The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying


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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Title:The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying
Edition Language:English
Format Type:PDF | Epub | Mobi | iBook
4.5 of 5 stars (Votes: 1046)

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    The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying Reviews

  • 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....

  • 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 rea...

  • Elyse

    “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 ...

  • Rebecca Foster

    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, ...

  • 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...

  • 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 dy...

  • 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 Lu...

  • Text Publishing

    ‘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...

  • Kaytee Bole

    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 desc...

  • Renee (

    You can find all my reviews at www.itsbooktalk.comI 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 absolu...