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The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying

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An exquisite memoir about how to live--and love--every day with "death in the room," from poet Nina Riggs, mother of two young sons and the direct descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, in the tradition of When Breath Becomes Air. "We are breathless, but we love the days. They are promises. They are the only way to walk from one night to the other." Nina Riggs was just thirty-se An exquisite memoir about how to live--and love--every day with "death in the room," from poet Nina Riggs, mother of two young sons and the direct descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, in the tradition of When Breath Becomes Air. "We are breathless, but we love the days. They are promises. They are the only way to walk from one night to the other." Nina Riggs was just thirty-seven years old when initially diagnosed with breast cancer--one small spot. Within a year, the mother of two sons, ages seven and nine, and married sixteen years to her best friend, received the devastating news that her cancer was terminal. How does one live each day, "unattached to outcome"? How does one approach the moments, big and small, with both love and honesty? Exploring motherhood, marriage, friendship, and memory, even as she wrestles with the legacy of her great-great-great grandfather, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nina Riggs's breathtaking memoir continues the urgent conversation that Paul Kalanithi began in his gorgeous When Breath Becomes Air. She asks, what makes a meaningful life when one has limited time? Brilliantly written, disarmingly funny, and deeply moving, The Bright Hour is about how to love all the days, even the bad ones, and it's about the way literature, especially Emerson, and Nina's other muse, Montaigne, can be a balm and a form of prayer. It's a book about looking death squarely in the face and saying "this is what will be." Especially poignant in these uncertain times, The Bright Hour urges us to live well and not lose sight of what makes us human: love, art, music, words.


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An exquisite memoir about how to live--and love--every day with "death in the room," from poet Nina Riggs, mother of two young sons and the direct descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, in the tradition of When Breath Becomes Air. "We are breathless, but we love the days. They are promises. They are the only way to walk from one night to the other." Nina Riggs was just thirty-se An exquisite memoir about how to live--and love--every day with "death in the room," from poet Nina Riggs, mother of two young sons and the direct descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, in the tradition of When Breath Becomes Air. "We are breathless, but we love the days. They are promises. They are the only way to walk from one night to the other." Nina Riggs was just thirty-seven years old when initially diagnosed with breast cancer--one small spot. Within a year, the mother of two sons, ages seven and nine, and married sixteen years to her best friend, received the devastating news that her cancer was terminal. How does one live each day, "unattached to outcome"? How does one approach the moments, big and small, with both love and honesty? Exploring motherhood, marriage, friendship, and memory, even as she wrestles with the legacy of her great-great-great grandfather, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nina Riggs's breathtaking memoir continues the urgent conversation that Paul Kalanithi began in his gorgeous When Breath Becomes Air. She asks, what makes a meaningful life when one has limited time? Brilliantly written, disarmingly funny, and deeply moving, The Bright Hour is about how to love all the days, even the bad ones, and it's about the way literature, especially Emerson, and Nina's other muse, Montaigne, can be a balm and a form of prayer. It's a book about looking death squarely in the face and saying "this is what will be." Especially poignant in these uncertain times, The Bright Hour urges us to live well and not lose sight of what makes us human: love, art, music, words.

30 review for The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying

  1. 4 out of 5

    John Duberstein

    I would like to say my five star review is rooted in my own literary acumen and this particular book's compelling, beautiful, almost lyric prose. And the book is filled with beauty, lyric and profane. But since it was written by my wife, I feel like I have to come clean and say I'd be giving her five stars regardless, because I loved her more than anything. I love my kids a TON. They're amazing little guys, my favorite living people in the whole world, and I'd literally lay down in Boston traffi I would like to say my five star review is rooted in my own literary acumen and this particular book's compelling, beautiful, almost lyric prose. And the book is filled with beauty, lyric and profane. But since it was written by my wife, I feel like I have to come clean and say I'd be giving her five stars regardless, because I loved her more than anything. I love my kids a TON. They're amazing little guys, my favorite living people in the whole world, and I'd literally lay down in Boston traffic for them. But I'd swap them every day of the week for Nina. Sorry guys. Twice on Sundays. (Why Boston? Well, it may not be the worst traffic, but I think it's maybe got the drivers with the most mens rea of any city I've ever been to.). Seeing the book come together, getting to witness the transition from idea, to concept, to manuscript, now to nearly final publication, has been a treat not only because of the publication itself, but how much its helped me and my family focus on the important things Nina left us. Her talent, her wit, charm, beauty, and her complete refusal to let terminal disease ruin the few bright days she had left after her cancer ran wild. The Bright Hour will be a tremendous legacy for our two boys as they grow and learn to live with their loss, and anytime they want access to Nina, a huge part of her will be right there on the page. But I also hope as many people as possible will share in that legacy and get to know Nina as well as anyone can now that she's gone. And not just because of the loss at such a young age, but because of the amazing person she was and the tremendous talent she had for sharing her vision for leading a good life, even under the shadow of terminal disease. Trust me: She was the absolute best and it comes through beautifully here in The Bright Hour.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Drew Perry

