Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin describe A-Z as a “medical handbook with a difference”.
Instead of a prescribed tonic or drug, the “bibliotherapists” argue, dip in some of the world’s greatest literature (ancient, classic and modern) and experience the novel as salve.
Starting with A for abandonment (suggested text: Plainsong by Kent Haruf) and ending with Z for zestlessness (suggested text: Ragtime by El Doctorow), this beautifully bound compendium lists a bewildering array of classic and modern ailments (addiction to the internet? Look up Wolf Solent by John Cowper Powys. Madness? The Comforters by Muriel Spark) interspersed with some whimsical Top 10s with which to wile away minutes or hours.
Each entry contains a reason for the author/title’s selection and a plot precis as well as observations on literature and life; enjoyment comes more from the variety of chosen texts than the writers’ thoughts.