Although the holiday season looks a little different this year, likely two things are still true; you have more down time for yourself, and more small gatherings on the calendar.
Whether it’s the former or the later, or a combination of both—CWA Founding Partner Darrell Cain has leveraged social distancing as an opportunity to spend time with two of his passions, good books and delicious wine. If you are looking for a compelling book to read on your time off, or the perfect wine to serve at dinner, Darrell has suggestions to share.
*The following blog was originally published in Dec. 2018. Darrell Cain’s reading list and favorite wines have been updated for 2020.
Darrell’s passion for reading started in an unconventional way—through his struggle to overcome dyslexia. In the 1950s, educators were not as familiar with dyslexia, so like many other children who struggled during that time with illiteracy, he was told he had a low IQ and was unlikely to surmount to anything noteworthy. His mother refused to let him fall through the cracks, and with appropriate remediation and phonics, coached him until he was finally able to read in third grade.
“The act of me not being able to read led me to be very passionate about reading,” Darrell said.
From there it was all he wanted to do. In grade school Darrell would skip recess to stay in the library to read. By middle school he was a library assistant which allowed him to select and order the books for the library.
Fast-forward 40 years and Darrell still escapes to the library, this time in the 3,000 book collection in his home. In fact, his love of reading is one of the most important gifts he has shared with his eight children.
His favorite genre both then and today? Science fiction. In adolescence it helped him expand his mind to new and creative ideas and today it allows him to unwind and escape from the pressures of the world.
The books influential to him are Isaac Asimov’s 1950s series the Foundation Trilogy. First read when he was 12, and then again many times after, this book was inspired by the rise and fall of the Roman Empire and raises profound questions on if one can change society and history whilst living it. Other genres he gravitates to are autobiographies, American history, world history, military, American and English literature.
Darrell reads daily, especially in the evening. He’s currently reading selections from wartime history to science fiction and suspense thrillers, and will typically read five books at one time.
- “The Evening and the Morning,” by Ken Follett. A historical prequel that will end where The Pillars of the Earth begins. This book takes readers on an epic journey into the end of the Dark Ages where England faces attacks from the Welsh in the west and the Vikings in the east.
- “Shadow of the Dragon,” by Mark Cameron writing as Tom Clancy. A missing Chinese scientist, unexplained noises emanating from under the Arctic ice, and a possible mole in American intelligence are just some of the problems that plague President Jack Ryan in the latest entry in Tom Clancy’s #1 New York Times bestselling series.
- “The Splendid and the Vile,” by Erik Larson. In an intimate chronicle of Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz—this offers an inspiring portrait of courage and leadership in a time of unprecedented crisis.
- “Magic Lessons,” by Alice Hoffman. Tracing a centuries-old curse to its source, Hoffman unveils the story of Maria Owens, accused of witchcraft in Salem, and matriarch of a line of the amazing Owens women and men featured in Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic.
Wine for the social side
Darrell’s book collection is personal, but his wine and scotch whisky selections are gifts he loves to share. Although he is not a big drinker, Darrell says his robust collection of whiskey and wine stems from his love of entertaining.
Whether entertaining family or friends in your home, or bringing a gift as a guest, he loves gifting the perfect wine to others.
Here are some of his top choices to keep you in good spirits this season:
- Cakebread Cellars Sauvignon Blanc
- Domaine Jean-Marc Morey, Chassagne Montrachet La Bergerie
- Panzanello Chiate Classico, Tuscany, Italy, (picked up at Costo for under $20)
- Brunello di Montalcino, Italy
- Karl Lawrence Cellars (St. Helena or Napa)
Be it stories or spirits, whatever your preference, CWA would like to wish you a holiday season filled with good books, great tastes and close friends. Happy Holidays.