    Nina Riggs was a dear friend and a writer so sharp and insistent and unflinching it made everyone who read her work feel like they might not be living quite hard enough. Here's why nobody ought to read a friend's review: we're all grieving her loss so intensely that nobody can see quite right any more. Here's why everybody ought to read this book anyway: Nina achieved something in the last year of her life that most of us only dream of, which is to say, she made something truly beautiful from th Nina Riggs was a dear friend and a writer so sharp and insistent and unflinching it made everyone who read her work feel like they might not be living quite hard enough. Here's why nobody ought to read a friend's review: we're all grieving her loss so intensely that nobody can see quite right any more. Here's why everybody ought to read this book anyway: Nina achieved something in the last year of her life that most of us only dream of, which is to say, she made something truly beautiful from the chaos of her everyday life. That her everyday life eventually meant an aggressively metastasizing cancer that she managed not just to write through but well beyond -- that's not just triumph but actual here-and-now miracle. This is a book about loving your kids and your spouse and your dogs even when it's hard to; about loving them unabashedly when you get to; about trying to reckon with a disease that cares nothing about time or space or last chances or any of the other ephemera that glue days together; about Montaigne and Emerson and a tiny island off the coast of Massachusetts that serves as a kind of touchstone and home base any reader will recognize; about the landscape of neighborhoods; about backyards and cocktails and stolen hours and friendships and families. It's about adolescence and parenthood and cosmopolitan Paris and suburban stateside dinner parties. It's about diagnosis and hope and reckoning. Mainly, though, it's a deeply honest reminder that none of us have all the time we'd wish for, and a quiet -- if fierce -- suggestion that we pay close, close attention to the time we do have. My heart's not just broken because Nina was my friend. My heart is broken by the book itself -- in some complicated, awful ways, but in the very best of ways, too. This is what we want of the best of books: to read them, and to be unable to go about our lives as we had before.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    “Do they have book club in the afterlife?” “I love you” ...... “I love you” .... “I love you”..... “these are the things we say now after book club” ..... “Why didn’t we say them before?” Nina Riggs was 38 years of age when she was diagnosed with incurable breast cancer. This is the memoir she wrote before she died at the age of 39. It all started with one spot found on her breast. A dot! Nina writes about having cancer - treatments -radioactive dye- bone scans- warm blankets - etc.- her family (hu “Do they have book club in the afterlife?” “I️ love you” ...... “I️ love you” .... “I️ love you”..... “these are the things we say now after book club” ..... “Why didn’t we say them before?” Nina Riggs was 38 years of age when she was diagnosed with incurable breast cancer. This is the memoir she wrote before she died at the age of 39. It all started with one spot found on her breast. A dot! Nina writes about having cancer - treatments -radioactive dye- bone scans- warm blankets - etc.- her family (husband and two sons) - she writes about the new dog they bought - her love of poetry - literature - ( having been a teacher), vacations, basketball, book club, music, therapy, her mother’s cancer, friends, nature, humor, TV shows, ‘touch’ with her husband, words of gifts, ....from the power of prayer .... Nina, a descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, found comfort in reading his work and also the philosopher Michael de Montaigne. These quotes were beautiful. This is another book about cancer. Nina does die. — but THIS IS NOT JUST ANOTHER ONE of *THOSE* books.....as if there isn’t incredibly life-altering ways of looking at life - living - and death. It’s another book that is teaching us about dying. I️ liked how Nina connects a relationship between pilgrims and death. — This book is not written with a depressing slant. It’s still sad that Nina dies. *Nina* explores many of the same questions that Paul Kalanithi explored in “When Breath Becomes Air”...” what makes life worth living in the face of death?” The poetry readings come through lovely on the audiobook. Audio-Narrator, Cassandra Campbell is excellent as the reader of this book. Books like these DO MAKE US APPRECIATE LIFE. Nina Riggs made a great contribution writing this memoir before she died. Blessings to her husband and children.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A natural successor, or partner, to When Breath Becomes Air, with which it shares beautiful prose and a literary/philosophical approach to terminal cancer. It’s a wonderful book, so wry and honest, with a voice that reminds me of Anne Lamott and Elizabeth McCracken. (For a while there was a sweet epilogue to these real-life losses: Riggs’ widower and Paul Kalanithi’s widow were temporarily an item! See this article.) It started with a tiny spot of cancer in the breast. “No one dies from one small A natural successor, or partner, to When Breath Becomes Air, with which it shares beautiful prose and a literary/philosophical approach to terminal cancer. It’s a wonderful book, so wry and honest, with a voice that reminds me of Anne Lamott and Elizabeth McCracken. (For a while there was a sweet epilogue to these real-life losses: Riggs’ widower and Paul Kalanithi’s widow were temporarily an item! See this article.) It started with a tiny spot of cancer in the breast. “No one dies from one small spot,” Nina Riggs and her husband told themselves. Until it wasn’t just a spot but a larger tumor that required a mastectomy. And then there was the severe back pain that alerted them to metastases in her spine, and later in her lungs. Riggs was a great-great-great-granddaughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and she quotes from her ancestor’s essays as well as from Michel de Montaigne’s philosophy of life to bring things into perspective for herself. Indeed, the title quote is from Emerson’s journal in 1838: “That is morning; to cease for a bright hour to be a prisoner of this sickly body, and to become as large as the World.” Riggs started out as a poet, and you can tell. She’s an expert at capturing the moments that make life alternately euphoric and unbearable – sometimes both at once. Usually these moments are experienced with family: her tough mother, who died after nine years with multiple myeloma, providing her with a kind of “morbid test drive” for her own death; and her husband and their two precocious sons. Whether she’s choosing an expensive couch, bringing home a puppy, or surprising her sons with a trip to Universal Studios, she’s always engaged in life. You never get a sense of resignation or despair. The book is even funny, making you smile through the pain. Some of my favorite lines: “inside the MRI machine, where it sounded like hostile aliens had formed a punk band” “my pubic hair all falls out at once in the shower and shows up like a drowned muskrat in the drain.” “My wig smells toxic and makes me feel like a bank robber. But maybe it is just a cloak for riding out into suspicious country.” “‘Merry Christmas,’ says a nurse who is measuring my urine into a jug in the bathroom. ‘Do you want some pain meds? Do you want another stool softener?’” Nina Riggs died at the age of 39 on February 23, 2017.

  5. 4 out of 5

    BookBully

    So. I was not prepared to collapse into this book like I did. My friends know I'm not a huge memoir fan and often I find books of this nature fall into the "pity me" category. But, oh, Nina Riggs. How you captured my interest and pulled me along with you! Yes, this is a cancer book. Yes, it's sad and scary and, especially for mothers, frightening at times. Do not let that stop you from experiencing the gorgeous, unique prose from this bright, funny, marvelous woman. Often I felt as if the author So. I was not prepared to collapse into this book like I did. My friends know I'm not a huge memoir fan and often I find books of this nature fall into the "pity me" category. But, oh, Nina Riggs. How you captured my interest and pulled me along with you! Yes, this is a cancer book. Yes, it's sad and scary and, especially for mothers, frightening at times. Do not let that stop you from experiencing the gorgeous, unique prose from this bright, funny, marvelous woman. Often I felt as if the author was snuggled up next to me on my couch, recounting her story as we sipped drinks and made our way through a bag of Pepperidge Farm cookies. I think many a reader will feel they knew Nina and, like me, are already missing her. My heart goes out to Nina's husband, her two sons, her family and friends. Yet I hope they are immensely proud of this book. What a tremendous gift!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Price

    Nina is diagnosed with breast cancer ("no one dies from one tiny spot"), and her disease later progresses to stage IV (in her lungs). This is her memoir on living with cancer, thoughts on death and dying, and comment on life. With my own Stage IV diagnosis, I thought it would be easy to find myself in Nina's story but for some reason I couldn't connect. I skimmed most of the last half. There were punishing moments where she brought me to tears (for example, when her husband wakes her in the nigh Nina is diagnosed with breast cancer ("no one dies from one tiny spot"), and her disease later progresses to stage IV (in her lungs). This is her memoir on living with cancer, thoughts on death and dying, and comment on life. With my own Stage IV diagnosis, I thought it would be easy to find myself in Nina's story but for some reason I couldn't connect. I skimmed most of the last half. There were punishing moments where she brought me to tears (for example, when her husband wakes her in the night to say "I'm so scared I can't breathe"), however even against the beautiful writing I found it too fancy for me. The writing, the stories, the constant reference to Emerson (a distant relative) and Montaigne - I just couldn't connect. Not a criticism, as this is her memoir and her life, it just didn't affect me as it so clearly has for others.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kaytee Bole (glitteringeyes418 on Instagram)

    I appreciated the conversational and honest writing style and the short, vignette-like chapters. What really took away from the book for me were the constant reminders to all of us that she was a descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson as well as frequently bringing up the philosopher Montaigne. A little excerpt here and there would have been fine, but here it felt excessive.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ammar

