cover image Recovery: The Lost Art of Convalescence

Recovery: The Lost Art of Convalescence

Gavin Francis. Penguin Life, $22 (144p) ISBN 978-0-14313-791-7

In this succinct and perceptive outing, Francis (Intensive Care) shares insights into the healing process gleaned over his 30-plus years as a general practitioner. While its “rhythms and... tempo are often slow and gentle,” convalescence is “anything but a passive process,” Francis writes. Recovery involves psychological, social, and biological shifts, and patients should devote “adequate time, energy, and respect” to healing. Francis explores a different facet of convalescence in each chapter, including nature as a curative force, the role of caretakers, how social inequalities shape who gets “permission to recover,” and even the occasional, fragile gifts of illness, such as the discovery of an unknown inner strength or a new appreciation for one’s normally taken-for-granted good health. Chapters end with snippets of takeaway advice; for instance, Francis recommends that those in recovery “reprioritize your work-life balance however you can” and “build into every day some way to appreciate nature.” Taking stock of the healing process from the perspectives of patient, doctor, and caretaker, Francis sheds nuanced light on an often fraught and private experience, and encourages readers to reimagine illnesses as “stories of the mind and body” because “within limits, stories can be rewritten.” Those on the mend may gain the most, but readers of all stripes will find wisdom here. (Sept.)