We Just Found The Solution To Your Reading Slump

Photographed by Fernanda Liberti.
For many of us, the ability to read completely dried up during the pandemic. The news took up all of our headspace, TikTok’s three-minute videos messed with already waning attention spans, and the lack of structure in lockdown drove the idea of reading out entirely. It was all about quick-fix distractions: Love Is Blind marathons and zoning out in front of The Great British Bake Off. Gone was the usual excitement for a fresh paperback (despite temptations offered by R29 reading lists.)
Enter BookTherapy’s Personalised Book Prescription service. BookTherapy is the brainchild of Bijal Shah, a former investment banker turned therapist. It's a bibliotherapy practice and literary curation service that provides tailored book recommendations for clients based on their interests, needs, circumstances and reading habits. Often, Bijal tells R29 UK, she responds to therapeutic requests for people dealing with grief, loss, relationships, career change, anxiety, trauma, challenging family dynamics or other mental health issues. Through lockdown especially, her clients were eager for escapism (romantic scandals with forbidden affairs were particularly popular) and special, socially distanced gift ideas for loved ones they couldn’t see in person.

But can BookTherapy’s questionnaire really pair you with the right reads? How can answering a couple of questions and suggestions from a stranger on the internet drag you out of a reading slump? To this writer's surprise, a few days after receiving Bijal’s detailed book report I was walking out of Waterstones with two paperbacks under my arm. I’m halfway through the first and loving it. It’s a far cry from my usual scroll-through-TikTok-until-sleep routine.
Interested in your own BookTherapy Prescription? Read on to learn more about how it works and where to sign up.

How does BookTherapy’s Personalised Book Prescription service work?

BookTherapy offers a prescription-only service (£24.99). You answer several questions about yourself, your interests and reading habits, and 48 hours later Bijal’s personalised book recommendations hit your inbox in the form of a book report: seven to 10 pages of reviews and why BookTherapy thinks each book will be beneficial for you. If you’re interested in the suggestions, BookTherapy also offers a Personalised Book Box service (£54.99) which includes three hand-picked books and a £10 gift card. Keen to understand how BookTherapy matches books to different therapeutic and mental health needs? Then you can sign up to its Bibliotherapy, Literature & Mental Health Course (£29.99), designed for students and mental health professionals alike.
When trying the prescription service, I added to my library of women’s contemporary literature, discovering new queer and non-binary authors, while exploring fashion and art memoirs. In Bijal’s suggestions I recognised books that have been waiting on my 'to read' list for months (Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman), books that are already favourites (Taylor Reid Jenkins’ Daisy Jones & The Six), and – most excitingly – books I would never have picked up myself.

How does BookTherapy help with the dreaded ‘book slump’?

Though a desire to dive into books again after a hiatus is entirely personal, if you're looking for inspiration, BookTherapy could be the push you need to get back into reading. The best bit is that the service makes it easier – all the leg work of finding the right book for you is done on your behalf.

Where do I try out BookTherapy myself?

To give the prescription service a go yourself, head to the BookTherapy website here. Right now, you can get 10% off one of their services with the code: BOOKTHERAPY1.
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