    I would like to thank Simon & Schuster Canada for the ARC of this book. I was impressed it was in Hardcover. I loved the cream coloured jacket with what looked like bath bombs that you can get from Lush. This is a terrific memoir with a very strong start. The chapters are small. In some instances they are just a paragraph. The book is divided into 4 stages .. the same way cancer is categorized. Nina Riggs takes us on a journey into her life.. her past and her present and her hopes for the fu I would like to thank Simon & Schuster Canada for the ARC of this book. I was impressed it was in Hardcover. I loved the cream coloured jacket with what looked like bath bombs that you can get from Lush. This is a terrific memoir with a very strong start. The chapters are small. In some instances they are just a paragraph. The book is divided into 4 stages .. the same way cancer is categorized. Nina Riggs takes us on a journey into her life.. her past and her present and her hopes for the future. A mixture of laughter and tears. Smiles and depression. We get to know her husband John and her two kids. And her mom who is dying from cancer and eventually dies before Nina. She is a descendent of Emerson. So there is a good bit about Emerson, Walden, his quotes, lifestyle and love of nature. There is also a bit of Montaigne in this book too. I feel like Montaigne has been creeping a lot lately in memoirs in the past few years. This memoir will hit a cord with a lot of people, and will in my opinion prove popular with the readers.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Maureen L.

    I didn’t like this book. Do you know how our brains leap around from thought to thought, much like monkeys in a tree randomly jump from branch to branch? Well, this book felt similarly jumbled and chaotic, a bunch of random incidents, thoughts, memories, experiences, leaping here, there and everywhere. The whole book, with all of its many sentence fragments, seemed thrown together in an incoherent, fragmented mish-mash held tenuously together by the thread of the progression of her illness. I al I didn’t like this book. Do you know how our brains leap around from thought to thought, much like monkeys in a tree randomly jump from branch to branch? Well, this book felt similarly jumbled and chaotic, a bunch of random incidents, thoughts, memories, experiences, leaping here, there and everywhere. The whole book, with all of its many sentence fragments, seemed thrown together in an incoherent, fragmented mish-mash held tenuously together by the thread of the progression of her illness. I also wondered why she felt it necessary to keep reminding readers that Ralph Waldo Emerson was an ancestor of hers, almost as if she was trying to gain legitimacy as a writer by hitching her wagon to his engine. By all means, mention it in passing, but then move on. No need to keep mentioning the familial connection; it’s largely irrelevant. Lastly, I kept waiting for something beautiful, profound, soulful, insightful, meaningful (something? anything?) like Paul Kalanithi’s eloquent, touching memoir, “When Breath Becomes Air.” Didn’t happen. What I did get from this book is that cancer is a vicious, cruel, merciless disease. But, I already knew that.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Text Publishing

