Recovery: The Lost Art of Convalescence - Dr Gavin Francis

I've not put up any book reviews for ages, but I've still been reading. Unfortunately, I've been in a bit of a shoddy state and not really feeling up to reviews. In fact, I've been in hospital for nearly 7 weeks now as recovery from a major operation has turned out to be a lot longer than expected.

As such, this book seems particularly appropriate. I ended up with it after my wife "saw this and thought of you". It also feels like a good follow-up to "The Art of Rest", and indeed covers some of the same themes, such as how people find it hard to let themselves do nothing.

In other ways, it's an utterly different book. TAoR is a science writers's paint-by-numbers, a selection of essays based on a survey result, each of which is well-researched but largely impersonal, until the required page count is hit. In contrast, this short book is crafted around the personal experiences of a doctor who has ranged the gamut from surgeon to GP, across 4 continents. It's a book from the Wellcome Collection, whom I've always found a little eccentric.

The book largely discusses concalescense in a historical context, perhaps because recovery was better in a period when people really would spent the time to recover properly, but also when people had no choice, since there were no medical shortcuts available. It's a very "light, air and green space" approach to getting better, something that as a person having an extended stay in a hospital, I rather appreciate. There's a lot in here, and I won't do it the disservice of trying to summarise all it covers.

Indeed, the chapters of the book don't feel to me like they tesselate neatly, instead being a collection of topics that together encompass Francis's holistic approach to recovery. Despite this, I still found the book most enjoyable and rewarding. Just the style of the text is calming; reading the book and absorbing his mindset has been in itself an aid to recovery for me.

It's a funny little book, but somehow far more honest than The Art of Rest. Highly recommended.

Posted 2022-03-01.