Friday, January 23, 2015

The Novel Cure - Ella Berthoud & Susan Elderkin

Some books have to come to you as presents; books you quite want but somehow hesitate to buy because there's always something more pressing, books that languish on wish lists because you can have 3 paperbacks for the same price, books that are a subtly different form of self indulgence to the ones you normally buy. (I accept that this might be just me.) in my case these books are invariably reference of some sort and 'The Novel Cure' is the perfect example. As it turns out the generous doner of this particular volume felt the same way about. Are some books always destined to be given as gifts?

Anyway I'd had my eye on it for a while before my (dear) friend took the hint and gave it to me for Christmas. It's full of things I like - descriptions of books, lists of books, amusing index based jokes - and is not one of those 1001 whatever's you gave to do/try/see/read before you die affairs which I loathe with a totally irrational passion. Berthoud and Elderkin (presumably still) run a bibliotherepy service which, if I understand correctly, matches readers to books, which sounds sort of fun and also something that could only thrive in places like London.

The charm for me in this book is in the A-Z index of things that you might want a cure for. I like a good index (I can't afford to go out much so have to make my own fun) and this one is enjoyably tongue in cheek (occasionally laugh out loud funny). There are also top ten lists (does anybody ever look at those without violently disagreeing with 8 out of 10 books on it?), plenty of sensible advice (which I'm unlikely to take) about controlling book buying habits and other common problems that beset compulsive book buyers and readers. There are also hundreds and hundreds of recommended books, a fraction of which I've read. As far as the rest go there's another fraction I might read but the bulk of them will probably never come my way or ever entice me out of my way to find them which doesn't in the least effect the pleasure of reading about them.

Dipping in and out of 'The Novel Cure' also has the feeling of browsing somebody else's library, which is another pleasure. The selection is suitably eclectic so if this were a library it's one I'd very much enjoy spending time in. In short it's a perfect bedside book and a very good present indeed.


  1. It is a great book. Mine sits on a bookshelf and catches my eye when I go past now and again and I dip in and find something random to read. I have yet to take any of their advice yet!

  2. Books like this are great to look for things you might not otherwise have read and great for throwing out things about books already read that I might not have considered at the time. Very pleased with it indeed.