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Shelf Healing



Archive for the 'Historical' Category

Professor John Mullan

By Rebecca Markwick, on 8 June 2021

John and I chat about the therapeutic benefits of humour in books, why Austen and Dickens are so brilliant, and how the crime thriller can be such a comfort in times of stress

Show Notes

A lively and entertaining interview with Professor John Mullan about theraprutic reading and his very favourite authors Charles Dickens and Janes Austen.
John takes us on a deep dive into what we can enjoy in literature and how he finds humour to be the very best comfort read possible. We travel through literature from Shakespeare, stopping at 18th century literature, then right though to modern day authors and thrillers.

John’s most recent books:
The Artful Dickens
What Matters in Jane Austen?

Authors and works mentioned in the podcast:
King Lear by William Shakespeare
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
Charles Bukowski
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
Dante’s Inferno
Jane Austen
Charles Dickens
Dombey and Son
Great Expectations

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne
Vladimir Nabokov
Agatha Christie
P.D James
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Lie with Me by Sabine Durrant
Emma by Jane Austen
Moby Dick by  Herman Melville
A la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time) by Marcel Proust
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Prelude by William Wordsworth
Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark
Symposium by Muriel Spark 

Professor Kiernan Ryan

By Rebecca Markwick, on 11 May 2021

I chat with Kiernan all about Shakespeare’s ongoing draw, why tragedy is therapeutic, and how skillfully the Bard creates empathy with both characters and the audience

Show Notes
This week I have the delightful job of chatting to my old Shakespeare professor, Emeritus Professor Kiernan Ryan, all about the therapeutic effects of his sonnets, speeches, and plays. How Shakespeare has remained relevant four centuries after first being performed, and what there is to be gained and lost in watching, listening, and reading his work.
We discuss rhetoric, the draw of tragedies, how Shakespeare mirrors both the audience and the characters themselves, the importance of empathy, and how gender fluid many of the comedies are.

Do check out Kiernan’s books available from Bloomsbury here
Kiernan’s new book, coming out in August 2021

The  Shakespeare works most mentioned and quoted from are:
Sonnet 29
The Tempest
The Merchant of Venice
King Lear
Much Ado About Nothing
Twelfth Night

Mary Robinette Kowal

By Rebecca Markwick, on 6 April 2021

I chat with Hugo Award winning author Mary Robinette Kowal all about books, puppetry, voice acting, and the space between author and audience.

Show Notes
I had a blast chatting to Hugo Award Winning author Mary Robinette Kowal all about her thoughts on bibliotherapy, the therapeutic effects of writing, and the importance of the membership non profit Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America of which Mary Robinette is President. We chatted a lot about the role of the intermediary in storytelling, both through audio with her work as a voice artist and with the visual with her work as a puppeteer. We discuss that distance between author and audience and how it affects our wellbeing. A fabulous chat with a fabulous author, voice actor, and puppeteer!

Link to Mary Robinette Kowal’s website

As promised all the books and authors mentioned in this episode:
John Scalzi
Guy Gavriel Kay
Martha Wells
Jane Austen
The Sun, The Moon, & The Stars by Stephen Brust
Philip K Dick
Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Glamorous Histories series by Mary Robinette Kowal
Jane Espensen
The Midnight Bargain by CL Polk

Nigel Beale

By Rebecca Markwick, on 30 March 2021

Lisa and I chat with Nigel Beale all about beautiful books, libraries worth visiting, and his love of literary tourism.

Show Notes
I chat with Nigel Beale and my co host Lisa Dalton all about beautiful books this week. We take a journey into Nigel’s literary critic role, his podcast interviews and how they intersect with his love of literary tourism. Nigel discusses how the very visual nature of a book can be therapeutic in and of itself and how he collects a wide variety of books and book related items, all chosen for their beauty.

Things mentioned in the podcast:

Bruce Taylor
Martin Amis
JM Coetzee
Cultural Amnesia by  Clive James
King Lear

The Novel Cure: An A to Z of Literary Remedies by Susan Elderkin and Ella Berthoud
Think and Grow Rich by Andrew Carnegie
Harry Ransom Center  in Austin, Texas
Houghton Library at Harvard
Beinecke Rare Books Library at Yale
British Library
Book of Kells at Trinity College Dublin

Megan Rosenbloom

By Rebecca Markwick, on 16 March 2021

Megan Rosenbloom

I chat with academic Librarian Megan Rosenbloom this week all about the therapeutic effects of reading and her thoughts about the joy of libraries. We discuss Megan’s strong belief in death positivity and how this causes her to constantly strive to read all of the books, very rarely rereading.

We also chat about her book Dark Archives and how historic medical books affect the wellbeing of the researcher and reader. There’s a lovely thought about how Ulysses is best read in a community as well.

Photo by Polly Antonia Barrowman

Show Notes
I chat to the lovely academic librarian Megan Rosenbloom this week all about her thoughts on therapeutic reading, death positivity, researching human skin books, and how Ulysses has stayed with her and should be read as part of a community.

There is so much in this episode, brilliant ideas about librarianship along with a hidden gem of an archive open to the public. Megan’s constant journey to read all the books that she can, and how being a medical librarian affected her way of looking at books. There is book history and book anecdotes galore in this glorious extra long episode!

I would also thoroughly recommed Megan’s fantastic book Dark Archives.
Megan’s photo for this episode by Polly Antonia Barrowman.

Authors, works, and places mentioned:
Ernest Becker

Dark Archives: A Librarian’s Investigation Into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin by Megan Rosenbloom
A Cat’s Tale: A Journey Through Feline History by Baba the Cat and Paul Koudounaris
The Dreamsongs by John Berryman
Ulysses by James Joyce

The Rosenbach – museum in Philadelphia
The Huntingdon Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens – in LA

Jewish Book Week with Claudia Rubenstein

By Rebecca Markwick, on 2 March 2021

Claudia Rubenstein

I chat with Claudia about the therapeutic effects of non-fiction, moving the Jewish Book Week Literary Festival online, and what panels to look out for.

A full list of authors, works, and the panels recommended are available in the show notes.

Show Notes
Claudia Rubenstein Director of Jewish Book Week Literary Festival chats therapuetic reading & what to expect from this year’s online festival. We talk about Claudia’s love of historical non-fiction and her go to books for comfort.

Cynthia Ozick
Jean Plaidy
Isaiah Berlin
Delphine Horvilleur
Jay Rayner
Hermione Lee
Nicole Krauss
Howard Jacobson
Edmund de Waal
Simon Schama
Simon Sebag Montefiori

The Magician of Lublin Isaac Bashevis Singer
A Little History of the World E. H. Gombrich
An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood Neal Garber
The Lion in Winter
Jews Don’t Count David Baddiel
A Place of Greater Safety Hilary Mantel

Karl Marx: Philosophy and Revolution Shlomo Avineri, chair: John Gray
Why Do Jews Love The Godfather? Harlan Lebo and Rich Cohen
Modern Jewish Literature Howard Jacobson, Dara Horn, and Adam Kirsch
You Talkin’ To Me E J White
The Language of Thieves Martin Puchner
Signatures David Pryce-Jones
How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division Elif Shafak
Burning the Books Richard Ovenden
Mending the Mind Oliver Kamm
The Lives of Lucian Freud William Feaver
The House of Fragile Things James McAuley

Survivors Rob Rinder and Rebecca Clifford
The Pandemic, the NHS and Me: Michael Rosen and Rachel Clarke

Dr Samantha Rayner

By Rebecca Markwick, on 23 February 2021

Dr Samantha Rayner

This week I chat historical fiction with Sam and how she goes for different books for different wellbeing needs. We also take a quick tour of Sam’s favourite mediaeval texts.
Heyer and Dunnett take front seat in Sam’s love of historical romance fiction, it’s no suprise then that she’s edited a new book all about Heyer!

The show notes are full of lovely recommendations and there’s a link to Sam’s Heyer book too.

Show Notes
This week I chat with Dr Samantha Rayner, Vice Dean of Wellbeing and Director of Publishing at UCL. We talk about how books affect our wellbeing and how we reach for different books for different reasons. We dive through historical fiction and make a quick stop in the world of mediaeval literature.

Sam has edited a new book on Georgette Heyer which you can find here

Authors and works mentioned in the episode:
Georgette Heyer
Robin Hobb
J.R.R. Tolkien
Dorothy Dunnett
Margaret Campbell Barnes
Anya Seaton

Wilding by Isabella Tree
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Selected Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins
Katherine by Anya Seton
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Abelard and Heloise by  Peter Waddell
Love Without End: A Story of Heloise and Abelard by Melvyn Bragg
La Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Dr Paula Byrne

By Rebecca Markwick, on 1 December 2020

Dr Paula Byrne


Dr Paula Byrne

In our first Shelf Healing interview we chat to Dr Paula Byrne, author and founder and CEO of ReLit: The Bibliotherapy Foundation. We discuss bibliotherapy, reading and mental health, and what literature Paula reaches for to improve her own mental health.

Head to the show notes for links and a list of authors and books mentioned in the podcast.

Show Notes
In our first Shelf Healing interview we chat to Dr Paula Byrne, author and founder and CEO of ReLit: The Bibliotherapy Foundation. We discuss bibliotherapy, reading and mental health, and what literature Paula reaches for to improve her own mental health.

Link to Paula’s charity ReLit: The Bibliotherapy Foundation
Link to Paula’s twitter account
Link to Paula’s author website
Link to LibriVox

Books and authors mentioned in the podcast:


Dr Paula Byrne
Jane Austen
Evelyn Waugh
Jonathan Bate
P.G. Wodehouse
Barbara Pym
Thomas Hardy
Elizabeth Taylor
William Shakespeare
William Wordsworth
Matt Haig

Much Obliged, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
The Diary for Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy
The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy
Middlemarch by Mary Ann Evans
Othello by William Shakespeare
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy by Priscilla Gilman
Daffodils by William Wordsworth
Stressed, Unstressed by Jonathan Bate and Paula Byrne
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Emma by Jane Austen
Persuasion by Jane Austen
On the Birth and Death of My Dearest Child Hector Phillips by Katherine Phillips
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig