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4.5 out of 5 stars34
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on 20 September 2013
Every avid reader should buy this book, and so should non-readers to learn what they're missing.

The idea is to suggest novels to read that might act as a "cure" for an amazingly comprehensive list of emotional, psychological, serious and trivial problems, or, at least take one's mind off them. According to Wikipedia, "bibliotherapy" is a technique known even to the ancient Greeks, and was much used after World War 2 in the treatment of soldiers.
I think it was Frank Muir who said he read a medical dictionary, and found he had every disease "except frontispiece and xenophobia". Well this book lists everything from abandonment to zestlessness - including xenophobia, and recommends a novel remedy for every one! It is written in the most delightful light-hearted and witty style and the way in which each "problem" is defined and analysed by the authors, even before the "cure" is suggested betrays a remarkable understanding and experience of human life.
I haven't read a novel for years, but will definitely begin again as soon as I can get a copy of Caribou Island, £6.47 from Amazon, the cure for DIY, an affliction of mine, for which the entry reads:

"If you are feeling an irresistible urge to build that lean-to, customise your IKEA unit, or sandblast your patio, make sure a copy of Caribou Island is sitting just inside your toolkit, ideally between you and the drill. After you read this, the absolute folly of attempting DIY will become indisputable."

But apart from this, there are, in effect excellent reviews of at least 300 novels, and so even those believing they have no worries at all can use this as an excellent compendium of ideas for reading.
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on 9 September 2013
As a GP who likes to think, and prescribe, out of the box, this is a perfect reference book. I have already bought it several times as I keep giving it away to GP colleagues and other friends. They too are enjoying the comfort of knowing that whatever dilemma you face in life, it has been faced before by many others, and luckily by some people who can write about it more eloquently than you can. Marvellous!
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on 14 July 2015
I probably shouldn’t do it at my age, but I do love music festivals. Sure, my interest in sex, drugs and rock & roll has been whittled down to two but the eclectic mix of music, poetry, comedy, dance and the outright zany always hits the spot. This year as I strolled around the fields of Latitude in my festival attire and spray on monkey tattoo, I stumbled on an old ambulance, a relic from the 1960’s. At first glance it looked like a scene from one of the medics’ reviews that I remember so well, I fully expected a medical student to explode from the back of the vehicle armed only with speculum and excessive profanity. But no, this is the bibliotherapy clinic - serious business. I booked an appointment and arrived at the allotted time, but like any proper doctors’ surgery they were running 20 minutes late - I understood. Eventually I was ushered into the back of the ambulance by the nurse-receptionist and was greeted by the ‘doctor’ poised like a latter day fortune teller.

The therapist in the white coat (hasn’t she heard?) was Ella Berthoud from The School of Life and co-author of ‘The novel cure’¹, an alphabetical list of ailments with their literary remedies. After a potted life history and résumé of my current ailments, Ella gave me a prescription of reading material. No, not an unreadable stack of information leaflets, but 5 novels.

I have dabbled in bibliotherapy myself. I once suggested to a patient intent on homeopathic treatment for her heart disease that she read ‘Bad science’ by Ben Goldacre. She retaliated with ‘Bad Pharma’ by the same author. Touché!

To help me deal with my melancholia, Ella suggested I read Mikhail Bulgakov’s ‘A Country Doctor’s Notebook’. Perhaps learning about his life as a doctor in early 20th century Russia might make me grumble less about mine in the 21st century NHS. As a balm for my spiritual uncertainties; a dose of ‘Quarantine’ by Jim Crace. And the antidote for middle aged medical blues; some scalpel sharp Finnish wit from the pen of Arto Paasilinna in ‘The Year of the Hare’. All of these treatments can be bought over the counter and most are available in tablet form.

This is good medicine; there are no unwanted side effects to worry about and it seems unlikely any harm will accrue from exceeding the prescribed dose. But, as always, you should not take someone elses medicine for your own self diagnosed maladies. I was warned that “...when read at the right moment in your life, a novel can - quite literally - change it”. So don’t read my books, that’s my prescription. Get your own.
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on 6 September 2013
This is a great gift for people who love to read. A fun new way to think about reading too - have been enjoying dipping into it and am getting excited about reading again.
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on 19 September 2013
This is a really original book which 'prescribes' novels for various ailments, some serious, some trivial. The recommendations are written in a witty and insightful way.

It is perfect for someone like me who loves reading but finds choosing the right book a challenge. Enjoyable for a quick browse and as an ongoing reference.
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on 1 January 2014
Fabulous....picked this up after a talk by the authors at the School of Life (London), which also offers personalised 'bibliotherapy' consultations to marry your reading preferences and current life experiences to a customised proposed reading list, and have since bought more copies to give as gifts! A wonderful book. Now all I need to do is set about reading some of the proposals (and saving up for a bibliotherapy session of my own!). Definite winner.
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on 1 October 2013
This is the ultimate Christmas list book, curl up in a corner with it.... do you have a headache, cold, fever...this book gives you the perfect read for every ailment.

Find old friends and make some new ones inside the covers of this wonderful book.

I think I need a Bibliotherapist in my life :-)
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on 13 August 2014
I am in love with this book, and its concept. I firstly bought this for myself as a book lover, but then went on to buy it for my English Literature teacher. We both find this book both ridiculous and fabulous. This is one of those books that I will keep on my desk for years to come. It is definitely worth investing, especially if you fancy a little giggle at some of the ridiculous ailments included.
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on 16 December 2013
I bought this book for someone who loves reading, so it is perfect. Product arrived in great condition and was lovely and clean. thankyou!
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I've been dipping into this interesting book for several months now and have found it a truly fascinating experience. There really is a reading cure for all ills within its pages. Whether you are bored, suffering from unrequited love or feel you have too much to do. Whether you've been made redundant, had an argument, aren't getting enough sex - or even too much. Whether you are an optimist or a pessimist there is a suitable novel for you to read in the circumstances.

Anyone who loves books will enjoy this book and will pick up lots of interesting suggestions for new books to read. You may not agree with all the authors' choices but you can always shuffle them around and read them in different circumstances. I liked the humour and the authors' love of reading which really shines through in their descriptions of the books they list.

There are many lists of books on a theme interspersed between the main entries - which are alphabetical and there are suggested cures for not reading enough or for reading too much (Can one ever read too much?) Armed with this book you can face all the ills to which you might be subject during your life.

Having read my way through many a crisis I can whole-heartedly recommend bibliotherapy as a cure for almost anything.
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