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Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal Paperback – August 1, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade; 1ST edition (August 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573226106
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573226103
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time," writes Rachel Naomi Remen in her introduction to Kitchen Table Wisdom. "It is the way wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us live a life worth remembering." Remen, a physician, therapist, professor of medicine, and long-term survivor of chronic illness, is also a down-home storyteller. Reading this collection of real-life parables feels like a late-night kitchen session with a best friend, munching on leftovers while listening to the good-as-gossip stories of everyday heroes and archetype villains. Every story guides us like a life compass, showing us what's good and lasting about ourselves as well as humanity. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Remen is one of a growing number of physicians exploring the spiritual dimension of the healing arts. "Coherent, elegant, mysterious, aesthetic," she writes. "When I first earned my degree in medicine I would not have described life in this way. But I was not on intimate terms with life then." Now Remen is awed by the vitality of the life force, which she witnesses through her work counseling cancer patients and their doctors at Commonweal, a cancer-help center in California, and through her keen eye for the depths of ordinary people. Remen tells of those who, having fallen ill, discovered previously untapped wells of fortitude and who, ironically, gained a peace of mind they had never known when well. She often turns common wisdom on its head. Discussing the meaning of suffering, she cites one woman who mourned the loss of her chest pains after corrective surgery. These pains had come whenever she had compromised her integrity; now her "inner advisor" was gone. Some of the most poignant stories here are of doctors whose professional code rejects overt displays of emotion. Both patients and doctors can come to care profoundly for one another, Remen believes. A heartfelt call for change as well as a display of compassionate and courageous thinking, this meditation will speak especially to those whose lives have been touched by illness. BOMC and One Spirit alternate selections; first serial rights to Family Circle and New Age Journal.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., has been counseling those with chronic and terminal illness for more than twenty years. She is co-founder and medical director of the Commonweal Cancer Help Program in Bolinas, California and is currently clinical professor of family and community medicine at the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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This is the second time I read the book.
Mary Alice Do
Dr. Remen has taught me that we all have the capacity to make our life a blessing and she is truly a blessing to all that read her words.
Nadine Levin
This is a book I will be enthusiastically recommending to my patients, friends, and colleagues.
rubi2sda@yahoo.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Nadine Levin on November 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
Several friends had told me about Kitchen Table Wisdom over the years, and I just put off purchasing it. Then while recovering in the hospital from surgery, the chaplin suggested I read it. I read it during my recovery and have not stopped reading it since. There are so many lessons in the book, and Dr. Remen's selection of stories and writing style present an education on how to be human and to develop a deeper understanding of the humanity each one of us posseses. I look at my life, and those around me in a different way since I read the book. Dr. Remen has taught me that we all have the capacity to make our life a blessing and she is truly a blessing to all that read her words.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By doktordrew on March 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
It's difficult to believe Remen is trained as a hard-nose physician. The book is eloquent and very touching. Remen shares her stories with simple words and ideas, and ends up creating a profound effect. Reading this book is like sharing in the rich tradition of storytelling at its best. Indeed, the read is passive, like the stories are being orally conveyed by a soft-spoken sage. Remen does not preach nor does she try to manipulate emotions from the reader. It does not carry the pretentiousness of a "Chicken Soup..." publication. The careful reader will see that Remen still struggles with the paradoxical world and emotional taffy-pull of a Philosophy-Undergraduate-Turned-Physician. In fact, the book seems therapeutic for Remen in the middle of her own quest to self-discovery. I highly recommend you share in Remen's quest, it will offer you momentary, security-blanket-style warmth. As a prospective medical student, I found the book helpful in shaping my own perspective about healing and health care, but most importantly found it to be a springboard in developing myself as a compassionate caregiver. Kudos, Ms. Remen!
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By W. Rashed on November 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
This beautiful, touching and life- altering book is without doubt one of the best books I've read. Dr.Remen captured my mind, heart and soul from the very first page. The stories she tells about herself, her patients, her family and friends are told with amazing honesty, beauty and grace. This book is about Life with all its different facets, phases and seasons. As a physician, reading this book has made a lot of impact on how I view my role and how I communicate with my patients. I now think of myself not as a "doctor" but as a healer, and know that there is much more to my work than diagnosing diseases and prescribing medicines. I read this book many times, and every time I laugh and I cry and I am inspired and touched. This book is truly one of a kind; it is worth a million stars!!
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Niki Collins-queen, Author VINE VOICE on November 3, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rachel Naomi Remen fittingly dedicated her extraordinary book "Kitchen Table Wisdom" to "everyone who has never told their story." Remen, a physician and counselor, says stories "heal when they are more about who we are, not what we have done. About what we have faced to build what we have, what we have drawn upon and risked to do, what we have felt, thought, feared and discovered through the events of our lives." And about where the love that has sustained us comes from.

Remen shows through her own story living with Crohn's disease how suffering and helplessness helped her to connect more deeply with others and live with an open heart. Her illness included being in a coma after a massive bleed in her mid teens, having her large intestine surgically removed and having to wear an ileostomy, and years of intensive therapy with toxic drugs. She says her experience taught her that at the heart of intimacy is vulnerability. When we see a matching vulnerability in another we know we will not be judged. That we are all more than we know and that wholeness is never lost, it is only forgotten.

Her inspiring stories illustrate that the purpose in life is to grow in wisdom and love. How perfection is a booby prize. What is needed is simply to be human. How we sometimes trade wholeness for approval from others. How the way we see another may easily become the way in which we see ourselves. How "broken" is only a stage in a process. How the healing of suffering is compassion not expertise. How the healing of our woundedness lies in reclaiming our capacity to heal others through touch, forgiveness and acceptance. That anger only becomes a problem when we become wedded to it. How fear of losing things we possess end up possessing us.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl Churchill on December 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
I like to read mostly just before bed, so for this nightowl I am usually reading pretty late after midnight. Sometimes I find a book I just can't put down, I like those kind. Since it is the beginning of a new year according to western calendar anyway, I find the book by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. Kitchen Table Wisdom - Stories that Heal very appropriate for this time of year. I must say the title was the hooker but as I get more into the book, I see it is really much, much deeper than any talk that has ever gone on around my kitchen table. The chapters are rather short & sweet with stories of humanity & love, growing experiences, healing & yes even death experiences all of which end in a message for the reader to ponder on. I don't mind writing in books I buy, you know good spots where I want to come back to later or that I want to remember, & this book is turning out to be filled with those pencil marks! When the author herself makes a personal discovery regarding her life & her soulful purpose, she states "Although I could be analytical & pragmatic, by nature I was an intuitive, even a mystic. I was my grandfather's granddaughter, I had remembered & I was going home. .." It was at this point the author moved from her traditional medical career, into the mind/body health field & we are grateful for her inspiration.
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