The 3-1 loss to Udinese was Bologna's first defeat of 2012 but they got back on track thanks to Robert Acquafresca's late winner.
Acquafresca netted in the 82nd minute to help save the blushes of team-mate Marco Di Vaio, who saw his early penalty saved by visiting goalkeeper Samir Ujkani.
The victory lifts Bologna six points above the relegation zone but leaves Novara deep in trouble in 19th spot, a massive 12 points adrift of safety.
Bologna would have been desperate for a positive result following their loss to Udinese and they dominated for large parts of today's game, but without being able to turn that into goals.
Diego Perez and Matteo Rubin had both tried their luck for the hosts before Bologna were awarded a spot-kick in the 18th minute following a foul by Santiago Garcia on Alessandro Diamanti inside the area.
However, veteran striker Di Vaio could not make the chance count as his effort was kept out by Ujkani.
Despite that setback, Bologna continued to boss the match and Gaston Ramirez fired an effort just wide before Di Vaio was again denied by Ujkani as they sought a half-time advantage.
It was an almost identical story in the second half with Bologna pushing hard for the opener while Novara failed to seriously test home keeper Jean Francois Gillet.
Di Vaio saw two headers narrowly clear the crossbar before Gaby Mudingayi's 65th-minute effort was well saved by Ujkani, who also denied Diamanti in the 77th minute following a long-range shot.
Soon after that incident Novara striker Andrea Caracciolo, having been replaced only five minutes earlier, was shown a red card on the bench following a fight with Bologna defender Daniele Portanova.
With Raggi, Rubin and Perez failing to hit the target with further openings for Bologna it was beginning to look as though the hosts would drop two valuable points. But, with eight minutes remaining, substitute Acquafresca succeeded where his team-mates had failed as he tucked home the winning goal from point-blank range.