I love reading fiction. I don’t love reading self-help and therapy books. I’ve just finished reading Counselling for Toads, which was recommended to me by at least three people. And I got through it – I guess because it was written like fiction – but I can’t say I got a lot of enjoyment or enlightenment out of it. The concept is that
toads has become depressed after his adventures in Wind in the Willows and we follow his journey through counselling and discover why he is the flawed character he is and how he can be happier. It also looked at the other characters within the book in more minor detail. Although I sometimes recognised myself in certain behaviours and enjoyed the character of the therapist being played by a heron, it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know and though it made me think, it didn’t challenge me. It just made me feel frustrated.
But it was a better reaction to the last one I tired to read – Man’s Search for Meaning by Joseph Frankel, which I ended up hurling across the room and refusing to finish because I felt so claustrophobic from it. The first half of the book was centred around Frankel’s experiences in a concentration camp during WWII and how he used his attitude and thoughts to get through the horror of it. That was interesting. But as soon as he started applying it to a stratagem for therapy, I felt it was prescriptive and simplistic and I couldn’t bear it.
I’ve tried various other books, but always with the same feeling of claustrophobia and I wonder if anyone else ever gets that feeling. Does it show some sort of avoidance in me or is it just that I prefer fiction?