 7. Almost any literature from the 12-Step recovery programs. 8. Sandra Matri’s book “The Spiritual Dimensions of the Enneagram.” 

I’m sure it is good to read through a whole book, but for me a sign of medicinal literature is that you can sometimes just read a sentence or two, or a paragraph or page, and feel it having an affect on you. If Pepto-Bismol is good for an upset stomach, the right literature for you is good for an upset mind. 

I am part of an online community that meets Friday mornings to listen to talks by Eckhart Tolle and have time for discussion. It is free. The group meets from 10-11:30 MT. It’s very relaxed and non-threatening. To receive an email with the zoom link, please send an email to the church I serve by going to [email protected]. 

I hope you find medicinal literature that helps you on your journey.