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!

Beach Reading: The Road to Burgundy, by Ray Walker

What’s your dream job?

You know, the one you think you’d love to try given time, and money, and the right location, and all those pesky considerations that responsible adults take into account when making decisions? If you could live anywhere in the world, with a respectable salary (enough to live comfortably but not ostentatiously), but you had to work, what would that job be?

Maybe you have two dream jobs. Or the job you have would be your dream job if there were just a couple of alterations (hi, teachers out there!). Maybe you find it hard to pin down because you think that new-car smell would fade pretty darn fast for any kind of job.

photo (96)Ray Walker is the guy who figured out what his dream job was and turned it into his day job — with a supportive family, an unbeatable work ethic, and an insane amount of luck.

The Road to Burgundy* is Mr. Walker’s memoir, a light, fast, straightforward read that chronicles his often-bumpy transition from finance work in San Francisco to making wine in Burgundy with grapes from some of the most storied vines in the world.

It’s the perfect beach read — engaging, but not stress-inducing — especially for anyone who likes reading about France (the food!) or wine. Mr. Walker’s emphasis on terroir — the place-character of a wine, if you will, is quite interesting. I do wish the memoir had gone into more detail about the old-fashioned winemaking techniques that he champions and that, apparently, have resulted in excellent wines, but ultimately, the book achieves its purpose, which is to show that once in a while that dream job is within reach.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.