The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying

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“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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Additional Information

Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Jun 6, 2017
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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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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, 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?

The New York Times Book Review • People • NPR • The Washington Post • Slate • Harper’s Bazaar • 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.

A Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

“Beautifully written and incredibly funny, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is about the importance of friendship and human connection. I fell in love with Eleanor, an eccentric and regimented loner whose life beautifully unfolds after a chance encounter with a stranger; I think you will fall in love, too!” —Reese Witherspoon

No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine. 

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. 

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .
The only way to survive is to open your heart. 
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University

Book Club Pick for Now Read This, from PBS NewsHour and The New York Times

“A coming-of-age memoir reminiscent of The Glass Castle.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“Tara Westover is living proof that some people are flat-out, boots-always-laced-up indomitable.”—USA Today

“The extremity of Westover’s upbringing emerges gradually through her telling, which only makes the telling more alluring and harrowing.”—The New York Times Book Review

Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills” bag. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged metal in her father’s junkyard.

Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent.

When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and history, learning for the first time about pivotal world events like the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing one’s closest ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.
★OPRAH.COM  傳記類選書










林葳媫 中華民國乳癌病友協會秘書長
夏嘉璐 主播、主持人
陳月卿 癌症關懷基金會董事長
陳啟明 和信治癌中心醫院副院長
陳鴻彬 諮商心理師/資深輔導教師
彭菊仙 親子作家
番紅花 作家
蔡康永 主持人、作家







‧一開始讀就停不下來。妮娜.瑞格斯關於生與死的回憶錄反思生命、家庭,如何與我們所愛共度存在的每一天──無論剩下多少時間。──葛瑞琴.魯賓(Gretchen Rubin),《過得還不錯的一年》作者

‧在痛苦的故事之下,埋藏著率真的幽默(我多次大笑出聲)及閃現的詩意……所有醫生和病人都該讀這本書……很難不把本書與《當呼吸化為空氣》相比,兩書作者都在三十歲後段發現自己正步向死亡,都以少見的犀利文筆寫下簡潔散文。兩本書同樣感人。──麥特.麥肯錫醫師(Dr. Matt McCarthy),《今日美國》

‧深刻又犀利……極為出色……當我放下這本書,我變得有些不同,變成一個更好的人──感受到難以承受的哀傷,以及瑞格斯所說的「這世界溫暖的懷抱」。──凱莉.柯利根(Kelly Corrigan),《歐普拉雜誌》

‧妮娜.瑞格斯讓我們進入她的世界,一起購買假髮、和她兒子談心,我們不可能不愛這個女人。這本書不是關於沉重的失落,而是關於愛的富饒,以及愛使我們振奮、支持我們的力量。她給家人及讀者一份禮物,這是多麼美好的一份禮物!──喬伊斯.梅納德(Joyce Maynard),《一日.一生》作者

‧這是一趟充滿情感的旅程,敘事中帶著赤裸裸的坦誠和淘氣的幽默。喜愛《當呼吸化為空氣》和《凝視死亡》的人也會喜歡此書。就如那兩本書,本書是關於死亡教導每個人的有力一課──如何活著。──威爾.史沃比(Will Schwalbe),《最後的讀書會》作者

‧迷人又勇敢,即便在毀滅之中,妮娜.瑞格斯的回憶錄仍滿載生命力與洞察──文句如此詩意,讓我一時喘不過氣。讓人心碎、幽默、思路清晰,而且完全沒有陳腔濫調。這本書是她,也是我們得來不易的寶物。──露西.卡拉尼提(Lucy Kalanithi),《當呼吸化為空氣》作者遺孀

‧與《當呼吸化為空氣》相提並論一點也不為過,但還不足以形容這本書有多好。──莎拉.史密斯(Sarah Harrison Smith),亞馬遜書評

‧這是本極為出色的作品、令人心碎的生命反思──不僅關於你該如何在活著的時候珍視生命,也關於怎麼擁抱生命的結束,是本年度的《當呼吸化為空氣》。──諾拉.庫克(Nora Krug),《華盛頓郵報》

‧瑞格斯的故事不僅受到緊追在後的黑暗的乳癌所驅動,也啟發自她度過的時光與讀過的書。別只為了本書的主題而讀,要為其中蘊含的洞見而讀。──Vulture 網站




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