A Novel for Everything (And We Mean Everything) That Ails You [SHOWING SLIDE 2 OF 10]

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.

by Ken Kesey

To cure selfishness: Selfishness, it seems, has become a positive personality trait these days. Look after your own needs first, the self-help books exhort. It’s time to take inspiration from one of our favorite characters in literature: Randle Patrick McMurphy, the bold and brassy Irishman in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey’s 1962 expose of psychiatric institutions, EST and lobotomies. With his “big wide-open laugh” and absolute refusal to be cowed, McMurphy storms into the lives of the Acutes and the Chronics of the loony bin—damaged men, abandoned by the society that created them—and changes them forever.