I love reading fiction and non-fiction, and I love writing, so a reading journal is a wonderful combination of both passions.  Bibliotherapy is the technical term used when books are used for personal insight with or without a reading journal. These are some of the go-to non-fiction books that I keep on my bookshelf to read again and again (and how I use/have used each book for further journaling projects):

  • The New Encyclopedia of Flower Remedies by Clare G Harvey.  I love floral healing of any form.  Flower essences are great for the healing they bring and the creative ways you can use them.  The author signed my copy of this book at some exhibition many moons ago.  Journaling ideas:  Working with particular flower remedies – creating my remedies.
  • Good Faeries/Bad Faeries by Brian Froud.  This man is just a fantastic fantasy illustrator. He is most widely known for his 1978 book Faeries with Alan Lee and as the conceptual designer of The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth films.  Journaling ideas:  Creating short stories with parts of myself as a critical character, e.g. wicked mermaid faerie Loreli.
  • Women Who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  A book for the wild woman in all of us.  Journaling ideas:  Using dialogue prompts to explore different feminine aspects of myself – I am the Wolf.
  • The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook by Martha Davis, Elizabeth R Eshelman and Matthew McKay. This is a standard textbook I use in several of my courses.  It has been reprinted many times because it is so popular.  I particularly like it because you can dip in and out, and it is convenient with many techniques.  Journaling ideas:  Using and journaling through different techniques to improve resilience.
  • Benedictus by John O’Donohue.  This small hardback book is lovely to handle and smell.  I dip in and out of the text penned by the poet and writer and always find gentle blessings.  Journaling ideas: Creating blessings and prayers of my own or with clients.
  • Sacred House: where women weave words into the earth by Carolyn Hillyer.  A book was given to me by my sister, which I treasure.  Another book to dip and out of embracing the earth, spirit mothers, mystical journeys, sisterhood and the unfolding landscape of our travelling souls.  Journaling ideas: Goddess journaling – exploring my pagan nature – working with my feminine.

While fiction doesn’t have as direct an influence on self-development as non-fiction, I find that some books inspire me or reassure me, or give me a mental health escape route for a few hours.  These are some of the go-to fiction books that I keep on my bookshelf:

  • Earth’s Children Jean Auel.   This is a series of six books set way back in prehistoric times and follows the life of Ayla, from childhood to a medicine woman.
  • Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.  Here the author tells the Arthurian legends from the perspective of the female characters, specifically following the life of Morgaine, a priestess fighting to save her Celtic religion in a country where Christianity threatens to destroy the pagan way of life. Other featured women include Gwenhwyfar, Viviane, Morgause and Igraine.
  • Mrs Read books (in real life Dora Saint).  She made real the idea of the English village school as a sane and safe haven for those growing up after the second world war.  The fictional accounts were based on her life as a village school teacher and were great at describing the joys of the countryside, from discovering a robin’s nest inside a hollow damson tree to smelling a field full of sage. Soooo soothing.

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