The novel cure

An A-Z of Literary Remedies
Sometimes when you wake up, your first thought is: I just can’t do today.

Maybe you’ve been dumped by your lover, maybe you’re feeling old before your time, or the muzak in your local mall is a reminder that you have only twenty-something days left to slap Christmas into shape. Whatever your problem, it’s a Duvet Day and The Novel Cure has the book for you.

The authors, Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin, call their discipline Bibliotherapy (the prescribing of fiction for life’s ailments.) If that sounds exactly like library work to you, let me  remind you that not only have they written this book, they also run sell-out Bibliotherapy sessions and retreats in the UK. So it does beg the question: Why didn’t we think of this first? And if this just lowers your feelings of self esteem, they have a cure for that too – The Shipping News (Annie Proulx). It should cheer you right up!

Presented in alphabetical order and engagingly written, the authors suggest reads for everything from abandonment to zestlessness and all manner of malaise in-between. There are fascinating book lists as well, my favourite being The Ten Best Audio Books for Road Rage. I do have one small quibble and that is the unhealthy pallor of the cover that has been selected. Surely something with rosier cheeks would have been better?

In fact this is far from the only Book about Books out there. The library has 221 items on this topic and you can find a really good list of them right here: like Book Lust to Go (novels for the traveller) and 12 Books that Changed the World by Melvyn Bragg. After a while though, reading these compendiums starts to make me feel quite queasy – don’t read them like a course of  antibiotics (once started must complete entire course). Instead you need to dip into these books, with long palate cleansing activity bouts in-between.

And if, after all this, you still feel you could have put together a superior compilation (The Novel Cure has suggestions to control feelings of both jealousy and competitiveness by the way), you can do that too – right here on our Best Reads of 2013 page. And if even a list is beyond you right now, just tell us your favourite Cheer Me Up read right here on this blog!