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Ralph’s Reads: Books for the Age of Social Distancing — Part 1

Ralph Stayer recommends three books to spread hope, joy in uncertain times

BY March 19, 2020
Photo By Brian Tietz

During these weeks of social distancing when we’re being asked to stay home and away from other people, we can’t think of a better way to pass the time than with a good book.

For the past few months, seasonal Naples resident and former CEO of Johnsonville Sausage Ralph Stayer has been recommending books in our magazine as part of his column, “Ralph’s Reads.” Ralph, an avid reader, knows a thing or two about great books. As the founder of a Naples book club attended by about a dozen high-power friends, his bookshelves are stocked.

With that in mind, we asked Ralph to share some titles from his ever-expanding collection. The only parameter we gave him was to select uplifting titles—stories that could provide a little escapism and comfort during these uncertain times. Within less than 24 hours, Ralph emailed back with a solid list to beat the pandemic blues.

As he points out, “Social distancing requires effort.  Anti-social distancing requires no effort at all.” So, put in the effort, hunker down at home and curl up with these uplifting books recommended by Ralph. 



Courtesy of publisher

“A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles: “This book is so well written that you will want to slow walk it. Take your time and enjoy it, because it will be finished all too soon. This is some of the best fiction writing you will ever be privileged to read.”





Courtesy of publisher

“Love Your Enemies” by Arthur C. Brooks: “Love your enemies provides a great prescription for building unity in our country, our families and our marriages. I recently officiated at my daughter’s wedding ceremony and much of my sermon was based on the contents of this book. Love is a verb, not a noun.”





Courtesy of publisher

“Proof of Heaven” by Eben Alexander, M.D.: This is the story of an atheist M.D. who never believed in life after death until he had an NDE (Near Death Experience). His brain was attacked by a rare disease and he spent seven days in a deep coma. Read his account of those seven days, and learn why he is now a believer.






Ralph will be back next week with another batch of book suggestions to get you through the pandemic. Have comments on these titles or ideas for anything else he should read? Email Ralph at

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