The Novel Cure : From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You
by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin

Overview - "The Guardian" (UK)
"An exuberant pageant of literary fiction and a celebration of the possibilities of the novel."
A novel is a story transmitted from the novelist to the reader. It offers distraction, entertainment, and an opportunity to unwind or focus.

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More About The Novel Cure by Ella Berthoud; Susan Elderkin
"The Guardian" (UK)
"An exuberant pageant of literary fiction and a celebration of the possibilities of the novel."
A novel is a story transmitted from the novelist to the reader. It offers distraction, entertainment, and an opportunity to unwind or focus. But it can also be something more powerful--a way to learn about how to live. Read at the right moment in your life, a novel can--quite literally--change it.
"The Novel Cure "is a reminder of that power. To create this apothecary, the authors have trawled two thousand years of literature for novels that effectively promote happiness, health, and sanity, written by brilliant minds who knew what it meant to be human and wrote their life lessons into their fiction. Structured like a reference book, readers simply look up their ailment, be it agoraphobia, boredom, or a midlife crisis, and are given a novel to read as the antidote. Bibliotherapy does not discriminate between pains of the body and pains of the head (or heart). Aware that you've been cowardly? Pick up "To Kill a Mockingbird "for an injection of courage. Experiencing a sudden, acute fear of death? Read "One Hundred Years of""Solitude "for some perspective on the larger cycle of life. Nervous about throwing a dinner party? Ali Smith's "There but for The "will convince you that yours could never go "that "wrong. Whatever your condition, the prescription is simple: a novel (or two), to be read at regular intervals and in nice long chunks until you finish. Some treatments will lead to a complete cure. Others will offer solace, showing that you're not the first to experience these emotions. "The Novel Cure "is also peppered with useful lists and sidebars recommending the best novels to read when you're stuck in traffic or can't fall asleep, the most important novels to read during every decade of life, and many more.
Brilliant in concept and deeply satisfying in execution, "The Novel Cure "belongs on everyone's bookshelf and in every medicine cabinet. It will make even the most well-read fiction aficionado pick up a novel he's never heard of, and see familiar ones with new eyes. Mostly, it will reaffirm literature's ability to distract and transport, to resonate and reassure, to change the way we see the world and our place in it.
"The Economist"
"Astute and often amusing . . . a charming addition to any library. Time spent leafing through its pages is inspiring - even therapeutic."

  • ISBN-13: 9781594205163
  • ISBN-10: 1594205167
  • Publisher: Penguin Group USA
  • Publish Date: September 2013
  • Page Count: 420

Related Categories

Books > Literary Criticism > Books & Reading
Books > Self-Help > General

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-07-08
  • Reviewer: Staff

In times of trouble, a good book can soothe any kind of pain. Longtime friends Berthoud and Elderkin take that notion to a new level in their delightful reference guide to “bibliotherapy”—“the prescribing of fiction for life’s ailments.” In each case, the authors (who have run a bibliotherapy service since 2008) prescribe a book or two to propel readers to action, bring about awareness or diversion, or show that things are not as bleak as they might seem. They tackle serious and not-so-serious ailments with equal verve, delving into such topics as “Scars, Emotional” (Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night or Antonya Nelson’s Bound), “Pessimism” (Robinson Crusoe), and “Burning the dinner” (Zola’s The Belly of Paris). Eclectic top 10 lists are peppered throughout, such as the “Ten Best Novels to Lower Your Blood Pressure” or the “Ten Best Novels to Make You Weep.” Abundant indices allow the reader to browse by author or title and to search for reading problem advice. Berthoud and Elderkin’s elegant prose and discussions that span the history of 2,000 years of literature will surely make readers seek out these books. Taking two novellas and calling the bibliotherapist in the morning sounds welcome indeed. Agent: Claire Alexander, Aitken Alexander Associates. (Sept.)

BookPage Reviews

Unique offerings for the devoted book lover

If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary for the bibliophiles on your list, here’s a collection of notable new releases that includes books about books, artwork made from books, a richly illustrated classic and more. Because books really do make the best gifts!

