May saw us at Sally's parents' house in France for our 'reading retreat', the aim of which was to sit around doing very little other than reading and discussing what we read. In practice there was a lot of driving about doing things like supermarket shops and picking latecomers up from the airport but we did have one completely blissful day in the sun where we were able to do exactly as we'd hoped.
So as not to waste a rare weekend away with unworthy books I enlisted the help of School of Life Bibliotherapst Susan Elderkin, who accepted the challenge of prescribing books not to an individual but to the group as a whole. She gave us four considered options to choose from: two longer books to be read in advance (Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff and The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard), and two novellas to read while we were away (The Wedding by John Berger and I Was Amelia Earhart by Jane Mendelsohn). As we liked the idea of discovering a writer so many rate so highly we picked the Hazzard and our reviews and scores are over on the main site. If you can't bear to leave I can tell you it scored 68. I think it would be fair to say we admired her writing but found the novel to be flawed both in terms of plot and character.
If you've never heard of Bibliotherapy ("Life's too short for bad books") I can't recommend it highly enough. For the price of a festival ticket or – in my case, say – half a haircut, you get a personal conversation that will be one of the most enjoyable chats about books you've ever had with anyone and then a detailed prescription with ten titles carefully chosen to address whatever reading ailment / complaint / condition you might feel you have. It's basically a kind of bookshelf MOT and the books you discover may well be life-changing. Plus it's a lot of fun. If Bibliotherapy is not for you then you could simply acquire copy of The Novel Cure by Susan Elderkin and Ella Berthoud, a fantastically thoughtful and generous book that will offer you suggestions for every possible moment you might find yourself in need of something to read. A gem.