Open in the App Open in the App Open in the App
Get the key ideas from

The Bright Hour

A Memoir of Living and Dying

By Nina Riggs
15-minute read
Audio available
The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs

The Bright Hour (2018) was written by Nina Riggs after she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 37. As her memoir, it is a reflection on the last years of her life, from her diagnosis until her untimely death in 2017, and explores how meaning and purpose can be found even when life is slipping away.

  • Cancer patients
  • People with loved ones battling cancer
  • Doctors and medical professionals

Nina Riggs was an American writer and poet. Born in California, she earned a master’s degree in poetry at the University of North Carolina and later published a volume of poetry titled Lucky, Lucky, in 2009. Riggs finished her memoir about living with metastatic breast cancer shortly before her death in 2017 at the age of 39. She left behind her husband and two sons, whom she lived with in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Go Premium and get the best of Blinkist

Upgrade to Premium now and get unlimited access to the Blinkist library. Read or listen to key insights from the world’s best nonfiction.

Upgrade to Premium

What is Blinkist?

The Blinkist app gives you the key ideas from a bestselling nonfiction book in just 15 minutes. Available in bitesize text and audio, the app makes it easier than ever to find time to read.

Discover
3,000+ top
nonfiction titles

Get unlimited access to the most important ideas in business, investing, marketing, psychology, politics, and more. Stay ahead of the curve with recommended reading lists curated by experts.

Join Blinkist to get the key ideas from

The Bright Hour

A Memoir of Living and Dying

By Nina Riggs
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs
Synopsis

The Bright Hour (2018) was written by Nina Riggs after she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 37. As her memoir, it is a reflection on the last years of her life, from her diagnosis until her untimely death in 2017, and explores how meaning and purpose can be found even when life is slipping away.

Key idea 1 of 9

Cancer had already played a significant role in the author's family history, so she had coping mechanisms to fall back on.

There are some phone calls that you hope never to get. At the age of 37, Nina Riggs received one of them. It was her oncologist, calling to inform her that she had breast cancer.

The news was devastating, as any cancer diagnosis would have been, but it didn’t come as a complete surprise.

Cancer had already played a significant role in Riggs’s family. This was revealed to its full extent when she sat down with a genetic counselor to look at her family tree.

Just a few years earlier, her mother had been diagnosed with cancer and was coming to the end of her fight against the disease. Both of her mother’s parents had suffered from some form of cancer in their lifetimes, and her mother’s sister had an early melanoma – cancerous cells that haven’t spread beyond the first layers of skin.

What was even more surprising, however, was that her grandfather had also had breast cancer, a rarity in men. On the paternal side, a great-aunt and an aunt had also had breast cancer.

Only 11 percent of cancer diagnoses can be linked with certainty to genetic causes, but the prevalence of cancer in Riggs’s family definitely suggested that genetics were somehow at play.

Still grappling with the diagnosis, Riggs searched for consolation in philosophy, as her mother had done after her own diagnosis. Her mother had read works by sixteenth-century French philosopher Michel de Montaigne, and so she, too, dug out her tattered copy of his essays.

Montaigne was well acquainted with death. His brother died young, at 23; five of his daughters died in the years that followed; and his best friend fell victim to the plague.

Yet despite suffering these losses, Montaigne believed you should open yourself to death and accept its inevitability. Thus, he always left the door to his estate buildings unlocked, though bandits and looters were known to roam the countryside. His attitude toward death, and the way in which he chose to live his life, were great consolations to Riggs.

Key ideas in this title

No time to
read?

Pssst. Sign up to your secret to success: key ideas from top nonfiction in just 15 minutes.
Created with Sketch.