Recovery Reading

One of the delights  of our wedding day — which, yes, took place at a bookstore/restaurant — was working with our wonderful photographers, Matt and Paulette, who are friends of the best man and all-around great human beings.

Around Christmas 2012, Matt was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease that led to renal failure, and so Paulette orchestrated the search to find a kidney for Matt. Amazingly, it turns out that Matt’s best friend John is a match, and the transplant happened this past week — a great success! (So very happy to write that sentence!)

Excellent people that they are, Matt and Paulette asked that anyone who felt so inclined send cards, notes, books, movies, etc. for John (c/o Paulette & Matt) during his long recovery at home, so that he feels showered with love and thanks. It’s a fabulous idea, especially since there are many, many people out there grateful for his generous act of friendship and love.

We’re two of them, of course. We don’t know John that well, but we do know that he likes to read. And having been hospital-bound myself a few times, I know just how the right book can distract you from, well, not being well. (Turns out that the stellar biography of George Washington is not as effective as Thisbe Nissen’s short stories. Thanks again, Amy!)

So what books to you send to a wonderful guy who did this incredibly generous thing but who you don’t know that well? Here’s hoping the three we sent are good choices.

photo (99)Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo. One of my all-time top-ten favorite novels, Nobody’s Fool is the engrossing and hilarious story of down-but-not-quite out Sully as he goes about his business in a tiny town in upstate New York. A few lines can’t do justice to how great this book is.



The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy. Ok, haven’t read this one, but that’s part of why we picked it. We figured John might have read The Road or No Country for Old Men, but this is one Cormac McCarthy novel that’s flown a bit under the radar. Plus, there’s nothing like McCarthy-esque violence to take one’s mind off post-op pain, right?

photo (96)The Road to Burgundy by Ray Walker.  This is a light and cheerful memoir, as noted in my review, and we figured it would be perfect pre-nap reading. A little escapism goes a long way, though we hope John won’t pack up and move to France . . .



Hope we made the right calls, and we’re wishing John a speedy recovery. If you’ve found a particular book distracting or cheering during a recovery, please share in the comments! And if you’d like to send something John’s way, let me know and I’ll message you the address.

Other ways to send books to patients: 

Donate books directly to your local hospital (call or email first)

Reach Out And Read (link to Boston Children’s Hospital program, but it’s nationwide)

Books for America 

Have another idea? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list!

19 thoughts on “Recovery Reading

  1. I was relieved to read that he is doing well and on the road to recovery! As to distracting books, I would recommend The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I hope he continues to regain his health. Thanks for sharing his story and this great idea of giving books to hospital patients.

  2. Thanks for the links! I think your choices sound pretty good. I like Cormac McCarthy, although he can be very dark. I love Richard Russo. The Road to Burgundy sounds great.

  3. 1. LOVE the place where you got married!
    2. So glad that everything worked out with the kidney donation. Hope everyone involved is happily reading and recovering.
    3. Thank you for the Russo rec. I’ve never even heard of his books and clearly they are all must reads.

  4. Have you read Bridge of Sighs by Russo? I’ve had that on my shelf for a few years, and need a nudge. He was recommended to me after someone heard how much I love Wally Lamb. You think that’s an accurate comparison?

    • I have indeed. Not my favorite of his. For you I think Empire Falls is the best bet. As for Wally Lamb, I haven’t read him since She’s Come Undone in high school, so I don’t think I’m qualified to weigh in.

  5. I am happy to hear your friend is doing well. I love that you sent him books. Mom always brought me a book when I was in the hospital with my babies. What could be better?

    Also, I love that your wedding was in a bookstore! We had our reception in a library, but it was a military library, so we couldn’t actually touch the books. It was in an old building, though, so it had a lot of character.

    Thanks for reminding me that I have yet to read anything by Russo. Now I think I will start with Nobody’s Fool (if I ever get to him at all- sigh…).

  6. Wonderful post! And I think it’s brilliant that you’re making a book delivery – so much better than the usual flowers and balloons! I have Empire Falls and look forward to reading it (and to getting his other books). Best wishes to John for a smooth recovery!

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