Music & Mental Health

Book Recommendations on Music & Mental Health


(a) Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (Fiction) by Oliver Sacks 

With the same trademark compassion and erudition, he brought to The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Oliver Sacks explores the place music occupies in the brain and how it affects the human condition. In Musicophilia, he shows us a variety of what he calls “musical misalignments.” Among them: a man struck by lightning who suddenly desires to become a pianist at the age of forty-two; an entire group of children with Williams syndrome, who are hyper musical from birth; people with “amusia,” to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans; and a man whose memory spans only seven seconds - for everything but music. Illuminating, inspiring, and utterly unforgettable, Musicophilia is Oliver Sacks' memorable masterpiece. 


(b) This is Your Brain on Music (Non-fiction) by Daniel Levitin 

This book takes a deep dive into why we, as humans, are obsessed with music and why music is even more significant to us than language. He charts the impact of music on our evolution as humans; and also, how and why it impacts our emotional lives. A novel new approach to our understanding of music and what it tells us about ourselves as humans. 

(c)The Singing Neanderthals (Non-fiction) by Professor Steven Mithen 

Award-winning science writer Steven Mithen focuses on the role of music as a very important part of the human experience and culture throughout history. By sourcing examples from child psychology to the communication systems of other primates to the latest paleoarchaeological evidence, he makes a solid case for how music is responsible for the development of language. A fascinating and interesting read.

(d) Tune In: A Music Therapy Approach to Life (Non-fiction) by Jennifer Buchanan 

Music therapy works! This is the book that makes the case for it and shouts it out loud and proud. By Certified Music Therapist Jennifer Buchanan, she convinces readers of the enormous benefits of music therapy – she brings influential anecdotes as well as tools and techniques to reduce stress, boost morale and restore health using music. Even in our darkest moments – we can find a sense of piece and wellbeing in music – because of music’s triggering powers on emotion. An enlightening and ear-opening read! 




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You might also find it helpful to explore these feelings in a bibliotherapy session or learn some bibliotherapy techniques to help you process these feelings by completing our online Bibliotherapy, Literature and Mental Health course or our book Bibliotherapy: The Healing Power of Reading.

A big hello and thank you for reading! Passionate about literature, psychology, and life I launched Book Therapy as an alternative form of therapy using the power of literature. I train mental health professionals, librarians, teachers as well as readers on using bibliotherapy in their own work through our online Bibliotherapy, Literature and Mental Health course. We also curate reading lists/personalised book prescriptions for clients based on their individual needs. This is our signature personalised reading service.

You can also check out Book Therapy’s other free reading lists and A- Z of book prescriptions (covering both fiction and non-fiction). These suggest books based on your existing life situation (e.g. anxiety, job change, relationship heartache) as well as interests (e.g memoir, historical fiction, non-fiction, crime etc). There’s also a Children’s A — Z of Book Prescriptions. Feel free to check out the blog for more literary gems. There’s also a post on my personal story of how I entered the world of bibliotherapy and book curation.

In this role, I have had the opportunity to publish two books called Bibliotherapy: The Healing Power of Reading and The Happiness Mindset, and write various literary essays and pieces for newspapers and magazines. I have undertaken bibliotherapy workshops for The United Nations, various libraries in New York and corporate organisations in the UK and US. My book recommendations have featured in the Guardian, Marie Claire, NBC News, Asian Voice, New York Observer, Sydney Telegraph and various other publications. If you are a parent you might enjoy a podcast I’ve recorded with speech and language therapist Sunita Shah on Raising A Reader & Storyteller. And if you’d like to connect, email me at or

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