    ‘Often funny and absurd, The Bright Hour is about sitting with your own mortality, and the idea of your life coming to an end always being in the room with you…Nina reminds us not to waste time under the covers and instead get out there and make the most of it.’ Frankie ‘This haunting memoir leads the reader into the innermost chambers of the writer’s life: into the mind and heart, the work and home and family of a young woman alternately seeking to make peace with, and raging against, the realit ‘Often funny and absurd, The Bright Hour is about sitting with your own mortality, and the idea of your life coming to an end always being in the room with you…Nina reminds us not to waste time under the covers and instead get out there and make the most of it.’ Frankie ‘This haunting memoir leads the reader into the innermost chambers of the writer’s life: into the mind and heart, the work and home and family of a young woman alternately seeking to make peace with, and raging against, the reality of her approaching death. While sadness is inevitable, this is not a discouraging chronicle. As the body succumbs to the ailment, the mind is sharp and vigilant: an inspired, creative intelligence…Her criterions are many, from Montaigne to Stevie Wonder, but at the core of her meditations is the thirst for life, its meaning and an unbelievable blend of light and joy.’ PS News ‘The Bright Hour is clearly a project that helped Riggs accept her fate, and we as readers are given a glimpse into that very earnest, beautiful, and sad conclusion. This is not a happy book. But it’s an important one that will make you take a step back and reflect on your own life in a way you normally don’t have time to do.’ Yahoo NZ ‘Gorgeous and brave, Nina Riggs’s memoir explodes with life and insight even amid ruin – with lines so poetic they knocked the wind out of me. It’s heartbreaking, funny, clear-eyed, and entirely devoid of cliché. This book is her hard-won treasure, and ours.’ Dr. Lucy Kalanithi ‘How a woman can have this much emotional clarity and narrative power while fighting for her life should astonish every last one of us. Magical. Unforgettable.’ Kelly Corrigan ‘Once I started this book, I couldn’t stop reading. Profound, absorbing, and often even funny, Nina Riggs’s memoir of living and dying is a meditation on life, family, and how to cram every day of our existence with what we love—no matter how much time we have left. Brilliant and illuminating.’ Gretchen Rubin ‘Nina Riggs writes gorgeously and with astonishing clarity about her own terminal illness, about losing her mother, about her marriage and her children, about books that have guided her, and also about the often comical challenges of daily life as a busy parent. Riggs never shies away from describing the terrible sadness and messiness of her own dying, but also manages to suffuse this book with a miraculous blend of light and joy. This is an emotional journey told with raw honesty and also a sly sense of humour. The Bright Hour is an instant classic that deserves to be read by everyone who loved When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi and Being Mortal by Atul Guwande. Like those, here is a book about dying that has powerful lessons for everyone about how to live.’ Will Schwalbe ‘Nina Riggs could have written a memoir about dying. Instead, she has given us a book exploding with life. Every page of The Bright Hour (“bright” the operative word here) is filled with the mysterious, messy, funny, heartbreaking stuff that only happens in the most loving of families. Clearly, hers is one. Writing with frank and exquisite honesty and a striking absence of sentimentality or self-pity in the final days of a terminal struggle, she explores everything from her children’s choice of Halloween costumes and her own, of a new sofa, to the essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Montaigne. Though no doubt challenged by constant physical depletion and grief—a fact of her illness she chooses not to dwell on—Riggs emerges as a character whose ultimate victory will not take the form of beating cancer, but of refusing to allow cancer to destroy her life-embracing spirit. As she allows us into her world of wig shopping and heart to heart conversations with her boys, it becomes impossible not to love this woman (also her quirky, tenderly rendered sons, and her quietly suffering husband, whose future remarriage she allows herself to envision). The tragedy of Riggs’s illness and impending death hangs over every page, but in the end, this is a book not about crushing loss but about the richness of love and its power to uplift and sustain us. What a gift she has given to her family, and to any reader of this beautiful book.’ Joyce Maynard ‘A luminous, heartbreaking symphony of wit, wisdom, pain, parenting and perseverance against insurmountable odds.’ Kirkus Reviews, starred review ‘Riggs reminds us that we are all in this world until we leave it; the gallows humor surrounding her mother’s funeral will make readers howl guiltily but appreciatively. Whether confronting disease or not, everyone should read this beautifully crafted book as it imbues life and loved ones with a particularly transcendent glow.’ Library Journal, starred review ‘Gorgeous and brave, Nina Riggs’s memoir explodes with life and insight even amid ruin—with lines so poetic they knocked the wind out of me. It’s heartbreaking, funny, clear-eyed, and entirely devoid of cliché. This book is her hard-won treasure, and ours.’ Lucy Kalanithi ‘Once I started this book, I couldn’t stop reading. Profound, absorbing, and often even funny, Nina Riggs’s memoir of living and dying is a meditation on life, family, and how to cram every day of our existence with what we love—no matter how much time we have left. Brilliant and illuminating.’ Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before ‘How a woman can have this much emotional clarity and narrative power while fighting for her life should astonish every last one of us. Magical. Unforgettable.’ Kelly Corrigan, author of The Middle Place and Glitter and Glue ‘Nina Riggs could have written a memoir about dying. Instead, she has given us a book exploding with life. Every page of The Bright Hour (‘bright’ the operative word here) is filled with the mysterious, messy, funny, heartbreaking stuff that only happens in the most loving of families. Clearly, hers is one. Writing with frank and exquisite honesty and a striking absence of sentimentality or self-pity in the final days of a terminal struggle, she explores everything from her children’s choice of Halloween costumes and her own, of a new sofa, to the essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Montaigne. Though no doubt challenged by constant physical depletion and grief—a fact of her illness she chooses not to dwell on—Riggs emerges as a character whose ultimate victory will not take the form of beating cancer, but of refusing to allow cancer to destroy her life-embracing spirit. As she allows us into her world of wig shopping and heart-to-heart conversations with her boys, it becomes impossible not to love this woman (also her quirky, tenderly rendered sons, and her quietly suffering husband, whose future remarriage she allows herself to envision). The tragedy of Riggs’s illness and impending death hangs over every page, but in the end, this is a book not about crushing loss but about the richness of love and its power to uplift and sustain us. What a gift she has given to her family, and to any reader of this beautiful book.’ Joyce Maynard ‘Nina Riggs writes gorgeously and with astonishing clarity about her own terminal illness, about losing her mother, about her marriage and her children, about books that have guided her, and also about the often comical challenges of daily life as a busy parent. Riggs never shies away from describing the terrible sadness and messiness of her own dying, but also manages to suffuse this book with a miraculous blend of light and joy. This is an emotional journey told with raw honesty and also a sly sense of humor. The Bright Hour is an instant classic that deserves to be read by everyone who loved When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi and Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. Like those, here is a book about dying that has powerful lessons for everyone about how to live.’ Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Bookclub and Books for Living ‘Cancer might have taken Nina Riggs’s life, but it never once vanquished her: in this brave and beautiful book she lives on. Knowing that she died not long after completing it is such a wrench to the heart—yet what an amazing gift she has left behind for her readers.’ Debra Adelaide ‘A thoughtful and heartbreaking exploration of what makes life meaningful in a person’s remaining days…Buried within this agonizing tale are moments of levity—I laughed out loud many, many times—and flashes of poetry…A book every doctor and patient should read.’ USA Today ‘With The Bright Hour, Riggs leaves behind a literary legacy that captures both her incredible talent and her unwavering love for her family…Her lyrical, honest prose immerses the reader in her world; you feel the fear, the despair, the joy…But though one might expect a tome of sadness and despair from a writer with only months left to live, Riggs fills her memoir with vivid, messy, beautiful life.’ News Observer ‘A moving reminder of the precious gift of life.’ Mindfood ‘The Bright Hour is, as the subtitle indicates, an account of life and death, but it’s the living that shines, in this gloriously irreverent, sometimes objective account of the author’s terminal cancer.’  Good Reading ‘[A] deeply moving (and often funny) memoir.’ Marie Claire ‘Incredibly insightful…A meditation on life and how to live and, in the end, how to die.’ Australian ‘[Riggs] doesn't gloss over what lies ahead, and the results are at times hilarious. Heartbreaking, honest and uplifting.’ Woman’s Day ‘In this tender memoir Riggs displays a keen awareness of and reverence for all the moments of life—both the light, and the dark, “the cruel, and the beautiful”.’ Publishers Weekly ‘Profound and poignant...I put down The Bright Hour a slightly different, and better, person - unbearably sad and also feeling, as Riggs did, “the hug of the world”.’ O Magazine ‘This gorgeous chronicle of the last year of her life–brimming with seemingly mundane details about parenting, buying a couch, getting a puppy–is a gentle reminder to cherish each day.’ Entertainment Weekly, Best New Books ‘Touching and wickedly funny.’ Glamour ‘Moving and often very funny…You can read a multitude of books about how to die, but Riggs, a dying woman, will show you how to live.’ New York Times Book Review ‘The antithesis of grim: an irreverent and poignant Baedeker through the country of illness.’ Wall Street Journal ‘Her observations about cancer are frank and unsentimental [but] they are also tart and hilarious...Like the bestselling When Breath Becomes Air, the work she left behind is a beautiful testament to the quiet magic of everyday life and making the most of the time we are given, whether it’s spent taking last-minute trips to Paris, wallpapering the mudroom, or reveling in a newly purchased couch. New York Post ‘As a poet she composed The Bright Hour with delicacy, love of language, full awareness, and a realism that almost hurts to read and absorb...A family history, a personal memoir, and a roadmap for others to follow, The Bright Hour is a story to embrace, learn from and recommend to good friends.’ Book Reporter ‘This is one of those confusing books that will have you teary while also snorting with laughter. Basically, you will need tissues...The Bright Hour is filled with wonderful wit and irreverence in the face of death, making it truly memorable.’ Whimn ‘While the looming presence of impending death is ubiquitous throughout the book, it’s also a work teeming with limitless love, humour and perseverance…It’s a truly inspiring and—in the end—uplifting memoir; the kind of work that makes you want to take a step back and get a better look at your life to remind yourself what really matters.’ Reader’s Digest UK, Best New Books to Read This Summer ‘There is an inevitable rolling sadness throughout the memoir – but it is never depressing because, although [Riggs’s] body is succumbing to the condition, her mind is sharp and alert: a creative, imaginative intelligence.’ Sydney Morning Herald ‘Deeply affecting…A simultaneously heartbreaking and funny account of living with loss and the spectre of death. As she lyrically, unflinchingly details her reality, she finds beauty and truth that comfort even amid the crushing sadness.’ Who Weekly ‘The Bright Hour is Nina Riggs’ magnum opus and it’s a great legacy. This memoir is an absolute gem which will offer great relief and comfort for people finding themselves facing similar circumstances either in their own illness or through their loved ones. For the other readers this work is a poignant and stirring reminder of how to live life to the full and to appreciate the things you love, and to accept the things that you cannot change. It’s so incredibly heart-breaking and gorgeous. Thank you Nina.’ AU Review ‘Warm, elegant and, above all, encouraging.’ Good Weekend ‘Riggs brings a poet’s eye  for detail to her story.’ Otago Daily Times ‘Warm, honest and insightful.’ Good Housekeeping UK ‘There’s plenty of life lessons and beautiful lines you’ll want to circle and then send to your mates.’ Cosmopolitan UK ‘Deeply moving…It will likely make you tear up, for the children and husband she left behind, and the way in which she graciously shares the last moments of her life. It will also remind you to live in the present moment, taking in everything - big or small - and encourage you to fill your days with what, and who, you love.’ M2 Woman ‘Equally heartbreaking and hilarious…The Bright Hour is difficult to read, but more difficult to put down. It made me laugh and cry simultaneously, and I can’t recall the last book that did that to me…Easily one of the best I have read this year.’ Hot Chicks with Big Brains

