The Novel Cure

I love books.  Buying books, reading books and talking about books.  I love the look, smell and feel of a book.

Good things come out of book club.  Friendships, connections and book recommendations but even the most enthusiastic of readers can lack direction at times, which is why I was thrilled to stumble across THE NOVEL CURE earlier this year

I saw authors Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin, hanging out the back of a vintage French ambulance, dressed as nurses and offering a cure…in the form of a book.  Terrified of self-help books (which to me feel like the antithesis of literature), I almost walked on.

However, as a good bibliophile, I couldn’t resist picking up their stylish book (a grey, linen-look hardback, with simple orange lettering) and it fell open at the word CYNICISM.   Me?  A Cynic?  I’m sure SOME self help books are good reads, right?

It read “…….when cynicism makes a turn towards mass rejection of society and all its values, we feel the need to administer a stern lecture on the importance of social responsibility….followed by regular draughts of something truly and deeply restorative.  For this we prescribe repeated immersions in H.E. Bates highly efficacious THE DARLING BUDS OF MAY and its four sequels”

It continued, finishing with “Let Pop’s sheer exuberance, and his refusal to be blighted by killjoys, infect you too.  Life is ‘perfick’ if you choose to see it so.”

Their cure is in the form of literature.

Hook, line and sinker, I bought THE NOVEL CURE for myself and have since bought copies for friends.  I also booked a ‘session’ with the authors – telling them that my problem was a need for “short but intense reads”:  short enough to allow people the time to finish it for a book club date but meaty enough to include discussion points.   ON CHESIL BEACH by Ian McKewan was my example or THE SENSE OF AN ENDING Julian Barnes.

The Novel Cure gals suggested a selection of books – none of which I had read:

  • HOTEL WORLD by Ali Smith – even after I admitted that I hadn’t enjoyed the critically acclaimed ‘The Accidental’
  • BONJOUR TRISTESSE  by Francoise Sagan – a classic I have never read
  • POBBY & DINGAN by Ben Rice – their number one recommendation and,
  • YEAR OF THE HARE by Arto Paasilinna


For Christmas 2013 I gifted  THE NOVEL CURE and for our 2014 book club choices, I will refer to my copy.

When you need to forget the pain in your head, heart or body, when you’re waiting for a bus that never comes; when you want to press ‘eject’ on the daily grind, decamp with one of these:



Captain Corelli’s Mandolin LOUIS DE BERNIERES

Jamrach’s Menagerie CAROL BIRCH

The Savage Detectives ROBERTO BOLANO

A Passage to India EM FORESTER


A Town Like Alice NEVIL SHUTE

The Map of Love AHDAF SOUEIF

Dreams of Leaving RUPERT THOMSON

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle DAVID WROBLEWSKI

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