The Novel Cure might be our desert island book as the books Berthoud and Elderkin write about are conjured up so brilliantly, you almost don’t need to actually follow through and read them – it’s the perfect portable library of everything!
Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin met as English Literature students at Cambridge University where they discovered their shared love of reading and recommending books. In 2008 when Alain de Botton started The School of Life they set up their Bibliotherapy service. If you feel your reading life needs a bit of direction or just want a hugely enjoyable experience you can pay for a consultation. You get an hour-long analysis session (the most fun part of the process – think of it as the best conversation about books you will ever have with anyone) and then a prescription of recommended reading.
The Novel Cure came out in 2013 and was their first foray into print, taking all their knowledge and experience and putting it into this joy of a book that contains hundreds of brilliant book suggestions.
Flicking through for something addressing a current preoccupation of ours – what to wear after so many months of schlubbing around the house in jeans and a jumper – we came across the entry ‘Wardrobe crisis’. The book recommended is Fabulous Nobodies by Lee Tulloch. It’s about a character called Reality Nirvana Tuttle who has a job as ‘fashion enforcement officer’ at the Less is More Club in Manhattan. It’s up to her to distinguish the nobodies from the somebodies and turn away the unfabulous.
Berthoud and Elderkin write ‘You’ll learn a lot from Reality Tuttle. Not only will she steer you through common fashion mistakes, but she’ll open your eyes to the potential for the clothes in your wardrobe to be your friends. As with friends you’ll need to choose well – and then look after them, appreciating their special qualities, and finding ways to support and encourage what they do best… With Reality as your guide you’ll never be at a loss first thing in the morning again.’
Our recommendation to anyone who has ever fallen prey to a reading slump is to invest in a copy of The Novel Cure and keep it handy, by the kettle, in the loo, pick it up instead of your phone first thing in the morning. I promise you, every time you open it you will find something to inspire you, and of course it’s great for choosing your next book club read.
For more recommendations check out any of our Bookshelf shows, in which we round up our favourite recent reads.