Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin’s The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You is something to behold: an encyclopedia of maladies both spiritual and physical; under each malady’s heading, the writers suggest books that will help you overcome that particular problem. Feeling indecisive? There’s a book for that. Caring for someone with cancer? These ladies know what you should be reading. Eclectic and infectious, The Novel Cure is one of the most revealing and bracing books about books to come along in some time. We’ve chosen 10 problems the authors highlight in The Novel Cure and excerpted a bit of their reasoning as to why these particular books will help you conquer what ails you.
To cure obesity: For a beautifully simple cure for obesity, follow the advice of Mrs. Hawkins, the double-chinned heroine of A Far Cry From Kensington, Muriel Spark’s mischievous satire of the publishing industry in postwar London. Mrs. Hawkins is liberal with her advice and doles it out on such far-ranging topics as finding a job, writing a book, improving your concentration, getting married, how to say no, where to go if you've had a lot of trouble, and how to deal with too much casual correspondence. But her tip for losing weight is the best: eat half of what you would normally eat. “I offer this advice without fee,” she says. “It is included in the price of this book.” We bought her novel, and are now including the advice free in the price of ours.*
*The novel also contains a more complicated cure for obesity, though this isn’t included in the price of our book. You will have to read A Far Cry From Kensington and work it out for yourself.