I can’t remember where I first heard of the book The Novel Cure, but I have to say, I’m taking a closer look. This book, by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin (introduction can be read here), is filled with so-called “medical advice”, promising to cure everything from the physical (broken legs) to the emotional (divorce or moving to a new house) by prescribing…novels. Yes, this book promises “literary remedies”, prescribing books for you to read to heal yourself. As a scientist and avid reader, I must say I’m intrigued.
The authors call themselves “bibliotherapists” (one is an art teacher and the other is a writer and fiction reviewer). Since 2008, they have prescribed books from The School for Life (London) to people from all over the world. As the authors say, people have been trying to “fix” themselves for decades with self-help books, so why should fiction by treated any differently? Besides, can any reader truly say that they haven’t already done something similar on their own – have you not reached for that old favorite, the comfortable, familiar, much-loved novel whenever you have suffered a personal setback? The authors make a good case, but I’m eager to see what exactly they prescribe and for what ailment.
It looks like tongue-in-cheek, good fun, but I think I will need to get a copy to investigate further. So stay tuned as I get a copy and look into “literary remedies”. If you have already read the book, please comment and say if you liked it!