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Publisher's Summary

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

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

©2017 Nina Riggs (P)2017 Simon & Schuster Audio

Critic Reviews

“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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Awe inspiring legacy of A Brave Young Woman.

Nina Riggs was an intelligent woman who was living her life just the way that we all do, one day at a time. This was one 'smart cookie' who managed to juggle her family, friends and career. However at no time does she try to kid us that she was even close to perfect. It is more than apparent that she is blessed with an exceptional sense of humor and as you dig deeper into her book. Through the last two years of her life she really needed that sense of humor.

It will make you smile, perhaps giggle. In fact I laughed out loud at a couple of Nina's observations. Sadly I am sure that much of her suffering will make you cry. On the upside I think that it will also make you grateful for what you have.

Beautifully and compassionately narrated by Cassandra Campbell and Kirby Heyborne.

I am so grateful to the Riggs family for publishing this after Nina's passing as I really feel that it is Nina's gift to the world and needed to be heard.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • KarenLee
  • Beaufort, SC United States
  • 06-14-17

Bright Memoir

Like Kalanithi's When Breath Becomes Air, Gawande's Being Mortal, and Nuland's How We Die this is a must read for everyone who is interested in life and death. Nina faces her journey without self-pity determined to love the bad days not just the good. I am currently having my own experience with breast cancer so it particularly touched me how Nina was able to write so brilliantly and nakedly about facing her death.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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A heartfelt view of LIVING in the midst of DYING..

Any additional comments?

I am thrilled to read another book on "end of life" issues, by a young, very strong author, Nina Riggs. Halfway through the book, I realized that she lives in my hometown, Greensboro NC. Full of courage and laughter....a must read.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Heartbreaking and lyrical

A poignant and gorgeously written memoir from a spirited and loving young wife, mother and writer. The portrait of the marriage is particularly sweet .

You are struck repeatedly by her bravery and their awful luck. Be at peace now, Nina.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Robin
  • LORIENT, France
  • 07-26-17

The performance not great

I would have enjoyed this more on the page
Her voice is too precious, French pronunciation abominable

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Carolyn
  • Middletown, CT, USA
  • 06-27-17

Touching and well written

A lovely memoir, well performed and well written. It's very poignant to realize it has been less than six months since she died but this is a great tribute to her spirit. I felt like I made a new, great, friend in the hours I listened to this production

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Poetically Beautiful. Inspiring Book!

I couldn't put down this book. Nina was obviously a gifted writer & a very loving person. Best wishes to her very special family.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • KL100
  • Lakeland, FL United States
  • 11-01-17

Wonderful

This is a beautiful and moving account of a young woman’s life and death with cancer. It is touching but also very real. Cassandra Campbell is an outstanding narrator and I will search for more books narrated by her, she is that good.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

wow, she wrote my life.

for all my metastatic sister's, it can be difficult to read, but she is telling our story

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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utterly magnificent, totally heartbreaking

What made the experience of listening to The Bright Hour the most enjoyable?

Cassandra Campbell is the perfect narrator for this memoir, sensitively reading the words of Nina Riggs, poet, mother, wife, imbuing the journey from diagnosis to decline with exquisite nuances of voice that give profound poignancy to Nina's struggle to let go of this life in the face of her enormous love for her family. .

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Bright Hour?

"I am sorry, I am sorry, I am sorry for what I am about to do to you" as Nina Riggs contemplates leaving her two young sons motherless.

What does Cassandra Campbell and Kirby Heyborne bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

See above. I picked this book not knowing much about it, but having complete faith in Ms.. Campbell, and was not disappointed.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

absolutely, although I had to titrate because it is so deeply moving.

Any additional comments?

Listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful