The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying

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* INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER *

“Stunning…heartrending…this year’s When Breath Becomes Air.” —Nora Krug, The Washington Post

“Beautiful and haunting.” —Matt McCarthy, MD, USA TODAY

“Deeply affecting…simultaneously heartbreaking and funny.” —People (Book of the Week)

“Vivid, immediate.” —Laura Collins-Hughes, The Boston Globe

Starred reviews from * Kirkus Reviews * Publishers Weekly * Library Journal *

Best Books of 2017 Selection by * The Washington Post *

Most Anticipated Summer Reading Selection by * The Washington Post * Entertainment Weekly * Glamour * The Seattle Times * Vulture * InStyle * Bookpage * Bookriot * Real Simple * The Atlanta Journal-Constitution *

The New York Times bestseller by poet Nina Riggs, mother of two young sons and the direct descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, is “a stunning…heart-rending meditation on life…It is this year’s When Breath Becomes Air” (The Washington Post).

We are breathless but we love the days. They are promises. They are the only way to walk from one night to the other.

Poet and essayist Nina Riggs was just thirty-seven years old when initially diagnosed with breast cancer—one small spot. Within a year, she received the devastating news that her cancer was terminal.

How does a dying person learn to live each day “unattached to outcome”? How does one approach the moments, big and small, with both love and honesty? How does a young mother and wife prepare her two young children and adored husband for a loss that will shape the rest of their lives? How do we want to be remembered?

Exploring motherhood, marriage, friendship, and memory, Nina asks: What makes a meaningful life when one has limited time? “Profound and poignant” (O, The Oprah Magazine), The Bright Hour is about how to make the most of all the days, even the painful ones. It’s about the way literature, especially Nina’s direct ancestor, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and her other muse, Montaigne, can be a balm and a form of prayer.

Brilliantly written and exceptionally moving, it’s a “deeply affecting memoir, a simultaneously heartbreaking and funny account of living with loss and the specter of death. As Riggs lyrically, unflinchingly details her reality, she finds beauty and truth that comfort even amid the crushing sadness” (People, Book of the Week).

Tender and heartwarming, The Bright Hour “is a gentle reminder to cherish each day” (Entertainment Weekly, Best New Books) and offers us this important perspective: “You can read a multitude books about how to die, but Riggs, a dying woman, will show you how to live” (The New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice).
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About the author

Nina Riggs received her MFA in poetry in 2004 and published a book of poems, Lucky, Lucky, in 2009. She wrote about life with metastatic breast cancer on her blog, Suspicious Country; her recent work has appeared in The Washington Post and The New York Times. She lived with her husband and sons and dogs in Greensboro, North Carolina. She is the author of The Bright Hour.

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Reviews

4.6
11 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Jun 6, 2017
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781501169366
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Medical
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Biography & Autobiography / Women
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Paul Kalanithi
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • This inspiring, exquisitely observed memoir finds hope and beauty in the face of insurmountable odds as an idealistic young neurosurgeon attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living?

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The New York Times Book Review • People • NPR • The Washington Post • Slate • Harper’s Bazaar • Esquire • Time Out New York • Publishers Weekly • BookPage

Finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction and the Books for a Better Life Award in Inspirational Memoir

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.

Praise for When Breath Becomes Air

“I guarantee that finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option. . . . Part of this book’s tremendous impact comes from the obvious fact that its author was such a brilliant polymath. And part comes from the way he conveys what happened to him—passionately working and striving, deferring gratification, waiting to live, learning to die—so well.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“An emotional investment well worth making: a moving and thoughtful memoir of family, medicine and literature. It is, despite its grim undertone, accidentally inspiring.”—The Washington Post

“Possesses the gravity and wisdom of an ancient Greek tragedy . . . [Kalanithi] delivers his chronicle in austere, beautiful prose. The book brims with insightful reflections on mortality that are especially poignant coming from a trained physician familiar with what lies ahead.”—The Boston Globe

“Devastating and spectacular . . . [Kalanithi] is so likeable, so relatable, and so humble, that you become immersed in his world and forget where it’s all heading.”—USA Today
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