BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Bea Reviews The Novel Cure: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin

Publisher: Penguin Books 
Format Read: paperback
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: December 30, 2014
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | ARe*/OmniLit | Barnes & Noble |
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Blurb from goodreads:

Publisher's Weekly
"Delightful... elegant prose and discussions that span the history of 2,000 years of literature."

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.

Library Journal
"This appealing and helpful read is guaranteed to double the length of a to-read list and become a go-to reference for those unsure of their reading identities or who are overwhelmed by the sheer number of books in the world.

Bea's Thoughts:

First off, let me say that I did not read this all the way through, from beginning to end. It's not really that kind of book. It's a reference book and as such, you can bounce around, looking up only what you need or are interested in. The book lists a variety of illnesses and ailments and that's where it got confusing. The Categorizations were sometimes odd as some seemingly-obvious topic titles didn't exist, while others had "see topic X" when topic X seemed to make less sense than the topic I tried to look up. There are physical ailments, emotional ailments, and psychological ailments and they range from flu to loneliness to being locked out to social climbing. Let me hasten to say that the book doesn't try to sell itself as a cure-all or serious medical advice and the authors do urge you to seek treatment for actual ailments. The book is a fun way to step outside yourself and look at your condition from a different perspective.

One fun thing that I really enjoyed was the inclusion of reading ailments. They were sprinkled in here and there among the 'serious' ailments and included cures. A sampling of reading ailments - Guilt, reading associated; Sci-fi, fear of; and Depletion of library through lending. These were fun and really showcased the humor of both authors. 

Some of the book choices were odd and some I'd never heard of. The latter means that the book can be used as a tool to find new books to read, maybe introducing a new title to you or giving a you a teaser of a book you've been hearing about. I was disappointed that there weren't more genre choices; most of the books I saw on the pages I browsed (remember, I didn't read the whole thing) were from the literature or general fiction categories. I'm a genre reader so I would have liked more genre options. Still, the book is pleasant to browse, and I bounced from topic to topic, happily following links and trying to find topics of interest. Did I mention that this book works really for browsing and reading, not in a linear fashion, but in a circuitous fashion?

"A Novel Cure" was fun if occasionally dry, and a different way of looking at what ails you and how to ameliorate it. Plus it's a good reference tool for finding books and learning a little more about them.


  1. I love the idea of this book as I use books as therapy all the time! I know like you I wouldn't read it from cover to cover but it is one I'd love to dip in and out of.
    And lol about the reading ailments, I bet I've got them all!

    1. It's fun to poke around and jump from topic to topic.

      The reading ailments were fun and I wouldn't be surprised if we have them all.

  2. This sounds like a fun concept but one I think I'd rather get from the library than actually buy. The reading ailments especially sound entertaining. There should be one for the stress of having to figure out where to store all the books!


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