Books To Cure What Ails You: A Guide For The Neurotic Nerd


Emma Thompson says she fought post-Branagh depression with a dose of…Sense and Sensibility. This inspired us to bring you a few other classic literary prescriptions for life’s ailments. [Insert your own 4-hour erection joke here.]

I’m not really a psychiatrist. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to prescribe things irresponsibly! And so, without further ado, literary fixes to some of the many problems that plague modern life. Not all are doctor-approved; there are off-label prescriptions. And these should not be considered an alternative to anything that’s actually medically sound.

Fighting With Siblings: Take two chapters Flowers in the Attic — preferably chapters 5-7. And remember: sometimes conflict is healthy. (Yes, VC Andrews counts as a classic!)

Heartbreak: Some would recommend Austen or P.G. Wodehouse or another feel-good comfort-read. We propose a radical new therapy: Beowulf. It’ll get you right to the anger stage! A controversial shortcut!

Hopeless Crush: The scrip here varies. In some cases, Madame Bovary is the best fix. In severe cases, however, Jane Eyre may be needed. Best-case scenario: he has a secret wife and you’ll live in a charred ruin. Worst-case scenario: total disgrace and utter tragedy.

Daddy Issues: Read Lolita once every five years. It could always be worse. Much worse.

Feeling Blue: We generally recommend starting out with a heavy dose of Aeschylus. If this doesn’t perk you up, it’s time for the big guns: the Russians. Either War and Peace or the Brothers Karamazov is sufficiently long and complex and requires enough referencing of the index to keep your mind occupied. This is a highly experimental method, but when it’s worked, the results have been dramatic.

Work Problems: Take 2 pages of The Fountainhead before bed every night. Whether you’re compelled to rage at the laughable mediocrity of the system, blow off your job to preserve your integrity, or merely guffaw at the abysmal writing, Ayn Rand has something for every malcontent.

Kids Stressing You Out: One chapter of Lord of the Flies will remind you that it’s not your fault. In extreme cases, add one full reading of A Turn of the Screw. Sucks to your auntie.

And yes, may be habit-forming. (Sorry, I had to.)

The Healing Power Of Jane Austen [Telegraph]

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