You may have seen this post from a couple of years ago which referred to 'bibliotherapy'. Well, the ladies behind that service have now put their knowledge and advice in book form, and with a copy of The Novel Cure: An A to Z of Literary Remedies by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin to hand, anyone can take a 'literary tonic' for whatever ails them.
This is a welcome addition to my 'books about books' shelf, and something with which to have a lot of fun, so I'll give you the blurb first and then we can play with the book!
"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? Are your Vital Statistics in need of some Spark? May we massage you with Murakami? Ease your pain with Woolf or Wodehouse? Do you require the Very Book to lessen your Loneliness?...
This is "a new approach to fuelling your reading list and a chance to see the books on your shelves with fresh eyes". It's pretty comprehensive, too, featuring both classics and contemporary novels (and it's right up to date for I notice Peggy Riley's Amity & Sorrow is one of the 'prescriptions'), and while it's arranged alphabetically by general ailment, it also has a separate list of 'reading ailments', and then an index of lists, and one of novels and authors so that you can see at a glance what a particular book would be good for.
To give you an idea, I'll take a few examples of the above at random.
From the A-Z of Ailments: boredom; friends, in need of; regret; extravagance; bad back; confrontation, fear of; brainy, being exceptionally.
From the index of Reading Ailments: guilt, reading associated; skim, tendency to; hype, put off by; new books, seduced by; book-buyer, being a compulsive.
From the index of lists: the ten best - audio books, novels for duvet days, escapist novels, novels to make you laugh, novels for seeming well-read.
The index of novels and authors is self-explanatory, but I thought that if you have a particular favourite and you'd like to know whether it is prescribed for some ailment or other, then leave a comment and I'll look it up for you. For instance, my much-loved To Kill a Mockingbird is in under "coward, being a" and "single parent, being a", each entry giving me just enough synopsis and comment to have me picking up the book, so please name a book or an author and if they are listed I'll tell you what you should 'take them' for.