Reading as a Cure for Depression?

Reading your way out of depression

What I find most intriguing is the teaser beneath the head: "I suspect you need a very individual prescription. . . "  And that would make a certain amount of sense because every depression requires an individual treatment, with or without the present pharmacopia.  But Saul Bellow as a way out of depression?  Not in my reading--Seize the Day is a one-book formula for hyperanxiety.  But, I'm not widely versed in Bellow, so I guess I'm going to have to visit Herzog sometime soon.


  1. A very individual prescription indeed. "Henderson The Rain King" has been the limits of Bellows that I've read and I found it more exasperating than uplifting.

    I'd say the author of the article had some lucky synchronicity going on. John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series got me thru my parents' divorce, but that was thru distraction.

    I'm not surprised to hear that good literature can help, but I'd be cautions about substituting a reading list for treatment. I would like to believe that a reading life can help the mind stay balanced, active, and immune from depression, but I fear that is not the case.

    For me, Herodotus helps me to regain perspective and centeredness, but that's only been for a funk, not outright depression.

  2. Dear Randy,

    And the author makes your critical point early on in the essay. As you note, you may read yourself out of a funk, and reading may help during clinical depression (if you find yourself capable of doing anything at all), but "the reading cure" is likely to be as ultimately effective as the "rest cure" was for Virginia Woolf and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. (Just take a glance at "The Yellow Wallpaper."

    Thanks for this caution--an important one.




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