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Notes From The Cotswolds – Bibliotherapy by Penny Parkes
2018/02/16  |  By:   |  Features  |  

The last few months at Parkes Towers have been somewhat tricky. And whilst mastering the supremely English art of the Understatement has taken me so far, there comes a point when other skills must be called into play.

Add in the dark, dismal skies and the seemingly endless rain and I know I am not alone in pining for a blue sky, a wildflower meadow or that subliminal lift that a few extra hours of daylight brings every spring.

As my eccentric octogenarian Elsie Townsend is wont to point out in my novels – one cannot pour from an empty cup.

And it turns out that she has a valid point – it is well nigh impossible to be the best carer, parent, wife, or even friend, when you are physically and emotionally spent. It is also, I have found, a seemingly insurmountable barrier to creativity. Hardly rocket science, but nevertheless for a while there, the solution eluded me.

So I did what I always do in times of difficulty (and possibly also in times of relaxation and joy) – I turned to books.

bibliotherapyNot, as one might expect, an array of self-help tomes written by eminent professors or life-style gurus – but to fiction. To the ebb and flow, the ups and downs, the entrancing and beguiling worlds of the new literary heroines making their mark on 2018. I took to early nights under the duvet with Jojo Moyes, Jill Mansell, Milly Johnson, Joanna Cannon and Jane Fallon – I quite literally indulged in hours of escapism, safe in the hands of some of the finest writers this little country of ours has to offer. Not necessarily because there are oodles of literary prizes adorning their writing desks, but because these amazing women have the infallible knack of capturing the human condition in all its complexity, and likewise of capturing their readers’ imaginations, to the blissful exclusion of whatever might be going on in their (real) lives.

I have decided, going forward, after my month of decadent indulgence, that this is something I need to continue – not just when times are unpredictable and daunting – I need to actively prioritise an early night with a good book.

I need to nurture myself, in order to nurture my creativity.

In the same way that my contrary brain needs to be engaged in something ‘other’ in order to untangle tricky plot twists when I’m writing – walking the Ginger Ninja, swimming up and down, driving the country lanes – it seems that my emotional self also needs a little holiday now and then. And where better than between the pages of a book?

So, if like me, your life occasionally swallows up all your free thinking, all your imagination, all your sleep – then can I encourage you to dive into a book to put the spring back in your step, the pop in your corn, and maybe, if you choose the right books, a smile on your face.

I have decided that Bibliotherapy is exactly what the doctor ordered.



Best Practice publishes in hardback and eBook on 22nd February 2018.  You can pre-order here.