Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss, by Rajeev Balasubramanyam
I saw this reviewed fairly recently as an uplifting kind of a book that makes the reader happy, so I thought I'd give it a try.
Professor Chandra is the world's foremost economist, and yet here he is, not winning the Nobel Prize. Again. Also, his wife left him years ago, only one of his three mostly-grown children want to talk with him at all, and he just got run over by a bicycle. Forced into a leave of absence from Cambridge, Professor Chandra has to find something to do with himself.
He starts with a four-day retreat in California, and then spends some time as a 'visiting scholar' in San Diego, learning how to do something besides work himself to death. He gradually starts to try to mend fences with his children (letting them make their own choices is a help) and even his ex-wife, and finally starts to figure out that maybe work isn't the only thing out there. He has always loved his family deeply, but almost the only way he knew of to show it was to work all the time and try to make his kids get into Ivy League colleges. Maybe they could just...enjoy being together?
This was not as light or fun as I thought it would be! It was all pretty depressing at first and I wondered how this could be a very uplifting, feel-good kind of novel. But I did get drawn in to his worries and travails, trying to figure out what life is about and how to be...this thing people call happy. And it is funny. So while I didn't find it to be this wonderful, life-affirming story, I did enjoy it.