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Tales from the Bed

Tales from the Bed

A Memoir

Foreword by: Katie Couric / With: Valerie Estess
  • reading group guide
Jenifer Estess is a beautiful, successful, thirtysomething New Yorker with dreams of starting her own family when she is diagnosed with ALS, a fatal disease. Doctors tell her to max out her credit cards and prepare to die. That is precisely when Jenifer starts to live -- dreaming deeper, working harder, and loving endlessly. A girlhood pact with her sisters Valerie and Meredith -- nothing will ever break us apart -- inspires Jenifer as she faces down her most vicious enemy.
Beautifully written and wholly inspiring, Jenifer's memoir forces us to reconsider society's notion of "having it all," and illustrates, more than anything, the power of memory, work, and, most of all, love.
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  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743476836 | 
  • November 2005
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

March 17, 1997, was a very windy day in New York City. Walking up Amsterdam Avenue to the gym that morning, I wanted to turn around and go home. The old me would have. My apartment was dark and inviting, my bed was warm, and the gym would be there tomorrow. But then I thought of the Muffin Shop, which was opening in an hour. If I worked out for an hour, I could stop by on the way home for a muffin and coffee to go. One of the great pleasures for me was sitting at my new kitchen table with my muffin and coffee, planning the day. I had a big day ahead of me, so I kept going.

I'd been listening to Annie Lennox a lot on my... see more

Reading Group Guide

The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for discussion of Tales from the Bed. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Many fine books from Washington Square Press feature Readers Club Guides. For a complete listing, or to read the Guides online, visit
Questions and Topics for Discussion
1) Tales from the Bed allows the reader to get to know Jenifer Estess and follow her throughout the various emotions she experiences before and after being diagnosed with ALS. Do you identify with Jenifer? What are the aspects of her personality that you relate to and why?
2) Jenifer recounts her various experiences with doctors and medical professionals after being initially diagnosed. Do you think her experiences are unique? Discuss the role of the physician and other medical professionals in cases involving life-debilitating or terminal illness, such as ALS. What should be expected from health professionals on both a personal and professional level?
3) Do you think running Project A.L.S. had an impact on Jenifer's health? Discuss the role of work in maintaining a sense of well-being.
4) Discuss how Jenifer relates her childhood experiences with her experiences after being diagnosed with ALS. What are some of the lesson see more

About the Author

Jenifer Estess
Photo Credit:

Jenifer Estess

Jenifer Estess was the CEO and founder of Project A.L.S. She lived in New York City, where she spent her best times with Jake, Willis, Jane, James, Kate, and the rest of her family.




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