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Survival Lessons Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-1616203146 ISBN-10: 1616203145 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; 1 edition (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616203145
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616203146
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 4.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Her own longing for a guidebook when she was confronted by loss and cancer inspired Hoffman, the best-selling author of 21 imaginative and compassionate novels, to write her first nonfiction title. While under stress, she “needed to know how people survived trauma” and to be reminded of “the beauty of life.” Writing with sparkling directness, warmth, humor, and long-steeped wisdom, Hoffman has created a companionable and genuinely useful book for times of crisis. Small, intimate, and lovely, Survival Lessons is illustrated by Hoffman’s photographs and sweetened with recipes to support one of her key guidelines, savor life. Opening her harrowing experiences to readers, Hoffman also remembers her mentors, from Anne Frank to her grandmother (“the person I could always depend on, as funny as she was tough”) to the writing teacher who helped her become a published writer. Hoffman offers hilarious advice for coping with difficult people, recommends watching old movies and reading “the greats,” and sings out, “Don’t hold back!” “Live right now!” Hoffman’s storytelling artistry enlivens each intimate, thoughtfully distilled, charming, and nurturing lesson in living. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Best-selling Hoffman’s candid, upbeat, and graceful guide to coping with trauma will attract loyal fans and all readers looking for sustaining advice. --Donna Seaman

Review

“In this gem of a book, Alice Hoffman acknowledges the sorrows of life, while reminding us of its joys. Survival Lessons is filled with love, insight, and lots of practical advice--including a crazy-good brownie recipe. I'll be sharing this book widely, but keeping one copy permanently on my nightstand for all the times I'll need its wisdom and warmth.” —Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club

“Full of smart intentions and kind reminders . . . Uplifting advice we’ll gladly take.” Better Homes & Gardens

“Very warm, humble, sometimes funny, infused with a spirit of optimism.” The Jewish Week

“The book is not about her breast cancer per se but about making choices (each chapter is titled “Choose…”) that will improve readers’ lives and relationships and remind them 'of the beauty of life.' More than cancer sufferers will be glad they picked up this tiny gem.” —Library Journal

“It may be short, but it's powerful. An absolutely beautiful book.” —Sue Monk Kidd

“Heartening.” Kirkus Reviews

“Writing with sparkling directness, warmth, humor, and long-steeped wisdom, Hoffman has created a companionable and genuinely useful book for times of crisis. Small, intimate, and lovely . . . Hoffman’s storytelling artistry enlivens each intimate, thoughtfully distilled, charming, and nurturing lesson in living.” Booklist

(Review quotes)

More About the Author

Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently lives in Boston and New York.

Hoffman's first novel, Property Of, was written at the age of twenty-one, while she was studying at Stanford, and published shortly thereafter by Farrar Straus and Giroux. She credits her mentor, professor and writer Albert J. Guerard, and his wife, the writer Maclin Bocock Guerard, for helping her to publish her first short story in the magazine Fiction. Editor Ted Solotaroff then contacted her to ask if she had a novel, at which point she quickly began to write what was to become Property Of, a section of which was published in Mr. Solotaroff's magazine, American Review.

Since that remarkable beginning, Alice Hoffman has become one of our most distinguished novelists. She has published a total of eighteen novels, two books of short fiction, and eight books for children and young adults. Her novel, Here on Earth, an Oprah Book Club choice, was a modern reworking of some of the themes of Emily Bronte's masterpiece Wuthering Heights. Practical Magic was made into a Warner film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Her novel, At Risk, which concerns a family dealing with AIDS, can be found on the reading lists of many universities, colleges and secondary schools. Her advance from Local Girls, a collection of inter-related fictions about love and loss on Long Island, was donated to help create the Hoffman (Women's Cancer) Center at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA. Blackbird House is a book of stories centering around an old farm on Cape Cod. Hoffman's recent books include Aquamarine and Indigo, novels for pre-teens, and The New York Times bestsellers The River King, Blue Diary, The Probable Future, and The Ice Queen. Green Angel, a post-apocalyptic fairy tale about loss and love, was published by Scholastic and The Foretelling, a book about an Amazon girl in the Bronze Age, was published by Little Brown. In 2007 Little Brown published the teen novel Incantation, a story about hidden Jews during the Spanish Inquisition, which Publishers Weekly has chosen as one of the best books of the year. In January 2007, Skylight Confessions, a novel about one family's secret history, was released on the 30th anniversary of the publication of Her first novel. Her most recent novel is The Story Sisters (2009), published by Shaye Areheart Books.

Hoffman's work has been published in more than twenty translations and more than one hundred foreign editions. Her novels have received mention as notable books of the year by The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, Library Journal, and People Magazine. She has also worked as a screenwriter and is the author of the original screenplay "Independence Day" a film starring Kathleen Quinlan and Diane Wiest. Her short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe Magazine, Kenyon Review, Redbook, Architectural Digest, Gourmet, Self, and other magazines. Her teen novel Aquamarine was recently made into a film starring Emma Roberts.

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Customer Reviews

Alice Hoffman's writing is like reading poetry.
Mary Chrapliwy
Just received this little book today and from the moment I opened it at the very first sentence, I was hooked.
Mother Crone
We all know of a friend, family member, neighbor or co-worker who would benefit from reading this book.
Diane Patterson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Story Circle Book Reviews on November 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
You may think you know who Alice Hoffman is. You've been reading her novels for years, from Practical Magic to The Dovekeepers. She writes women's literary fiction, right? After 23 such novels, it seems like a fair assumption. But did you know she's a popular young adult author as well? Or that she penned a nonfiction book, a memoir? Until recently, I didn't either, and I'm glad to have discovered some new Alice Hoffman titles to add to my reading list.

