Have you heard of a literary doctor? Well, between the pages of a book lie wonderful cures that may or may not be known. The Novel Cure by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin (with Indrajit Hazra) uncover these literary remedies and put them in front of the reader in an easily accessible tome. Browse through the book randomly as you please or search for a specific cure, you are sure to come across books that will work on your mind, body and heart!
What kind of ailments does the book tackle? There are serious issues such as dealing with death or an emotional crisis or abandonment as well as relatively less serious issues such as feeling lazy or coping with Monday morning blues. Well, in addition to the emotional ailments there are remedies for physical ailments as well.
One of the things that I was keen to know was how the authors dealt with physical ailments. That emotional ailments can be addressed by books and the ideas they represent is something that most of us can digest. But physical ailments? This is where the authors really shine. They have books that address physical issues (baldness, loss of appetite and yes……even toothache and tonsillitis!) with a touch of humour. The books they advocate for physical ailments help the reader to look at the situation with different eyes, and herein lies the cure.
We’re NOT talking of self-help books here. True to their aim, self-help books are written with a view to help. However, The Novel Cure prescribes fiction. It suggests books from the rich literary heritage of the world. Right from good old classics to modern literature and everything in between, the authors have scoured the annals of literature for the apt prescriptions!
When did you last use a physical dictionary to look up a word? The skills are not lost yet! This handbook is organised like a dictionary. Listed in alphabetical order are an exhaustive list of ailments both emotional and physical. Right from A to Z the reader will be able to locate a cure by looking up the ailment.
The authors list the book or books for a specific ailment in the margin. In short compact descriptions they explain the theme of the book before delving into what about it will actually set you on the path to relief.
There are many cross references (as one can expect in a good dictionary) to related ailments. Look up the ailments you want or just read the manual from cover to cover if you please. There is a lot packed into this one!
The authors are bibliotherapists themselves. The recommendations hence come from a place of awareness. Since 2008 they have set up a bibliotherapy service at The School of Life in London. The cures in this book were also tested over time by clients.
The authors write in a conversational tone peppered with lots of humour. They have painstakingly screened a rich literary heritage to come up with novel suggestions that meet the mark.
The world of fiction is a wonderful place to be. It gives you a place to go even when you are weighed down by the most challenging circumstances. It provides soothing relief because fiction connects you to a larger collective consciousness. Ultimately, true healing always comes from within… and a good book never fails to light the way! Perhaps The Novel Cure will continue to remind us, that no matter what the ailment, the right book will always make a difference!
Title: The Novel Cure
Author: Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin (with Indrajit Hazra)
Publisher: LOTUS, ROLI
As children, all of us have indulged in colouring activities. Well, growing up and colouring books apparently did not go well together for many years, until recently when the market saw a surge in colouring books for adults. Suddenly a whole new world opened up. Adults found the therapeutic benefits of simple colour pencils and intricate drawings. Gods and Goddesses of India by Kanika Gupta adds to this exciting world of colouring books for adults.
Bangalore based illustrator, Kanika Gupta, has explored a very novel idea in the genre of colouring books for adults. This eye-catching therapeutic colouring book – Gods and Goddesses of India, captures the essence of deities worshipped in Hindu mythology.
Kanika Gupta’s expertise in doodling and detailing simply adds on to its beauty. Rest assured, getting your hands on this creative piece won’t just give you an insight into the oldest religion of the world, but the vibrant colours and mesmerizing patterns will help you connect with your divine self!
Detailing is my addiction! I can’t stop once I start drawing, so that’s a style that I have developed. The process was tricky, as it’s a little sensitive to go all imaginative with the Gods. I felt a little restricted at the same time. However, here there are no limitations as well. These Gods have 100 hands, 10 heads and so on, which makes drawing them a fun process! The process was first to shortlist the Gods, as there are so many and each is very interesting. I found shortlisting them the most challenging thing!
Hence, I took to a sequence, with Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. With Vishnu, I made the ‘Dashavtar’. Along with these three Gods were the corresponding Goddesses. I ended with Hanuman as he is said to be immortal, sort of depicting that creativity doesn’t die.
With a couple of references, I drew basic skeleton figures. Once stratified, the inking starts which gets tough to control. I had to tell myself stop the detailing and make it a little simpler for colouring!
I have always seen my mom write “Ram” as part of her meditation practice. This made me think: Why not do a colouring book on this theme? If you can write the Gods name, why can’t you colour his forms?
It’s nice to know a little about what you colouring!
They definitely heal a certain part in you. I run a colouring club on Sunday in a blissful park in Bangalore. people who come to colour there definately feel at ease and relaxed. You are so engrossed in making something beautiful , you are one pointed ..that is mediation
It’s sort of a compliment and a feedback- many have said the book is so pretty that we don’t feel like colouring it and spoiling it! What touched me was that an old client of mine has ordered books for her mother who is 70+ and her friends, and they have been colouring diligently with all the details!
