Many of us have been relying on Audible during the long nights where sleep can be elusive, with all this Covid-19 lockdown business. When travel is prohibited [unless an emergency], and shops remain closed [with exceptions], then health and economic damage weigh heavily on one’s mind – dominating our thoughts. When the solitude becomes a claustrophobic vacuum that is hard to escape – then it’s time to consider bibliotherapy to confront the loneliness and anxiety of this age.
A dear friend of mine, an avid bibliophile would often say to me, “you’re never alone if you have a novel, because books are your friends,” and I would concur, recalling my own bouts of reflective solitude.
Reading for promoting mental health has been shown to be an effective tool, against the black dog [as Winston Churchill described his bouts of depression]. Though there are times it becomes hard to concentrate, to actually read. My strategy is to listen to audiobooks when I can’t read, with a mind all fuzzy with existential angst; thoughts knitting together to create anxiety. There’s much comfort in being read to, especially if the work is sufficiently immersive and hypnotic. It recalls our childhood; of being a developing mind being read stories before bed, as we struggled to understand our world and the scary reality around us.
Recently, audiobooks have become a crucial part of my mental rampart, to keep negative thoughts at bay, to prevent them linking together to create weird [and disturbing] scenarios in my head, in my thinking, because negative and frightening thoughts are not helpful for our mental well-being.
In 2019, I was fortunate to become obsessed by one such immersive [and hypnotic] reading experience – it was Cari Mora by Thomas Harris. Despite receiving a lukewarm [at best] reception, I found it helped control my mind [in a personally difficult year] from becoming derailed by problems that started to grow worryingly in my mind, and developing beyond ‘the blues’ – and I don’t mean John Lee Hooker, or Howlin’ Wolf.
Bibliotherapy is not purely distracting your mind from the troubles in your head, though the distraction, the corralling of one’s thoughts – is important. Bibliotherapy is more than that. It is helps channels one thoughts, by following a narrative, which at its core is viewing the world [aka reality] through someone else’s eyes. Reading books [or listening to them, via Audible] can help with ‘the blues’ and assist in preventing ‘the blues’ from getting worse, as the black dog’s bark can be heard in the streets, echoing inside the minds of people - as they tackle this Covid-Lockdown business, becoming fearful for the future, and that of our children’s and friends’ future.
This article from The Huffington Post explains more –
Whether or not a book can single-handedly tackle a person’s depression is difficult to determine, but positive thinking has been proven to help. According to a Psychology Today article titled “Depression Doing the Thinking,” “One of the most powerful actions you can take in combating depression is to understand how critical the quality of your thinking is to maintaining and even intensifying your depression—and that the quickest way to change how you feel is to change how you think.” The article goes on to explain how negative thoughts can enter one’s mind subconsciously, and therefore seem more raw or true to the depression sufferer than their own moods and feelings.
Read More HERE
So, what am I reading currently that is sufficiently immersive that it can help quell the barking of the black dog?
Actually, I’m ploughing my way through [actually listening to] the dark and disturbing novels of Sarah Denzil from Audible
I was only aware of this writer of dark and complex thriller novels, from an interesting article from the New York Times in 2019 –
Last year, while promoting his debut thriller, “The Woman in the Window,” Dan Mallory praised the tradition of literary mimicry: “It is often said that ‘good writers borrow, great writers steal,’” he said in an interview with The Guardian, borrowing a phrase from T.S. Eliot.
In retrospect, his choice of words was surprisingly honest, a rare acknowledgment in a medium that prizes originality of how deeply he was influenced by other popular thrillers.
Mr. Mallory — who was recently the subject of an exposé in The New Yorker that detailed his past as a habitual liar who feigned fatal illnesses and fabricated a tragic family history — has acknowledged that the plot of his novel, which became a best seller, owes a debt to several famous works, including Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” and Paula Hawkins’s blockbuster thriller, “The Girl on the Train.”
“The Woman in the Window” is also strikingly similar to a novel by Sarah A. Denzil, “Saving April.”
Read More > HERE
So, who is Sarah A Denzil and which books of hers should I listen to and why?
I would urge you to look out for these two interlocking novels, dramatized by Audible studios - SILENT CHILD first and then the upcoming STOLEN GIRL [Release date: 1 March 2021]
Performed by: Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey, Liar), Rosalie Craig (Company, The Queen's Gambit) and Gerran Howell (1917, Catch-22).
The sequel to SILENT CHILD’s dark narrative -
When Emma Price’s daughter Gina is snatched, it is every parent’s nightmare. But Emma has lived the horror before. As the clock ticks, and Gina is still missing, a dark game of cat and mouse begins. Emma and Aiden must piece together the kidnapper’s puzzle, to discover who has taken her – and why.
Emma, Aiden and Gina stand on the brink of a new life. After the trauma of Aiden’s abduction and return, they are slowly healing and returning to a fragile normality. Emma is desperate to protect her children, but the world is fascinated by Aiden, the silent child who is finally learning to speak for himself.
Against her better judgment, Emma allows her son to attend a talk show. Her worse nightmare comes true when her daughter, Gina, is snatched from the studio and a chilling game begins.
Emma is convinced the answers lie in the darkest corners of the family’s past, and that Aiden must be able to work out the puzzle, if only he dare reach into the horrors of his memory.
Silent Child written by Sarah A. Denzil and narrated by: Joanne Froggatt
It became Audible’s 2017 Thriller of the Year
Ten years after witnessing the tragic loss of her son, Emma Price is finally rediscovering the joy in life… until Aiden returns. Too traumatised to speak, he raises endless questions and answers none. Named Audible’s Thriller of the Year in 2017, this exclusive production is the first in an unmissable series by Sarah A. Denzil, performed by the exceptional Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey, Liar). As one Audible Editor commented, ‘it will make your heart beat, your mind race and your spine tingle’.
If you want to read about extraordinary events in the lives of ordinary people, Denzil’s work may provide comfort in this lockdown and the ubiquity of Covid-19.
More information on Audible and their £7.99 / month membership CLICK HERE
More information on the work of Sarah Denzil CLICK HERE
All images © 2017 – 2021 Audible apart from AJ Finn cover of The Woman in the Window © 2017 HarperCollins
Shots Magazine wish to thank Edwina Boyd-Gibbons and Audible studios for their help in this feature article.