Get a book prescription at the Primadonna Festival!

Ella Berthoud, a professional bibliotherapist

Ella Berthoud, a professional bibliotherapist - Credit: Ella Berthoud

Visitors to the Primadonna Festival in Suffolk this weekend can take part in bibliotherapy sessions to learn about the health benefits of reading - and get a book prescription. 

Ella Berthoud, a professional bibliotherapist, artist and writer, will be one of many guests at the festival, which starts today, Friday July 29. 

The Primadonna Festival, which is on until Sunday, July 31 at The Food Museum in Stowmarket, promotes community power and creates a space for all kinds of writers, readers, anyone interested in ideas and those who just want to have a lot of fun.    

Ella Berthoud during a book challenge

Ella Berthoud during a book challenge - Credit: Ella Berthoud

During the festival, everybody can take part in a quick bibliotherapy session and get a book prescription. 

Ella, whose parents have strong connections with Suffolk, said: “People can come to me to talk about what's happening in their life at the moment and also about what kind of books they like to read. 

“It’s also important where they read and how they read, and whether they read by listening to audiobooks or just reading on a Kindle.  

Ella Berthoud during a book challenge

Ella Berthoud during a book challenge - Credit: Ella Berthoud

“I talk to them about their reading profile and also about what might be happening in their life, if they have any major preoccupations or worries. 

“Then I prescribe perfect books for them to read at this time in their life.” 

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Ella, who lives in Brighton, studied English Literature at Cambridge as well as Fine Art at the University of East London and travelled around the world from an early age, as her father was a diplomat. 

During Ella’s 30 years of experience, she read thousands of books and has a “special sense” of choosing books for people. 

Ella Berthoud during a book challenge

Ella Berthoud during a book challenge - Credit: Ella Berthoud

Ella, who reads four books per week, said that bibliotherapy is “an art, not a science”. 

The bibliotherapist, together with Susan Elderkin, published a book called “The Novel Cure”. 

Ella said: “It’s a book where you can look up any ailment from apathy to loneliness, moving house, to getting a divorce, and we give you a prescription what's the perfect book for you to read at this time in your life." 

The bibliotherapist, whose favourite book is ‘Jitterbug Perfume’ by Tom Robbins, recommends reading fiction every day.  

She said: “Reading for just six minutes a day is as good for your brain as meditation for an hour.” 

Ella will be giving free short individual bibliotherapy sessions during the Primadonna Festival on Friday from 5 to 6 pm and on Saturday from 10 to 11 am.