  11. 4 out of 5

    Renee (itsbooktalk.com)

    You can find all my reviews at www.itsbooktalk.com I love everything about the very long blurb; I think it tells you all you need to know in terms of what this book is about. And Nina's writing absolutely delivered on sharing with us her very poignant, thought provoking, often laugh out loud funny answers to every single question listed in that blurb. Now that you've read the blurb and know what this phenomenal book is about, let me attempt to share with you why I loved it so much. I only hope I You can find all my reviews at www.itsbooktalk.com I love everything about the very long blurb; I think it tells you all you need to know in terms of what this book is about. And Nina's writing absolutely delivered on sharing with us her very poignant, thought provoking, often laugh out loud funny answers to every single question listed in that blurb. Now that you've read the blurb and know what this phenomenal book is about, let me attempt to share with you why I loved it so much. I only hope I can do it justice. When I pick up a memoir, which arguably isn't often, it's usually always something true crime. Last year I decided to branch out and read When Breath Becomes Air which was a truly remarkable story and challenged me to think about mortality for maybe the first time. So, The Bright Hour is being likened to When Breath Becomes Air which is possibly good and bad. Good because so many people LOVED WBBA (it made my top 10 reads of 2016 list) but bad because no one should for one second think...'Oh I've read one book about death and dying, I don't want or need to read this one....' This book is completely unique and I have to say struck me on a level that WBBA didn't. I'm not sure if it's because Nina was a mom of 2 boys who was dealing with life, marriage, dogs, female friendships, etc and I'm also at a similar point in my life, although my boys are older, but I just immediately connected with her voice and writing. From page one I felt like we were sitting having a glass of wine and she was telling me her story. Here's just a sample of her down to earth yet gorgeous writing from page one...    "Dying isn't the end of the world', my mother liked to joke after she was diagnosed as terminal...I never really understood what she meant, until the day I suddenly did....There are so many things that are worse than death: old grudges, a lack of self-awareness, severe constipation, no sense of humor, the grimace on your husband's face as he empties your surgical drain into the measuring cup..." Nina not only had her own diagnosis to come to terms with but she also had her mother's. I really, really liked her mom! I laughed about some of their book club discussions and then cried when they questioned whether there's book clubs in heaven...man, I really hope so! For me, this was the ultimate page turner that I never expected to be a page turner because once I started reading I didn't stop until the last page was turned. And then I spent the next hour crying. And going back in my kindle and trying to find passages I may have forgot to highlight. So yes, tissues will be needed but I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. I was sad in the end, yes, but I was also changed and inspired. When I pick up a book I do so in the HOPE I will in some way be moved and Nina Riggs achieved this with The Bright Hour, a heartfelt book about family, love, the power of words, living and dying.  This is absolutely going on my 5 star reads bookshelf at home and I can guarantee you it will be one of my top 5 reads of 2017.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Peebee

    I always feel a little strange giving stars to memoirs -- it's like you're grading someone's life. And then when the memoir is about them dying, it's even worse -- how can you give a bad grade to someone who's dead? But this book has very high marks from a lot of other people, so my average grade is not going to make much difference overall. In a week where I had suffered considerable loss, it was time to read this book. And while I don't regret it, I was nonetheless disappointed. There are some I always feel a little strange giving stars to memoirs -- it's like you're grading someone's life. And then when the memoir is about them dying, it's even worse -- how can you give a bad grade to someone who's dead? But this book has very high marks from a lot of other people, so my average grade is not going to make much difference overall. In a week where I had suffered considerable loss, it was time to read this book. And while I don't regret it, I was nonetheless disappointed. There are some lovely, transcendent passages in this book, and I really appreciated the opportunity to get to know Nina and her family. However, if she had lived, while she might not have had a book deal, there would have been more desperately-needed editing. The constant literary references to Emerson, Montaigne and others really weighed the book down, and it was pretty heavy already. And the really short chapters, some only a paragraph or two, kept the narrative from being as cohesive as it could have been. I'm thrilled that Nina's husband John appears to be dating Paul Kalanithi's wife Lucy and I hope that the bonding their grief and similar experiences has spawned provides them both comfort and potentially love. As books go, Kalanithi's was much better, but of course I wish everyone the best.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Emilie

    All of the highest praise for this gorgeous, wise, profound, essential book. A million stars.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

    Former director of palliative care at a large hospital in Toronto, author/speaker/teacher Stephen Jenkinson has commented that people die as they live. There may be no dramatic revelations or reckonings, no great wisdom about life to dispense . . . Therein lies the problem with this memoir—at least, the problem for me. Nina Riggs was relatively young—not quite forty—when she died. In this there is sadness, of course, but the observations, the conversations, the circumstances (that form the conte Former director of palliative care at a large hospital in Toronto, author/speaker/teacher Stephen Jenkinson has commented that people die as they live. There may be no dramatic revelations or reckonings, no great wisdom about life to dispense . . . Therein lies the problem with this memoir—at least, the problem for me. Nina Riggs was relatively young—not quite forty—when she died. In this there is sadness, of course, but the observations, the conversations, the circumstances (that form the content of this book) are neither unusual nor extraordinary. Nina Riggs sounds as though she was a lovely, even-tempered person, who loved her young children and her husband dearly. She appears to have gotten along well with her family of origin and her in-laws, and she had a network of lively friends—one of whom was dealing with aggressive breast cancer, just as Nina was. The two often compared notes, and some of these “notes” appear in the book. Generally, Riggs’s memoir focuses on domestic details (particularly about her children), with some discussion of the ongoing tests and chemotherapy she endured to assess and address a cancer that was just not going to behave and go away. As Nina grappled with her own condition, she also lost her mother to cancer. Details of that death and her mother’s memorial service are included. (There is also a rather disturbing scene in which her parents’/family dog is euthanized.) The memoir, written in the present tense (a choice I almost always bristle at—it just sounds unnatural and forced), feels quite journal-like. The book is not gloomy; it’s mostly pretty matter-of-fact and “every-day-ish”. There are occasional literary nods to Emerson—from whom Nina is descended. Overall, the tone felt unemotional, even flat, to me. The conversations with friends and family that are reported tend to be clever, ironic . . . humorous. Fears, arguments, stormy psychological states are mostly absent from this piece. Perhaps the more afflictive emotions were “handled” with a characteristic New-England stoicism or “Emersonian” style. Whatever the case, they don’t seem to have made it into the book. I believe this memoir was an important project for Riggs. It certainly is a precious document for her family. However, I was rather surprised to see it mentioned as one of the best books of 2017. Far be it from me to pronounce any kind of judgement on Riggs herself. I can only say that the details she spent her time documenting did not add up to a compelling piece of work. I think I expected something sharper and edgier. I recognize I’m in the minority here when I say that this is not a book I’d recommend. Instead, I’d suggest Cory Taylor’s memoir, Dying . In that book, I had a sense of a unique “consciousness” at work—reflecting, looking back across the years, sifting through memories, trying to understand the meaning and marvel of it all, and quietly considering the reality of her death.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Yelda Basar Moers

