The popularity of books has not declined despite the increase in the use of electronic devices. Bibliotherapists and other experts in the field have also stated that reading trends have remained stable over the last few years.

Popular bibliotherapist Ella Berthoud, who gives personalized reading advice to many at School of Life in London, says that reading can soothe troubled minds. She was sharing her thoughts about the role played by literature in improving the mental health of people at a panel event on Textual Healing: Can Fiction Heal?”. The program was organized by the BBC.

Social networking sites have gained a huge fan base over the past few years. But despite these apps' addictive nature, several people still prefer reading books. A 2017 poll report by Gallup has indicated that an average American still loves to read books.

According to the poll report, around 35 percent of Americans are still consuming the same number of books that they used to buy before the arrival of smartphones and social media.

A survey report by Pew Research Center also indicated a similar result. The survey findings have revealed that the reading habits of Americans remained largely unchanged between the years 2012-2016. According to the survey, over 65 percent of Americans read at least a print book in a year.

Berthoud believes that books, especially fiction, remain the primary source of entertainment for a large number of people worldwide. According to her, it is a more intense form of escapism than any other art forms and it helps people reduce their stress levels.

“With a film or TV show, you’re given the visuals whereas with a novel you’re inventing them yourself, so it’s actually much more of a powerful event, because you’re involved,” she explained.

The bibliotherapist also highlighted the role played by fiction in tackling the mental health problems faced by youngsters.

“The issues which might be happening in their lives, but they haven’t been able to articulate. I really think that a book can be the axe that breaks the frozen sea within us,” Berthoud said.

reading books
Library users browse for books on the Cornwall County Council mobile library lorry at Rock, near Bodmin, England, Jan. 20, 2011. Getty Images/Matt Cardy