I guess it’s the need. Anything that destresses is popular as in today’s world everyone is so stressed. A lot of people have been focusing on physical health which is good. But now, they do realize its time to give some attention to your mental health as well!
This colouring book for adults is Kanika Gupta’s second colouring book. Well, it’s never too late to experience the healing and creatively motivating effects of colouring.
Gods and Goddesses of India by Kanika Gupta
Published by Bloomsbury
But, did you know that Dr. Seuss is also known for the most inspirational quotable quotes and thoughts that one can ever get from children’s literature? Some of the Dr. Seuss books, if chosen deliberately and read mindfully can actually work as self-help books for children, building their confidence and self-esteem amongst other things.
Here are some of our picks:
Welcome to the imaginary land of Katroo, where birthday birds grow. The special birthday bird comes just to the birthday girl or boy. The concept of the birthday embraces the concept of individuality of each and every child. You are YOU…a unique YOU…is the powerful message, that every child must imbibe.
Today you are you,
That’s truer than true,
There’s nobody alive,
Who is youer than YOU!
The lesson: Celebrating individuality
Use it when: You need to remind yourself, or your child that individual differences are to be celebrated.
This book was written after Seuss’ vision began to fade and he started wearing glasses. In the quintessential Dr. Seuss way, it evokes the magic and the fun of reading.
“The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
the more places you’ll go.”
The lesson: The joys and the magic of reading, anywhere and anytime! Books can actually take you places, where you would never go had you not read them. This book emphasizes on the power of knowledge.
Use it when: You or your child need a little reminder to gently nudge you back into the world of books.
This one gets full marks on the inspiration quotient. Indeed, it is the most inspirational Dr. Seuss books, and one that adults can actually relate with quite easily, as much as children can. It has a generous dose of motivational one-liners. The theme is about how obstacles are always present, but that life is all about moving on. The book propels the reader to go ahead and accomplish all that he wants to.
“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”
“You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.”
Lesson: It instils self-confidence and self-esteem in a realistic manner and motivates one to go on.
Use it when: You are dejected and unsure about your progress, and you need that little push to go on…along with a dose of self-confidence!
If all was well with the concept of Power, the world would be a different place. Louis I – King of the Sheep, a picture book for children by renowned French illustrator Olivier Tallec, explores the fleeting and corrupting nature of power. Tallec is known to bring deep sensitivity and beauty in his works. This book is no exception.
Louis, a ‘common’ sheep grazing in the open fields gets lucky one day. The wind blows a crown on his head. Since he has the crown on his head, he declares himself king.
AND SO IT WAS ONE WINDY DAY THAT LOUIS the SHEEP THEREBY BECAME LOUIS I KING OF the SHEEP
His rise to power is due to chance. But, power transforms him. He slowly becomes a tyrant. A change occurs within him. Obviously, this is because of the power he has now. The change comes slowly but pervasively. As you turn the pages, you can observe the change that at first occurs in small doses.
BUT FIRST and FOREMOST, LOUIS I DECIDED, HE MUST BRING ORDER TO HIS KINGDOM.
SO HE COMMANDED HIS PEOPLE TO MARCH BEHIND HIM IN SHEEP STEP.
Louis gets a special place for himself so he can rest. He hunts for lions and such royal pursuits. He receives grand artists at his place. He basically indulges in activities that kings do. But, by now, Louis I is completely drunk on power and matters turn sinister.
NEXT, LOUIS I DECIDED THAT ONLY the SHEEP WHO RESEMBLED HIM COULD LIVE AT HIS SIDE.
The OTHERS MUST BE DRIVEN OUT.
However, if power can come, so can it go. Another day, it takes but a bit of gusty wind to blow the crown away.
LOUIS I, KING OF the SHEEP BECAME LOUIS the SHEEP ONCE AGAIN.
By using the example of a humble sheep, Tallec shows that no one, not even the simplest and most innocent amongst us, is immune to the corrupting influence of power. The gentle pace of the story and a very positive end makes it a pleasant read.
Tallec’s design background ensures that the illustrations are breathtakingly beautiful, to say the least. Highly detailed and spread generously over the pages, the powerful pictures take the story forward. Each page has a maximum of just two lines of text, if at all. Yet, it is the impact of the powerful lines and the wonderful illustrations make the story what it is.
The notion of power dynamics hits us right from childhood when we face power relationships with parents and significant others. The book explains simple truths about power that both children and adults will be able to relate with. It illustrates how power depends on chance, how power corrupts and the fact that it is transitory.