    Nina Riggs was the great-great-great granddaughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the beloved, brilliant Transcendentalist poet and essayist whose work I adore. Nina was a poet herself and a lover of books. At the young age of 37 when she was a mother to boys the same age as my two boys-- 5 and 8-- she received a breast cancer diagnosis (a fate that many mothers with young children these days are facing). It seemed quite treatable at first, however the disease progressed, became terminal, and at the ag Nina Riggs was the great-great-great granddaughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the beloved, brilliant Transcendentalist poet and essayist whose work I adore. Nina was a poet herself and a lover of books. At the young age of 37 when she was a mother to boys the same age as my two boys-- 5 and 8-- she received a breast cancer diagnosis (a fate that many mothers with young children these days are facing). It seemed quite treatable at first, however the disease progressed, became terminal, and at the age of 39 she passed away. Her memoir is her attempt to make sense of it all. It was published last month to great critical acclaim. This is not an easy read. Many of its pages moved me to tears. Sometimes I had to stop and put it aside and pick it up again a day or two later. I was beside myself at times, getting to know Nina and connecting with her passion for books, poetry and writing. Having boys the same age as Nina I was constantly putting myself in her shoes, what would I do, what would I think? And yes--like her--I would turn to books for guidance on how to navigate this almost impossible path. Her journey on the page is moving, but it is also painful and when death is in the room, there really are no answers. This book changed me. It made me think about life, about death, about the little things and the big things-- the things we have, and the things we must leave behind. It is real and raw and honest in its attempt to make something beautiful out of something as stark and upsetting as death. It truly makes you appreciate each and every moment of being alive in the most visceral of ways. I truly have never read anything like it. My heart goes out to Nina and her family and I wish them peace, solace and strength. I am grateful for this book and for Nina's work as a writer.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    What to say about this stunning, heartbreaking memoir that could ever do it justice? The author is diagnosed with terminal cancer the same year that her beloved mother dies AND her son is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Any one of these things could be a memoir on its own. Also, the author was a poet by trade, and this is stark and beautiful and evocative and devastating in the way good poetry can be. I sobbed throughout, and some of the most gripping moments aren't directly about the author's i What to say about this stunning, heartbreaking memoir that could ever do it justice? The author is diagnosed with terminal cancer the same year that her beloved mother dies AND her son is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Any one of these things could be a memoir on its own. Also, the author was a poet by trade, and this is stark and beautiful and evocative and devastating in the way good poetry can be. I sobbed throughout, and some of the most gripping moments aren't directly about the author's illness, but her grappling with the loss of her mother. When she texts her (now dead) mom a picture of a plastic pitcher and says "Dad wants to put you in this, please come back," I was wracked with full-body sobs. Another favorite part, when her therapist says don't picture the children missing you, but what they might accomplish in your honor. Picture them accepting an Academy Award, and pointing toward heaven. So many simple and gorgeous moments and completely devastating throughout, because you know how this ends. So glad that Nina Riggs took time from her last precious months to give the world this remarkable piece of art. Her family must be so proud of the guts and beauty of her, and this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brettne

    This is the most gorgeous memoir I've ever read, and a primer on how to live life fully, honestly, and courageously, no matter how much time we have left. Here are some of my favorite passages: "And there it is: The beautiful, vibrant, living world goes on." "I'm terrified. I'm fine. The world is changed and exactly as before." "These days, these are my people--the Feeling Pretty Poorlies--but I haven't really seen us as we are in a long time." "'I want all of it--all the things to do with living--a This is the most gorgeous memoir I've ever read, and a primer on how to live life fully, honestly, and courageously, no matter how much time we have left. Here are some of my favorite passages: "And there it is: The beautiful, vibrant, living world goes on." "I'm terrified. I'm fine. The world is changed and exactly as before." "These days, these are my people--the Feeling Pretty Poorlies--but I haven't really seen us as we are in a long time." "'I want all of it--all the things to do with living--and I want them to keep feeling messy and confusing and even sometimes boring. The carpool line and the backpacks and the light that fills the room in the building where I wait while the kids take piano lessons. The sound of my extended family laughing downstairs. My chemo hair growing in quickly in thick, wild chunks." And on and on. I love every word of this book. What an amazing legacy Nina left for her husband, her boys, and for us all.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sue Gerhardt Griffiths

    A beautifully written memoir that reads like a long gorgeous lyrical poem. I was immediately drawn to Nina Riggs’s words - they touched me in ways I can’t begin to explain. At first I wasn’t sure how I’d feel reading a memoir about a person with cancer and why I even chose to enter the giveaway, watching my dad the last few weeks lose a little bit of life each day to this most disgusting of diseases, did I really want to read more details about the big C? However, Nina Riggs’s story, her beautifu A beautifully written memoir that reads like a long gorgeous lyrical poem. I was immediately drawn to Nina Riggs’s words - they touched me in ways I can’t begin to explain. At first I wasn’t sure how I’d feel reading a memoir about a person with cancer and why I even chose to enter the giveaway, watching my dad the last few weeks lose a little bit of life each day to this most disgusting of diseases, did I really want to read more details about the big C? However, Nina Riggs’s story, her beautiful words placed a small amount of tranquility over an unbearable churning that’s inside of me, of course, at times there’s still a little rage and many tears and, then I recall her words: “The beautiful, vibrant, living world goes on.” Yes, it goes on and I will live life to the full, for my dad and for everyone with a terminal disease. I loved every word of this book. And I would like to thank Text Publishing and Goodreads Giveaways for this review copy.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Barbara (The Bibliophage)

    Nina Riggs wrote The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying as she was being treated for stage four breast cancer, the kind that’s become only treatable, not curable. During the same time, Nina was saying goodbye to her mother, who had the same disease and prognosis. That gives you an idea of what to expect from this book. But expectations are only part of reality, and Riggs finds many bright and funny spots in the everyday moments of her life. She and her husband are parenting two young boys, Nina Riggs wrote The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying as she was being treated for stage four breast cancer, the kind that’s become only treatable, not curable. During the same time, Nina was saying goodbye to her mother, who had the same disease and prognosis. That gives you an idea of what to expect from this book. But expectations are only part of reality, and Riggs finds many bright and funny spots in the everyday moments of her life. She and her husband are parenting two young boys, and as boys will, they do seriously goofy stuff. It helps balance the heartbreak of thinking about leaving them behind. Full review at TheBibliophage.com.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    Is it weird to have someone else's memoir as your favorite book?!?! Because this is one of my favorite books and ABSOLUTELY one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. I've been ruminating on it for days and still don't know how to review it other to say that you need to read it. The clarity and grace that Riggs provides is a gift to us all.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sherri Thacker

