If you're having a rough time in life, questioning your decisions or wondering if you can take the stress of the situation you've gotten yourself into, you could decide to go see a psychologist to help you think things through. But if you do that in the UK, you might be shocked by what that therapist prescribes you.
Under a new program called the "Books on Prescription program," doctors in the country's National Health Service are actually prescribing specific titles for specific ailments.
"If your primary care physician diagnoses you with 'mild to moderate' depression, one of her options is now to scribble a title on a prescription pad. You take the torn-off sheet not to the pharmacy but to your local library, where it can be exchanged for a copy of "Overcoming Depression," "Mind Over Mood," or "The Feeling Good Handbook." And depression is only one of over a dozen conditions treated," reports the Boston Globe.
Private outfits are even offering book prescriptions for more everyday complaints like career ennui, climate change dread, or family tensions.
All of which is a fascinating option if you can make it across the pond and sign yourself up for some "bibliotherapy." But even if you're elsewhere, there are helpful lists of books suited to particular struggles and life periods. One of the most fascinating recent ones I've come across is a list of 100 books for every age of your life, compiled by The Washington Post's Book World staff.
Broken down by decade, the list offers a prescription for the common crises and conundrums of every life stage. To give you an idea here are some of their picks for your 30s (chosen for no particular reason other than I am 38):
1. Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story by Paul Monette
"Society may try to force you into a mold. You don't have to comply." Truer words may never have been spoken.
2. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
"Tips for communicating with children also come in handy when dealing with adults who act like them." Who couldn't use a little advice along these lines?
3. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
"Your mother has stories to tell and insights to share, though you might not be ready to hear them until you're grown up."
4. The Sportswriter by Richard Ford
"There is a lost and sad, yet somehow hopeful, dude lurking inside every man." This novel didn't speak to me at all, but my husband loved it, insisting it's "a guy thing." Apparently, others agree.
5. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
What's the message of this novel about a woman who takes a knock on the head at 29 and comes out of her amnesia at 39? "Is this where you really want to be in life? Because it's not too late to do things differently," says WaPo.
Check out the complete list of books for interesting prescriptions for every age.