Years ago, one of the first books I had my patients read was psychiatrist David D. Burn's Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. What I like about this book is the lack of psychobabble terminology and self-help cliches. There are easy to read explanations of depression and other mood disorders and excellent examples of cognitive behavioral techniques (CBT) that can be practiced at home.
I'm a visual learner. You can tell me something, but if I read it, I will digest the information quicker and better. Many people tell me they also process new material better when they read it. It also gives them something to work on between therapy sessions. I've found that reading about psychiatric disorders also takes the patient out of the emotional/psychological mode and into the intellectual. It's often less threatening to read objective, factual information.
Medical and behavioral health journals divide these bibliotherapy books into two categories: those with proven clinical trials behind them and self-help books (that are often on the best-seller lists) that don't and that are often written by people without credentials in the mental health field. These trials are often conducted the way drug research is done, comparing the patients' depressive symptoms who read the books with patients who don't ("placebo") and haven't received any treatment in a "before treatment and after treatment" format.
The Journal article cites a helpful guide composed by John Norcross, a University of Scranton professor of psychology and researcher on the effectiveness of self-help books - The Authoritative Guide To Self-Help Resources in Mental Health. The book is based on five acclaimed national studies involving over 2,500 mental health professionals and it reviews and rates 600+ books.
Proponents of bibliotherapy suggest that it is effective on mild to moderate depressive and mood disorder symptoms and best done in conjunction with traditional visits to a credentialed therapist. It also shouldn't be considered as a substitute for medication if your health practitioner has prescribed that as part of your treatment.