    Wow. What a beautifully written book! She was a true fighter!!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emma Sea

    gorgeous. devoured it in half a day.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sharif

    I debated with myself for several days over whether I would write a review of The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs, when I knew my review would be less than glowingly positive, as so many reviews I've read have been. I was hesitant, for one, because I didn't want to come across as callously unsympathetic to the story of a woman who was courageous enough to tell the poignant story of her suffering through the throes of cancer and chemotherapy, and all while raising her two children, being a devoted wife I debated with myself for several days over whether I would write a review of The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs, when I knew my review would be less than glowingly positive, as so many reviews I've read have been. I was hesitant, for one, because I didn't want to come across as callously unsympathetic to the story of a woman who was courageous enough to tell the poignant story of her suffering through the throes of cancer and chemotherapy, and all while raising her two children, being a devoted wife, and caring for her mother who also suffered and eventually passed away from cancer. However, at some point it dawned on me during my self-debate that I'm fortunate to live in a country in which conscientious and compassionate individuals can express their opinion without fear of being harshly castigated. So with that said, I was initially drawn to The Bright Hour by the many glowingly supportive reviews and blurbs I'd discovered. It was clear to me that the book's publishers decided to promote the memoir by comparing it to the truly remarkable memoir When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. For anyone who's read and loved Kalanithi's memoir, such a comparison is indeed very high praise. So I came to Riggs' memoir with high expectations. I'd even read somewhere that Riggs' widower and Kalanithi's widow went on a dual promotional book tour together. And so, while reading the early portions of the book, I felt good about having decided to read it. However, about halfway through the book, something about it began not to sit well with me and I gradually began to lose interest in reading it anymore. This was puzzling to me at first; primarily because of the overwhelmingly positive press the book continues to receive and also because I so wanted to deeply appreciate a book written by a published poet who quotes extensively from her distant relative Ralph Waldo Emerson and Montaigne. On top of which, there are some passages in the book that impressed me initially, at least, as imaginatively poetic. I should also say I am a big devote of reading memoirs like When Breath Becomes Air; that is, memoirs written by people with truly extraordinary stories to tell, and which are told in compelling ways. Other such memoirs that I believe fall in that category are Why I Left Goldman Sachs , Dying to Be Me , Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife , and Do the KIND Thing: Think Boundlessly, Work Purposefully, Live Passionately . Where Riggs' memoir differs from these books, I find, is that while it's truly heartbreaking that Riggs was diagnosed with cancer and she deserves some credit for writing an articulate memoir while surely suffering the pain of her cancer and the side effects of her chemotherapy; what I realized is that the life Riggs lived before and after her cancer diagnosis was glaringly average and quotidian. For example, she spends one passage contemplating whether she should splurge her and her husband's money on an expensive, new sofa; Riggs admits that she and her husband had never previously bought a new sofa during their marriage. Moreover, I question why her distant kinship with Emerson would have, in and of itself, warranted her extensively quoting him throughout the book. (Not surprisingly, the title of the book is taken from a passage by Emerson.) I was also puzzled why Riggs quotes repeatedly from Montaigne. Her quoting of Emerson and Montaigne certainly gives her book a veneer of high literary cache. Finally, what really ruined this book for me is that, in my final analysis, Riggs failed to write compellingly enough about her otherwise routine life.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Liza Fireman

    Nina Riggs at the age of 38 was diagnosed with a breast cancer, the treatment it for became metastatic and incurable. That was only a few months only after her mother died from cancer. This book is so so sad, and so amazing. And so sad. When Breath Becomes Air gave a different perspective, this one is a lot more personal, a lot more touching, and is even better written than When Breath Becomes Air. I recommend to read both. “Dying isn’t the end of the world,” my mother liked to joke after she was Nina Riggs at the age of 38 was diagnosed with a breast cancer, the treatment it for became metastatic and incurable. That was only a few months only after her mother died from cancer. This book is so so sad, and so amazing. And so sad. When Breath Becomes Air gave a different perspective, this one is a lot more personal, a lot more touching, and is even better written than When Breath Becomes Air. I recommend to read both. “Dying isn’t the end of the world,” my mother liked to joke after she was diagnosed as terminal. Nina is an amazing person, and she tells about the diagnose, getting the news and absorbing them, and coping with the illness and the treatment, with having a family, little children, and a husband that are in the midst of all of this. She is talking about her fears, her children fears and her support. I’m terrified. I’m fine. The world is changed and exactly as before. “Can you not do that anymore, Mom?” says Freddy. “It’s scaring me.” Bright spot is the exact opposite of anything good or bright. Bright spot is darkness, bright spot is cancer. The term “bright spot” takes on a whole new meaning, more like the opposite of silver lining: danger, bone pain, progression. More radiation. More pain medicine. More tests. Strange topsy-turvy cancer stuff: With scans, you long for a darkened screen, a blacked-out skeletal city, a subdivision of foreclosed bones. It is a story about One small spot, that became two tumors that are shaped like a dumbbell, the stupid way for cancer to behave, but the cancer got smarter, and started getting everywhere, and got to stage four, and Nina's spine. We’ve seen new tumors light up in my spine, my hips, my shoulder. I have to give this book 5 stars, and Nina a million. Very sad, very real, impossible to digest.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    I won this memoir from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. This memoir was written by Nina Riggs, who like many other members of her family, contracted cancer. This memoir is written over the four stages of her disease which started as breast cancer, expanded to spinal lesions and ultimately lung. She died on February 23, 2017. The memoir is written similar to the form of a diary. Nina takes the reader on the journey of her mother's death from cancer, her marriage to John Dube I won this memoir from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. This memoir was written by Nina Riggs, who like many other members of her family, contracted cancer. This memoir is written over the four stages of her disease which started as breast cancer, expanded to spinal lesions and ultimately lung. She died on February 23, 2017. The memoir is written similar to the form of a diary. Nina takes the reader on the journey of her mother's death from cancer, her marriage to John Duberstein and the time they lived in Paris, the births and lives of their young sons Benny and Freddy, hanging out with her friends, her friend Ginny contracting cancer, philiosphical thoughts Nina has on life, death, and leaving others behind, thoughts on not sharing future moments with loved ones, have the family dog euthanized on the family patio where one year prior they had sat after the death of Nina's mother. Nina shared her fears and loneliness. She did not focus the memoir obsessively on the illness, treatments, etc. The memoir has deep philosophical questions and moments of tenderness and levity. I loved when Ginny wanted to keep an email account open whereby she would pre-write future messages to her children and have them sent to her children as they were going through dating, sexual experimentation, etc. Nina loved life and her family. Life is a cycle and circle. Seize and live every moment you have. Cherish those around you. One can never predict when the big C will strike someone close to you. I wish John, Benny, and Freddy the very best life can offer and to know Nina was a shining star in their lives.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lori Sommerfelt

    I won a Goodreads Giveaway for this book and was privileged to receive an advance copy. This is certainly not a book I would typically pick off of a shelf, but I am so glad I read it. I have struggled with a paralyzing fear of mortality since I was a child, and was concerned that this book would be either too sappy or too upsetting. Instead, it was heart-wrenchingly honest, poignant, delightfully clever, and simply beautiful. This is a book that will stay with me long after it is placed on my "c I won a Goodreads Giveaway for this book and was privileged to receive an advance copy. This is certainly not a book I would typically pick off of a shelf, but I am so glad I read it. I have struggled with a paralyzing fear of mortality since I was a child, and was concerned that this book would be either too sappy or too upsetting. Instead, it was heart-wrenchingly honest, poignant, delightfully clever, and simply beautiful. This is a book that will stay with me long after it is placed on my "completed" shelf.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    (ARC received for review by NetGalley) Nina was thirty-seven when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it sucked. A lot. Her sons were six and eight. That's how I met her: our older sons got to be friends when they were in the same class at school. She was a totally awesome person- instantly easy to talk to, with great stories and quippy comebacks. It's not a surprise that reading her words feels an awful lot like talking to her. What is a surprise, though, is what amazing things she can do (ARC received for review by NetGalley) Nina was thirty-seven when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it sucked. A lot. Her sons were six and eight. That's how I met her: our older sons got to be friends when they were in the same class at school. She was a totally awesome person- instantly easy to talk to, with great stories and quippy comebacks. It's not a surprise that reading her words feels an awful lot like talking to her. What is a surprise, though, is what amazing things she can do with words. After her diagnosis, as a writer, she began processing the information in a way that she knew... by writing. Her blog entries were beautiful, morbid, funny, and heartrending, all at the same time. I just can't wrap my brain around the fact that Nina had access to the exact same vocabulary I have, but that she was able to do so much more with it that I could ever do. In one scene in her book, she's talking to her son Freddy after his hospital stay (diabetes diagnosis) and he says he sometimes misses the hospital so much he could cry. She writes, "'The hospital. The beeping machines. The sallow 3 a.m. light of the hallway. The narrow vinyl couch and paper sheet... that hospital?' 'I loved playing those video games the whole time,' he said. 'And remember how you wold climb in the bed and cuddle me at night and we would just talk?' Oh. That hospital." Two completely different places in one place. I remember reading the blog entry where she wrote about that exchange, creating two completely different moods and feelings about the same place, and just being amazed. And this whole book is full of similarly rich, beautiful writing. I truly am finding myself wanting to just quote passages in this review. Reading this book feels a lot different than reading other memoirs about disease and dying. This doesn't feel like Nina is on a stage, pontificating from behind a podium about what she's learned from her experience. She also doesn't write like she's already died and wants to send back postcards of light. She writes like she's going through it. And it's scary. And really hard. And sometimes it's funny. And sometimes it's not. But you're right there with her, sitting on the back deck with a cold beer, just listening to her stories about her experiences. Dying is something that happens to everyone. But I couldn't think of a book that treated it that way until I read this. She really looks right at the scary stuff, and even when it's still scary, makes it okay to laugh through the tears. There's an exchange she has with her husband about the phrase, "It's your funeral," when faced with a bad decision, as well as her cousin Bonnie's response when she finally says, "So it turns out I'm kind of dying," that just make this book so three-dimensional and honest and just incredible. Yeah, I cried a lot. Read it with a box of Kleenex. But do read it. And then realize how much it totally sucks at the end when you can't text her and say, "Damn, Nina, that was a REALLY good book."

  28. 5 out of 5

    Milli (MiracleMilliReads)

    A Beautifully written memoir by Nina Riggs about her journey through life when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. This book is cry worthy and amazingly brought out to teach so many lessons. The way she appreciated life knowing she can be gone anytime soon. Nina Riggs speaks about her four stages of cancer. It started off as breast cancer, expanded to spinal lesions, and then went to her lungs. Not only does she speak for herself, but speaks about her mothers death because she had cancer as we A Beautifully written memoir by Nina Riggs about her journey through life when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. This book is cry worthy and amazingly brought out to teach so many lessons. The way she appreciated life knowing she can be gone anytime soon. Nina Riggs speaks about her four stages of cancer. It started off as breast cancer, expanded to spinal lesions, and then went to her lungs. Not only does she speak for herself, but speaks about her mothers death because she had cancer as well. Also, her wonderful marriage to her husband John and her beautiful sons Benny and Freddy. She wrote about her fears, but didn't really evolve on her condition which made me love this book more. Nina Riggs died on February 23, 2017 and she appreciated her time around those she loved. This book was written like if it were her own diary and it made me feel really connected to her. A heart breaking story, but with a lesson on appreciation and living life while you still can.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marika

    Nina Riggs began her blog Suspicious Country (which morphed into this book) after being dx with breast cancer at age 37. Beautifully written, much like poetry, but with a narrative that no one wants to experience. She is very present in the moment, appreciating life even during the scariest of moments. Nina is a descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and it comes through in this book. How to live in the present with a death sentence looming over oneself? How to live each day, not worried about tomor Nina Riggs began her blog Suspicious Country (which morphed into this book) after being dx with breast cancer at age 37. Beautifully written, much like poetry, but with a narrative that no one wants to experience. She is very present in the moment, appreciating life even during the scariest of moments. Nina is a descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and it comes through in this book. How to live in the present with a death sentence looming over oneself? How to live each day, not worried about tomorrow, but accepting what is. Much like When Breathe Becomes Air, this is a moving, thoughtful book on dying, but more importantly, how to live while one still can. The Motto of her blog sums of her journey. "This Place is Strange, Scary and Sometimes Stunning." I read an advance copy and was not compensated.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emma Townshend

    I've read this, but I'm not rating it, because rating a book someone wrote while they were dying just feels intensely weird. It is a highly emotional book to read, because I couldn't help picturing how Rigg's children would feel as they grew up, longing for their lovely mum, and having these amazing words to read that would almost make them miss her more. A very beautiful book, although in many ways just totally depressing because Reader, She Dies. The world doesn't get made a better place, two I've read this, but I'm not rating it, because rating a book someone wrote while they were dying just feels intensely weird. It is a highly emotional book to read, because I couldn't help picturing how Rigg's children would feel as they grew up, longing for their lovely mum, and having these amazing words to read that would almost make them miss her more. A very beautiful book, although in many ways just totally depressing because Reader, She Dies. The world doesn't get made a better place, two great kids lose their mum, etc. There's no silver lining. And yet she was clearly a wonderful person who made her world a better place while she was in it. I'd say heartbreaking, except how dare I talk about MY feelings about the book when someone actually died? etc. V hard to know what to write, but I do recommend it.

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