• Get help from bibliotherapy

    by Vatsala Chhibber

    When heartache survives angry cries, silent meditation and Adele, you might want to turn to fiction. Bibliotherapy – prescribed reading to cure emotional, psychological and sometimes even physical ailments – promises science-backed nourishment for the soul. Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin, bibliotherapists and authors of The Novel Cure: An A-Z Of Literary Remedies have created a comprehensive list of troubles and cures, covering everything from procrastination (The Remains Of the Day should set you right) to infidelity (Patience, by John Coates). We round up five ails to get you started:  

    If you need to find purpose
    Read: The Hundred Year Old Man Who Jumped Out Of The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
    On his 100th birthday, Allan Karlsson decides he’s not in the mood for the big celebration that awaits him. So he climbs out the window of his nursing home and heads towards the unknown – which essentially involves elephants, murders and a suitcase filled with cash. The only thing more dramatic than Karlsson’s new adventure is his backstory. You might find yourself on a flight to Iceland soon after.  

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  • If you need to fight heartache
    Read: Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi

    The Rushdie-approved author's tender tale of love and loss is free of the usual clichés of heartbreak. After the death of Kweku Sai, a Ghanaian immigrant in America, grief takes its course, heading straight for his wife, ex-wife and children. Unresolved feelings of abandonment and estrangement come to the fore, but rest assured it'll lead you to closure. 

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  • If you're struggling with low self-esteem
    Read: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier  

    Find a friend (and reassurance) in Du Maurier’s awkward, nameless heroine who becomes the lady-in-charge of a sprawling estate after a hasty marriage. She’s constantly facing unflattering comparisons to her husband’s beautiful, well-loved ex-wife Rebecca – especially from her devoted housekeeper. 

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  • If your vanity is getting out of control 
    Read: The Picture Of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde

    Ridiculously good-looking Dorian Grey becomes the subject of a young artist’s portrait, and develops an obsession with beauty. He pledges his soul for eternal youth, and under the influence of his friend Lord Henry, submits to a life of hedonism. The painting, though, ages grotesquely with every sin.    

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  • If you're frightened by death
    Read: White Noise by Don DeLillo

    Jack Gladney, his fourth wife Babette and their four children make a not-too-complicated family in a petite American town. But when Jack is exposed to a toxic chemical from an industrial accident, he's plagued by the looming threat of death. Plus, living with a partner dependent on a psychopharmaceutical drug to cope with her own fear of death only adds to the neurosis. You can't possibly be doing worse than these two.