Hoffman's latest book is called Survival Lessons, and it's a heartfelt entry into the world of nonfiction, a personal journey made universal. Fifteen years ago, Hoffman received a breast cancer diagnosis that sent her reeling. Treatment and recovery proved completely foreign landscapes, with few familiar landmarks to direct her way. Hoffman wanted a guidebook, but found none. Now, all these years later, she has written the very book she wished for.

"There is a very thin line that separates readers and writers," writes Hoffman in her introduction. "You make a leap over that line when there's a book you want to read and you can't find it and you have to write it yourself."

The result is not a typical memoir, and in fact contains surprisingly few glimpses into Hoffman's actual ordeal. Instead, it's more of an optimistic instruction manual explaining how to take care of yourself when you're dealing with a serious illness, or any traumatic experience.

Hoffman's advice seems simple on the surface. Choose your heroes, she says. Eat chocolate. Only answer the phone when you want to. Read more closely, though, and you'll see the unique interpersonal observations you've come to expect from Hoffman.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mother Crone on September 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just received this little book today and from the moment I opened it at the very first sentence, I was hooked. Alice Hoffman is a best selling novelist but she is also a cancer survivor and this little gem is her story. She writes exactly what's in my heart...it's like we're joined at the waist, even in her admiration of Anne Frank. If you've walked "through the fire' and survived, this little book is for you.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen Pooler on November 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
It’s true. Good things really do come in small packages. Best selling novelist Alice Hoffman packs a lot of practical wisdom about life and surviving breast cancer in this eighty-three page guidebook.

In a voice that stems from the heart of a woman who has survived breast cancer, we glean page after page of trustworthy, day-to-day tips for living a full life. Filled with simple, practical lessons, she draws us into her human experience and helps us connect to our own.

I found myself immersed in her story and connecting on many levels—as a woman, a cancer survivor, a wife, a mother, a friend, a human being. Interspersed throughout the book are photos and poems that highlight her messages of reclaiming your life and enjoying its simple pleasures. She even pays forward gifts her family and friends have given her—a recipe for brownies, a pattern for a knit cap.

Each section has simple, yet captivating title. Here’s an excerpt under Choose to Tell Your Own Story (page 66):

“When people ask you about your terrible year, the first thing that will come to mind is the grin on your son’s face on the rollercoaster and how fast your daughter ran on the beach. She was almost flying. She was the most beautiful thing on earth”

Underlying each message is the idea that life is precious and we need to stop and appreciate its beauty every day. One does not need to have cancer or a life threatening illness to appreciate these words.

The gentle reminders Alice offers in this little book are a gift to all of us.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Bea Young-Smith on September 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love alice Hoffman's novels so I was curious about this book. Being a 3 year cancer survivor myself I purchased this book and was not disappointed! Lovely advice and inspiring stories abound in this treasury of how cancer patients not only survive but thrive. I have purchased two more copies for my friends. I highly recommend this book!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mary Chrapliwy VINE VOICE on November 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was short, but mighty. It was beautifully written, as all Alice Hoffman's books are, and it touched me so deeply that it made me cry.

Alice Hoffman's writing is like reading poetry. She uses metaphor and simile just enough to give more weight and beauty to her words. I have enjoyed numerous works of Hoffman's fiction, so when I had the opportunity to read this book, I was delighted. This book was a little under 100 pages. Don't let the short length scare you away, the sparse pages are brimming with wisdom.

This has been a tough year for my family and, though none of us has had the dreaded diagnosis of breast cancer, we have had some very difficult times. I was able to relate to many things Hoffman said in this book and found such inspiration and joy in the pages, that I shared the experience with friends. This is a magical book that lit the flame of hope in my heart.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Alice Hoffman's "Survival Lessons" is a collection of brief essays in which the celebrated author discusses how she has successfully coped with various types of adversity, including a serious illness (she is a breast cancer survivor). She admits to such feel-good strategies as, on occasion, indulging hersef in unhealthful foods and weepy old movies. In addition, she tries to let go of long-held grudges and pointless guilt; regularly enjoys the beauty of a garden, a child's smile, or a piece of beloved music; chooses her friends carefully; and emulates people who "don't give up, even when the going gets rough, even when they want to." One of her heroes is her Russian-born grandmother, Lillie, who lost both a husband and child, traveled to the United States, lived in a Lower East Side tenement, worked tirelessly in a shop on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, and "volunteered at an old-age home into her eighties."

Hoffman's words of wisdom are far from unique. Many men and women, some famous and others less well-known, suggest ways to spend time more productively. One recent example is "The Gift of Adversity," by psychiatrist Norman E. Rosenthal, who offers lessons that he learned from his childhood in South Africa, his long career as a respected physician, and his role as a husband and father.

"Survival Lessons" is attractively bound and has lovely and evocative illustrations. Hoffman touches us with heartfelt guidance that should provide hope, consolation, and encouragement to men and women facing formidable challenges. Since "Survival Lessons" is concise (under one hundred pages) and not inexpensive, who would be its ideal audience?
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