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The Reading Cure. How Books Restored My Appetite

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’General readers, psychiatric nurses and student nurses will find reading this book, thought-provoking and an excellent read’

Title: The Reading Cure. How Books Restored My Appetite

Author: Laura Freeman

Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Reviewer: Daisy Chasauka-Maradzika

What was it like?

The author takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride in her quest to find a cure for her battle with anorexia nervosa, the anorexic mind, through drawing similarities from reading classic literature by Charles Dickens, Roald Dahl, among others.

The use of a variety of relevant and applicable excerpts by the author such as Oliver Twist’s thin porridge to Sassoon’s emphasis on a healthy breakfast before a hunt; is a smart way of continuous reflection and reminding herself the importance of eating; for a good quality of life, a good mind-set and physical wellbeing. The author beautifully captures the importance of family and friends towards her recovery journey. This still applies to date as the support of family members and friends’ impacts on eating habits, physical and mental wellbeing.

Reading this book also made me reflect on my own professional practice because as a Psychiatric Nurse/Public Health Practitioner/Nutritionist, I was taken back to those times I cared for troubled adolescent girls who had anorexia nervosa, and each of those girls also developed their own ‘cures’ and went on to lead healthy lives back in the community. The book is easily accessible to anyone with a passion for reading.

What were the highlights?

This is a personal book, narrating how the author’s psychological wellbeing affected her nutritional intake to the point of starvation including finding the ability to turn the nos, nots, nevers into something positive.

The author further reiterates that she never stopped learning new things and also found her own unique way of curing herself. In the author’s own words, “good food would give me the strength for life and living: for rafting……, reading, writing and imagining.” I found this innovative way of writing, captivating and a breath of fresh air.

For the author, the ability to develop her own coping mechanisms; to drown out the old voices when they returned through reading and guarding jealously the author’s book room i.e. her mind, is among the highlights of this book- as that was the author’s survival strategy, which worked for her.

Strengths & weaknesses:

The use of excerpts similar to good or bad nutrition by the author is one of the strengths of this book. Narrating the ordeal of anorexia nervosa and finding similarities in classic literature passages made the author realise that there is no beauty or nothing brave in starvation. The author also acknowledged that time also paid a part in her healing, as her outlook changed from that of a teenager to someone in her twenties. Healing is personal and takes time.

Who should read it?

General readers, psychiatric nurses and student nurses will find reading this book, thought-provoking and an excellent read. However, having background knowledge of some classic books made reference to in this book is an added advantage. 

the reading cure

the reading cure


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