Sunday, October 16, 2016
The Novel Cure by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin
Are you dealing with a loss of faith or the loss of a loved one? Do big books frighten you or are you having trouble concentrating? Are you a compulsive book buyer? (That's a yes on that last one for me.) Whatever it is that ails you or whatever conundrum you find yourself in, there is a book for that according to Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin.
Apparently the idea of using books as a cure for emotional or mental turmoil is known as bibliotherapy. I'm not sure to what extent bibliotherapy is actually used as a genuine treatment option but I do believe that sometimes the right book at the right time can be just what you need when you can't sleep, are sad, lonely, or confused. It can calm a person down or spur her into action. The Novel Cure can help you find that book when you need it. Even just reading The Novel Cure might be the cure you need.
Berthoud and Elderkin have taken great care in not only putting together a selection of books for a variety of ailments, but explaining the reasoning behind their selections. Their reasons are funny, insightful, and gently admonishing when necessary. One of my favorite examples is the entry for vengeance. For that they recommend Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. In explaining the general plot of that, ahem awful, novel they explain the utter futility of seeking vengeance.
I have one small quibble and it is really more a question of format rather than context. There is no table of contents, at least in the paperback edition I have. I read the book page by page which is fine for an initial read through but it would be great to be able to quickly skip to a wanted section. There are author and title indexes but they are not as useful as a table of contents would be. Beyond this one tiny quibble I would absolutely recommend The Novel Cure to just about anyone. I would especially recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Nancy Pearl's Book Lust. If Book Lust is an appetizer, The Novel Cure is a three course meal plus dessert.