The Bright Hour
A Memoir of Living and Dying
This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.
A New York Times Bestseller: ‘You can read a multitude of books about how to die, but Riggs, a dying woman, will show you how to live.’
Most Anticipated Summer Reading Selection by * The Washington Post * Glamour * The Seattle Times * Real Simple * The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
In 2015 poet and writer Nina Riggs was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it metastasised later that year. She was thirty-eight years old, married to the love of her life and the mother of two small boys; her mother had died only a few months earlier from multiple myeloma.
The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying is Nina’s intimate, unflinching account of ‘living with death in the room’. She tells her story in a series of absurd, poignant and often hilarious vignettes drawn from a life that has ‘no real future or arc left to it, yet still goes on as if it does’.
This unforgettable 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.
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 appeared in the Washington Post and the New York Times. She lived with her husband and sons and dogs in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Starred reviews from * Kirkus Reviews * Publishers Weekly * Library Journal *
REVIEWS FOR THE BRIGHT HOUR BY NINA RIGGS
‘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
‘Stunning…heartrending…this year’s When Breath Becomes Air.’ The Washington Post
‘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, author of When Breath Becomes Air
“Beautiful and haunting.” Matt McCarthy, USA Today
“Deeply affecting…simultaneously heartbreaking and funny.” People, (Book of the Week)
“Vivid, immediate.” Laura Collins-Hughes, The Boston Globe
‘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
‘A luminous, heartbreaking symphony of wit, wisdom, pain, parenting and perseverance against insurmountable odds.’ Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
‘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
‘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.’ Best New Books, Entertainment Weekly
‘Touching and wickedly funny.’ Glamour
‘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
‘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
‘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.’ Best New Books to Read This Summer, Reader’s Digest [UK]
‘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]
‘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
‘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
‘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
‘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
Impossible to put down, impossible to forget
I read this book over 2 days while my baby nurse and slept on me- it was impossible to put down. Spending a lot of the book crying while I read, it’s emotional but also inspiring. Beautiful read.