A book can change your whole life

Can books change our lives?

Can books change our lives?

Can books change our lives? PETRA author Jana Michels prescribed a “reading year” for herself. She devoured 45 stories - and learned a lot about courage, happiness and herself

As a child, I loved to hide under the covers with a book when the world - or my parents - conspired against me. I could forget everything while reading. And I also learned from the stories that other people also had problems and that most of them could even be solved. Over the years I forgot how good it is to be caught in a book on bad days. It was certainly no coincidence that I remembered it on my 40th birthday of all places. Although I have to say that I wasn't feeling bad: I had a great husband, good friends. And yet I found that I was becoming more dissatisfied because nothing seemed to be moving in my life. All around me people moved to other cities, looked for new jobs, celebrated weddings. Only I seemed to stand still. Is that it now? Or was something else coming?

Insert a year of reading

My lover had built a bookshelf for my birthday - a practical gift as always, but this time I was very happy about it. I was finally able to free all the books that had been in the second and third rows for years from their shadowy existence. Suddenly I knew what I had to do: I was going to have a reading year! Finally take time for all the unread books and, above all, think about each one of them how I could benefit from them. I built stacks and at the end I counted 45. I would read them all within 365 days.

Reading as therapy

I am not alone with the idea of ​​viewing reading - and not that of non-fiction or advice books - as a kind of therapy. Even the pharaohs regarded their libraries as "healing places for the soul". Today it is called bibliotherapy and is a common healing method for depression, eating disorders or ADHD, especially in the USA. The book “Die Romantherapie” (Insel, 430 pp., 20 euros) by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin also shows how novels work on prescription. It recommends the right reading material for every problem.

It was a year ago that I had prescribed reading therapy myself. Twelve months of drifting from book to book - at first the books didn't seem to have any connection. I just read what appealed to me: Nina Georges “Das Lavendelzimmer” (Knaur HC, 14.99 euros), Christoph Meckel's “Licht” (Fischer, 6.95 euros) or Joan Didion's “The Year of Magical Thinking” (List, 8 , 95 euros). But when I look back now, I can clearly see a common thread: Many of the books are about people who dare to start again. Nina George lets the bookseller Jean Perdu chug through France in a houseboat in order to open herself to life again after a disappointed love. “The big lot” (Albrecht Knaus, 19.99 euros) by Meike Winnemuth or “Einfach losfahren” (Diogenes, 9.90 euros) by Fabio Volo, two books that I liked very much, tell of people who focus on Reinvent travel.

Certain passages gave me a stab

Do I secretly want to leave everything behind and start over? No not that. Nevertheless, passages like the one from "Just drive off" gave me a pang because they hit me where it hurts. Fabio Volo lets his main character Michele say: “I lived a life that practically happened to me. I had sewn myself into it like a dress and over time had come to believe that it was mine. Although I realized from time to time that there was a bit of tweaking in some places. ”Sometimes I too quickly gave up my demands on myself and life. Immediately I remembered things that I wanted to do, but didn't do. Why did I get bogged down again and again? Maybe it was like in the story of Mimi, "The longer, the better" (C. Bertelsmann, 19.99 euros) by Alexa Hennig von Lange: The gallery owner is so married to her job that she does all of her work Forgets life about it. Until she meets her youth crush Bruno again. While Mimi tries to bring the daredevil in her back to life, I realized that it was no different for me.

Safety instead of adventure

I used to believe in the seemingly impossible, took daring trips, had wild parties. But at some point I shed this I, relying on security. And so the years flew by without my really feeling them. When I met my loved one in a bar, it felt like coming home. Before, I had lived as restlessly as a wandering ant: kept moving, falling in love every few weeks - until I hit the brakes. Today I sometimes wonder that the moving boxes have been unused in the attic for so long. But after everything I've read, I know: It takes courage not to move on - even if you've found something worth staying.

Maybe that's why I enjoyed reading stories about new beginnings. In my books I was very close to when protagonists do what is out of the question for me at the moment. But on a small scale I could - instinctively give in to my escape - and just start living, like in the past.

So how do you find the book that helps you? You can ask a soulmate for reading tips. Or go to a small bookstore and spend a whole afternoon browsing through the first pages, forewords and blurbs. The books find the people, I know that today. And if you want to learn something from them, it is best to put together the most important findings, thoughts and the most beautiful sentences of your post-its on a sheet of paper. Reading through it you will find the central theme and answers to the questions that are so bothering you. And maybe even new goals and ideas. Then it's time to live. “Books can do a lot, but not everything,” says the clever Jean Perdu in Nina George's “The Lavender Room”. “You have to live the most important things. Do not read."

Comforting reading

These books comfort ...


Because friendship is always a comfort: Nick Hornby "A Long Way Down", Kiepenheuer & Witsch, € 19.90


Because we learn that everyone is in the same boat: Eva Menasse “Quasikristalle”, Kiepenheuer & Witsch, € 19.99


Because suddenly you can laugh about it: Karen Duve “This is not a love song”, Goldmann, € 8.95


Because today is the best time of our life: Paul Auster “Winterjournal”, Rowohlt, € 19.95

... IF YOU STAND BETWEEN TWO MEN Because you should know what is at stake: Leo Tolstoy "Anna Karenina", Anaconda, € 9.95