Joseph Gold is a professor of literature as well as a family therapist. In fact, sometimes he combines the two specialties in a practice of 'bibliotherapy".
He says," When you read fiction or poetry you experience feelings, emotions, as well as thoughts and images. You see pictures in your mind and you have feelings associated with the pictures. Most people are not in the habit of identifying these feelings or even of being aware of them. When you learn to do this, you can use your feelings about what you read to explore yourself, your relations, your attitudes to job, home, sex, children and parents, aging, death, and religion. There is a direct link between what you feel about stories and what you feel about everything else, especially about yourself."
I really appreciated his visual of 'a path'. Imagine you have a favourite path that you know well and walk often. It is mapped into your brain. But, one, day, it is blocked- by flood or fallen trees. "Your life story is like this path, and when it is blocked by grief or loss, unforeseen events such as war, job loss, earthquake, or divorce, it may feel to the sufferer that the path or story cannot be continued or recovered."
Perhaps everyone is looking for empowerment, in one way or another. I enjoy books that show the resilience of women. My husband reads about war, actually, but his favourite author, Jeff Shaara, also writes about resilience. He relates individual stories of resilience in the face of the horrors of war. "Resilience"- we all need it to live a full life.