THE NOVEL CURE by Ella Berthoud

THE NOVEL CURE

From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You

KIRKUS REVIEW

A comprehensive introduction to the fine art of “bibliotherapy,” with a list of 751 books to soothe your aches and pains.

It seems a bit whimsical to suggest that books are a cure for those conditions, both chronic and fleeting, that plague us through our collective lives. Yet the practice has long been an accepted form of treatment for conditions ranging from depression to PTSD. Having run a bibliotherapy service in London since 2008, Berthoud and Elderkin offer an A-to-Z guide to selected books, along with ailment-specific practices and helpful lists. “Some treatments will lead to a complete cure,” they write. “Others will simply offer solace, showing you that you are not alone. All will offer the temporary relief of your symptoms due to the power of literature to distract and transport.” Their literary selections run heavily to classics and contemporary literary fiction, unfortunately, but the disorders they’ve chosen are often clever, and the occasional a-ha surprise does pop up here and there. “Children, Under Pressure to Have” solicits a biting summary of Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, while “Jump Ship, Desire To” naturally leads to John Updike’s classic Rabbit, Run. Some, too, can be startling, like pointing to Luke Rhinehart’s cult classic The Dice Man as a cure for gambling or to Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife as solace for miscarriage. There’s humor, too, as in “Tea, Unable to Fine a Cup Of” (see: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams). Lists, meanwhile, run the gamut from “Best Books to Read in the Bathroom” to “The Ten Best Audiobooks for Road Rage.” The authors also helpfully offer a variety of cures for conditions like “Guilt, Reading Associated,” and “Overwhelmed by the Number of Books in the World.”

Something of a novelty collection of entries, but a fine remedy for bibliophiles and English majors who may be stuck in a reading rut.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-59420-516-3
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Penguin Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2013




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