The singular mind of Umberto Eco takes readers on a tour of fabled places in literature and folklore in The Book of Legendary Lands. In this lavishly illustrated book, Eco explores “lands and places that, now or in the past, have created chimeras, utopias, and illusions because a lot of people really thought they existed or had existed somewhere.” From Atlantis to Camelot, 21B Baker Street to Dracula’s castle, he contemplates why these places are invented and why our imaginations have embraced them. The more than 300 color illustrations range from the canvases of Bosch, Rossetti and Magritte, to illustrations by Arthur Rackham and N.C. Wyeth, to movie stills and book jackets. At once intellectually stimulating and visually stunning, The Book of Legendary Lands is a distinctive gift for the serious reader.


Some book lovers may shudder at the prospect of their precious books being “altered, sculpted, carved, and transformed” into something other than, well, books, but there can be no denying that the creations made by artists and displayed in Laura Heyenga’s Art Made from Books are dazzling to behold. Twenty-seven artists who use books as their primary material have fashioned everything from jewelry to chess sets out of all different kinds of books. Some, like Cara Barer, transform the books themselves into sculptural objects, while others, such as Jennifer Collier, make mock household items like shoes and knives. Alex Queral carves celebrity faces into phone books. Better seen than described, Art Made from Books is whimsical and inspirational, and begs the question—could any of these gorgeous artworks be made with e-readers?


From its very title, Joseph Conrad’s masterwork, Heart of Darkness, conjures the murky jungle of the Congo and Marlow’s dark passage deep into the human psyche. But, in the arresting artwork by Matt Kish in this new illustrated edition of the classic (a follow-up to his art-enhanced edition of Moby-Dick), there is as much light as darkness. When he was contemplating how to convey the story pictorially, Kish realized that “Conrad’s Africa, the scene of so much death, so much killing, so much horror, would not be a dark place in the literal sense.” The 100 drawings are awash with bright acid greens, diseased yellows and blood reds. The haunting images have a Day of the Dead quality, with skeletal figures and skull-like faces. The effect is at once unsettling and compelling, inviting readers to consider a fresh interpretation of this ageless, seminal work.


Beatrix Potter’s first and most famous book originally bore the longer title of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Mr. McGregor’s Garden, and as Marta McDowell makes abundantly clear in her lovely book, Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life, the lure of the garden was an essential aspect of the writer’s life. Potter bought her beloved Hill Top Farm, in England’s Lake District, when she was nearly 40, and in time transformed it into her own version of paradise. This volume is a cornucopia of delights for anyone who shares Potter’s love of gardening, as well as those who simply love her enduring work. McDowell provides a congenial biography of Potter as observed through the prism of her gardens, and follows her through a year in the garden. There is valuable information for travelers planning to visit not only Hill Top, but also other English gardens that shaped Potter’s horticultural passions, and an appendix that details all of the plants Potter grew and those she featured in her books. Copiously illustrated with photographs and Potter’s own drawings, this charming work is a must for the book-loving gardener or garden-loving bibliophile.


A Circus of Puffins? A Shiver of Sharks? What lover of words doesn’t relish the cleverness of collective nouns? A band of four friends who form Woop Studios (two of whom were graphic designers on the Harry Potter movies) offer the dazzling, richly colorful A Compendium of Collective Nouns. From an Armory of Aardvarks to a Zeal of Zebras—and everything in between—they have compiled some 2,000 examples. Full-page, full-color illustrations with a cheery retro feel are supplemented with dozens of smaller pictures scattered throughout the text. A Charm of Words to delight logophiles, for sure.


As a reader, you probably already know that books can be good for what ails you. Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin have taken this notion to the logical next step with The Novel Cure. Modeled on a home medical handbook, this witty compendium prescribes just the right book—751 different remedies in all—to combat both physical and psychological disorders. Lost your job? Read Bartleby, the Scrivener or Lucky Jim. Nauseated? Try Brideshead Revisited (if not for Sebastian’s nausea, the authors point out, Charles Ryder would never have gone to Brideshead). The Debt to Pleasure will help the gluttonous, and Crime and Punishment will help assuage guilt. For ailments without a simple cure—the common cold, fear of flying, snoring—the authors supply lists of the 10 best books to get you through.

BAM Customer Reviews