But there are breaks in the conference and there is this little restaurant called Cristina's. Every waking moment that I'm not at the conference, I'm at this restaurant. She's this wonderful woman, probably in her 50s. She's from Italy with a romantic tale of meeting a backpacker from Idaho in Italy. She moved to Sun Valley with him and opened this charming little restaurant. When we first started going out there, they only served breakfast and lunch. The conference starts on a Friday and ends on a Monday. I think that first year I ate at Cristina's maybe 10 times.
Are you serious?
Yes. It would get to the point where my wife would look around for where I was during a breakout session or recess, and I would be sneaking over there.
What is it that gets you to go there so much?
The food is amazing, and I bought her cookbooks. I'm working my way through her cookbooks to make all the recipes. It's Italian-themed, but they have great breakfast, great lunches, pizzas and sandwiches. Great everything and, for whatever reason, it's the same service staff that's there year-in and year-out. Miraculously, they remember people's names. There's one server there, Juan Carlos Flores, or John Charlie Flowers as he likes to say, and every year I go he's there -- smiling, welcoming. We have our table by the fireplace. I know that they treat everyone like that, but you really feel like you're a regular. I go native when I'm out there. I love Idaho, and it's just a wonderful place.
It sounds like it's the whole experience, not just the conference.
Yes, everyone is there for the same reason. All because you love reading and you love writing. I was the type of kid growing up that when I got my summer reading list I was excited. I'd tear through the books. You get the list in advance of the conference, and you know who all of the authors are. You can read their books and it's so much fun to unplug from what I do here and fully immerse myself in this creative environment.
If you had to pick one highlight from your attendance at these conferences, what would it be?
There are so many. I met Supreme Court Justice (Stephen) Breyer.
Also, talking to Isabel Wilkerson. Two or three years ago, my wife and I ran into her in the hotel lobby. She stopped and talked to us for 20 minutes about the book.
Can you name a favorite book?
The Warmth of Other Suns was fantastic. I don't know. It's sometimes situational. For example, last year Siddhartha Mukherjee was out there, and he's the one who wrote The Emperor of All Maladies. For me, last year was a very difficult year. My father passed away from pancreatic cancer. So to be with this author who wrote about the history of cancer and get a perspective on cancer that was so far beyond the experience I had at hospitals and dealing with oncologists, to really learn about cancer and the history, and through someone that was very passionate was amazing.
Is there a particular genre that you favor?
I love everything. I know that may sound hokey, but not one in particular.
You said you'd love to write a book one day -- fiction or nonfiction. Have you started writing it?
I haven't. When I read something, I think, "I want to write something like this." I change gears and read something else. I know that I love writing. I pore over my briefs. One of the things I love about my job is I practice criminal law and so we write a lot of briefs. ... I feel like I'm lucky in that I get to write and enjoy what I write on a day-to-day basis.
In your house, do you have a library or a large wall with books?
We do. We have a study, and it is floor to ceiling with books. Anywhere you go in our house you will find books. Not that we're hoarders or there's clutter, but they're there. They are at our bedside table, they are on the coffee table, and they are in the TV room.