How Audiobooks Improved One Man's Mental Health

By David Konow 08/26/19

"By simply listening, I easily get transported elsewhere and beyond. Audiobooks are such wonders of life," the man describes.

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Audiobooks have become an industry unto their own. They’re an easier way for people to digest a great story, and many top actors have made a great living narrating them. Now one journalist, Arvyn Cerezo, is telling Book Riot how listening to audiobooks improved his mental health.

As Cerezo relates, he made a commitment to read everyday for what’s known as “bibliotherapy,” which means reading becomes part of your mental health program. Yet it was hard to make reading part of his everyday routine when life got hectic.

At first, Cerezo used to be what he called “a purist and elitist,” and thought that actually “reading books was the only thing that counted. But then I remembered one of my university lessons about the ancient and beautiful tradition of oral storytelling… [It’s] not much different from the audiobooks that we have been enjoying for decades.”

Once Cerezo started listening, he loved it, and wished he started listening to audiobooks sooner. He also discovered that audiobooks calmed him down and made him “placid” before doing freelance writing assignments that made him anxious.

Another wonderful discovery was that audiobooks were great for blocking out outside noises and distractions. “It’s a total immersion for me because I get to read along with the narrator…I’m the type of reader who wants total silence while reading. I always lose focus when someone’s blasting music or talking nearby. I’m very grateful that audiobooks block all of them and more. By simply listening, I easily get transported elsewhere and beyond.”

“Audiobooks are such wonders of life,” he raves. “With them, I still get to continue doing my bibliotherapy to boost my mental health and enjoy wonderful stories from different cultures while still pursuing life’s opportunities.”

As it turns out, bibliotherapy has been around for a long time. As a report on Medical Xpress explains, the concept has been around since World War I, and the term was invented by a writer and minister named Samuel McChord Crothers. A woman named Helen Mary Gaskell took the concept even further, and once she built a sizable library, it became affiliated with the Red Cross in 1915.

Gaskell said, “Surely many of us lay awake the night after the declaration of war, debating… how best we could help in the coming struggle… Into the mind of the writer came, like a flash, the necessity of providing literature for the sick and wounded.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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