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The Insomniac Reader

Books and snarky commentary inspired by insomnia induced reading marathons.



The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You - Susan Elderkin, Ella Berthoud *I received this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

The Novel Cure is basically a list of book recommendations. It's generally not something I go for. Book recommendations are pretty much everywhere. Amazon, book store staff, us goodreader folk, your bff, the crazy old guy suffering a bad case of flatulence at Strand (I have not forgotten you, you lovable, gassy old coot, and I promise to read Joan Didion as soon as possible), your Aunt Josie's pet parakeet. Everyone's got a book or fifty that you MUST read for one reason or another.


Let's just say reading a book about books I need to be reading just isn't necessary in my life.

But this book has a fun concept. The idea behind it is called bibliotherapy, the prescribing of fiction for life's ailments. The ailments are all listed in alphabetical order, and along with it is a list of books to read that have to do with the problem and usually a description for why this book is relevant to your problems. From the sound of broken china to burning dinner. From suffering the pains of a broken heart to caring for someone who has cancer to depression. From claustrophobia to xenophobia, there's a list of books out there for you to help you through the situation.

Obviously, this should not be taken as serious medical advice. It's the equivalent of the mood ring for books. Or reading books according to your Zodiac sign. Well, maybe one step above that. Books can and have had a certain healing quality. The escapism is therapeutic. And there's something relieving about finding a character who knows what you've been through. But it's not a legitimate prescription from a doctor. And it's not going to replace a psychologist's advice when suffering from mental illness. And books can't replace support from real people. Unless those real people suck. But why are they in your life anyway if they suck?

While there are some passages encouraging violence against books that made me wish this book had a cure for this sensation:


I had fun going through the lists and seeing what books they liked for what situation. Which is what this book was meant to be. Unless the writers actually are serious. If that's the case there are far worse quacks out there who we let write things for health.