cover image \tHow to Be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick

\tHow to Be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick

Letty Cottin Pogrebin. PublicAffairs, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-61039-283-9

Pogrebin, a veteran feminist, author, and cofounder (with Gloria Steinem) of Ms. magazine, uses her experience with breast cancer—she was diagnosed in September 2009 at age 70—and nearly 80 interviews with friends and patients to craft this bluntly practical and gently humorous guide to the dos and don’ts of caring for the ill. The list of tips is formidably long, and includes plenty of helpful advice: Don’t ask “how” someone is feeling, ask “what” they’re feeling; never start a sentence with “Oh my God!”; and be sure to say things like, “Tell me how I can help,” and “I’m bringing dinner”—or ice cream, laughter, or pot (to which she gives “the grand prize for Most Restorative Gift”). There are also accounts of patients themselves, like writer Nora Ephron, who surprisingly chose to keep her fatal illness a secret from friends. But it’s the bravery and wisdom Pogrebin (Three Daughters) brought to her own battle that lifts this guide from a mere list of sickroom rules to invaluable lessons for sickness and health. Her cancer, she writes, “taught me the blessings of silence” and that there are times “when the kindest thing you can do” for the ill “is to confer upon them the honor of the ordinary.” Agent: David Kuhn, Kuhn Projects. (Apr. 9)