The Perfect Book for Every Bad Mood and Upsetting Dilemma

We all have our trying times (or years). Here’s the cure for what ails you. Read—and be restored.

For when you are insecure because you think your best friend is better than you

The competitive dynamic between two friends in Naples runs like a lit fuse through Elena Ferrante’s four Neapolitan novels. When Elena Greco (called Lenu) and Raffaella Cerullo (called Lila) meet as girls, in My Brilliant Friend, Lenu is awed by her friend’s intelligence, charisma and originality. Yet it is Lenu, not Lila, who will become a famous writer: Lila’s precocious gifts inspired Lenu; but it was Lenu, not Lila, who had the tenacity to use her own gifts. Ferrante’s novel shows that it is the friends we love—and yes, envy—who possess the transformative power of making us grow.