Skip to Content
The novel cure: an A-Z of literary remedies

The novel cure: an A-Z of literary remedies

Berthoud, Ella, author; Elderkin, Susan, author

Are you weary in brain and body? Do you desire a positive cure for your pessimism? Do you require Brontë to re-boot your broken heart? Do you despair of your nose? Can Fielding open your flood gates? Or Pynchon purge your paranoia? May we administer Austen to curb your arrogance? Hemingway for your headache? An injection of du Maurier for your low self-esteem? Are you shy, single, stressed or sixty? This is a medical handbook, with a difference. Whether you have a stubbed toe or a severe case of the blues, within these pages you'll find a cure in the form of a novel - or a combination of novels - to help ease your pain. You'll also find advice on how to tackle common reading ailments - such as what to do when you feel overwhelmed by the number of books in the world, or you have a tendency to give up halfway through

Hardback, Book. English.
Published Edinburgh: Canongate, 2013

No availability records for this item


Statement of responsibility: Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin
ISBN: 0857864203, 9780857864208
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Note: Text on lining papers.
Physical Description: 456 pages ; 23 cm
Subject: Fiction History and criticism Theory, etc.; Literature.; Best books.; Bibliotherapy.

Author note

Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin met as English Literature students at Cambridge University, where they began giving novels to each other whenever one of them seemed in need of a boost. Ella went on to study fine art and become a painter and art teacher. Susan became a novelist (Sunset Over Chocolate Mountains and The Voices, both Fourth Estate) and in 2003 was listed by Granta as one of the Twenty Best of Young British Novelists. She also teaches creative writing and writes travel pieces and book reviews for various newspapers.

In 2008 they set up a bibliotherapy service through The School of Life in London, and since then have been prescribing books either virtually or in person to clients all over the world. The Novel Cure is their first book together.


Witty, engaging and informative, The Novel Cure is for anyone who loves reading. It's the sort of book you choose for a friend and end up wanting to keep. My advice would be to buy two
author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry||Witty, warm and wise, I loved this book within moments of dipping in and know I shall be returning to it for a long time to come. It's a wonderful reminder of the restorative power of fiction and ideal for anyone who has ever wondered what on earth to read next
author of BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP||The Novel Cure is a tonic in itself. It's tempting to become a hypochondriac just to read more
author of Maggie & Me||An exuberant pageant of literary fiction and a celebration of the possibilities of the novel
Guardian||Astute and often amusing . . . a charming addition to any library. Time spent leafing through its pages is inspiring - even therapeutic
The Economist||We're hooked
Psychologies||Brilliant . . . A perfect gift
Vogue||This book is a great way to broaden your literary horizons - and an entertaining read in its own right
The Lady||Great fun and wonderfully inspiring, The Novel Cure is a must for any booklover's shelves
The Bookseller, September's best books||Brilliant
Bookseller Editor's Pick||[An] amazing book . . . I suspect it is one that many a reader will want to own and keep to hand for every eventuality. Books about books are always a treat, I have a shelf full of them, but The Novel Cure is different, much more than that and I can see how useful it will be||In times of trouble, a good book can soothe any kind of pain. Longtime friends Berthoud and Elderkin take that notion to a new level in their delightful reference guide to 'bibliotherapy' . . . They tackle serious and not-so-serious ailments with equal verve . . . Berthoud and Elderkin's elegant prose and discussions that span the history of 2,000 years of literature will surely make readers seek out these books. Taking two novellas and calling the bibliotherapists in the morning sounds welcome indeed
Publishers Weekly||Elderkin and Berthoud handle their varied subject matter deftly. The Novel Cure remains serious without taking itself too seriously, gives advice without preaching and advocates, with warmth and humour, the importance of literature as a therapeutic medium... A note of caution, however, if reading The Novel Cure on public transport: it will make you laugh. Very loudly
Sydney Morning Herald||