THE NOVEL CURE – Ella Berthoud & Susan Elderkind
  Book Reviews    June 25, 2015     Eric Larkin

This is the cheapest healthcare on the market: physical, mental, emotional. It’s like having Gandalf in your pocket. Advice, empathy, soothing balms, a kick in the butt – the medicinal properties of novels are identified, organized and prescribed for nearly every ailment you could think of, right here in this holistic, paper physician.

Broken heart? Try Jane Eyre and/or Niall Williams’ As It Is In Heaven. “When afflicted you have no choice, at least not initially, but to sit down with a big box of tissues, another of chocolates, and a novel that will open up the tear ducts and allow you to cry yourself a river…. (see also: Appetite, loss of * Despair * Hope, loss of * Sadness * Turmoil * Yearning, general)”

Broken leg?  Cleave by Nikki Gemmell – “Muse as you read on the relationship of cleave (“to split”) to cleave (“to stick fast to”). It will help you visualize the cleft nature of your bone and therefore speed up its new cleaving.”

This is not a gag book; Berthoud and Elderkind tell you why each novel works for its target difficulty. Nausea, Headache and all the most common ailments are covered and even discomforts as wide-ranging as PMS and Hiccups. There is a ton of humor, but serious illnesses like depression and cancer are not treated glibly. There is a bewildering array of issues addressed: from Homelessness to Humorlessness, Schadenfreude to “Seize the Day, Failure To”. There are lists of the top ten books to read for each decade of your life, as well as pinpointed lists for everything from breakups to lowering your blood pressure. There’s even a list of reading ailments, like “Sci Fi, Stuck On” or “Skim, Tendency To”.

You’ll still need to procure the actual novels – that’s the real medicine – but the bedside manner and discretion of this doctor can not be beat. Best of all, it’s fun to read even when you don’t need it. That’s called preventative medicine. It’s way better than choking down a spirulina soy smoothie [shudder].

Not sure about all this?  Check out this New Yorker piece.

You can buy it from us! 


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