The Novel Cure


NEW this week…

The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness; 751 Books to Cure What Ails You by Ella Berhoud & Susan Elderkin

1.5 of 5 stars

An A to Z encyclopedia of ailments, with book recommendations for each condition.

Lovers of literature have been using novels as salves — either consciously or subconsciously — for centuries.  Next time you’re feeling in need of a pick-me-up or require assistance with an emotional tangle, reach for a novel.

I’d never heard of bibliotherapy before reading this book, but I would never discount the ability of a book to be able to influence a person’s mood.  Obviously, it happens all the time.  Yet even if I were a true believer, I found this particular book a little hard to swallow.  The biggest problem I found was that I didn’t actually know whether the authors wanted me to take them seriously or not.

Aside from having many, many books I’d never even heard of (nor could I find in my local library’s catalog) and skipping over some combinations I’d have thought would be obvious, other ailment book “cures” seemed mighty peculiar to me.  Wuthering Heights making a list of “best breakup novels”?  The Count of Monte Cristo for “best novels for a plane flight”?  At times, I wasn’t sure if the authors were being facetious or serious.

What I got out of this book, more than anything else, was that people glean different lessons from novels.  A novel that might make one person laugh, can make another cry, and vice versa, and that there’s a lot of books out there that deal with every subject under the sun.  I’m just not sure that I need a book to tell me that.


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