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Survival Lessons Hardcover – October 1, 2013
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Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
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“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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
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?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I received this book for my daughter who was going through the trauma of breast cancer at a young age of 32. Read morePublished 26 days ago by Edward F. Powers
Take an hour and read this book. It is my modern "Gifts from the Sea", it joins "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" as a beacon, a solace, a revelation, a comfort. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kady
I absolutely love Alice Hoffman's writing. So after reading several of her fabulous books, I wanted more! This is not a rehash of other cancer books. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Susan
This is a quick, positive little read that convinced me that we really are fighting our own battles in this crazy world and we need to be a little easier on others and mainly... Read morePublished 2 months ago by One Who Wants A Better Lifestyle
Alice Hoffman has to be one of my most favorite authors! Read all her books and am anxiously awaiting for her next book.Published 3 months ago by PMS
Poetic, beautiful, and well written. This book is a short read and an abundance of good advice. It's rawness and simplicity and straightforwadness made it a must read.Published 3 months ago by Alyssa
If you have a supportive network, this is a good book. Perhaps we all need to write our own recovery.Published 4 months ago by Sharon Phillips
A wonderful book about a women that survived not only breast cancer, but life. Alice Hoffman continues to inspire me to read and write. Read morePublished 4 months ago by C&M&N Oliver