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Editorial Reviews

At the age of 37, Jill Bolte Taylor had reaped the benefits of a life passionately devoted to neuroscience. Motivated by her brother's struggle with Schizophrenia, Taylor often traveled to advocate for the donation of brains to science; and her work had paid off. She was successful, independent, and self-sufficient. So when she woke up on a seemingly ordinary day with a pain behind her left eye, it's little surprise that she attempted to go about her morning routine as usual. Taylor explains in detail the nuanced changes in her mental activity as her ability to grasp the world around her fades, and she slowly realizes she is having a stroke.
Taylor's narration of her memoir alternates from calm and steady to exuberant with insight. Her confidence and clarity as she recounts that morning in December of 1996 reflect her familiarity with the functioning of the brain. She articulates the gradual shutdown of her brain's systems, as her disposition transitions from indifference to panic. Taylor's description of the sensations of a brain losing its functionality is at once fascinating and utterly terrifying. To hear the terror unfold in her own voice makes this story especially intimate and moving. Taylor flickers between two contradictory modes of thinking; her left hemisphere, drowning from a ruptured AVM, tries to remind her she is suffering from stroke, while her right hemisphere, devoid of the normal chatter from the left-brain, experiences an increasing sense of nirvana and oneness with the universe. Taylor's narration reflects these opposing states of mind as her voice oscillates from a calm ambivalence to extreme distress and horror.
My Stroke of Insight is both an intense intellectual and spiritual work, with Taylor guiding her listener to a more self-conscious understanding of the way our minds construct our sense of reality. The book focuses on the morning of the stroke and the days and months following, with Taylor outlining what made her recovery possible. Undeniably the work of a scientist, Taylor remains as devoted to the study of the brain as she was before her stroke, while explaining the complexities of her subject with a clarity that makes it accessible even to those without a background in science. Her book is a rare look into stroke from the perspective of a woman uniquely qualified to describe it, and an inspirational and spiritual story of her journey to recovery. —Erin Ikeler
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Publisher's Summary

On the morning of December 10, 1996 Jill Bolte Taylor, a 37-year-old Harvard-trained brain scientist experienced a massive stroke when a blood vessel exploded in the left side of her brain. A neuroanatomist by profession, she observed her own mind completely deteriorate to the point that she could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life, all within the space of four brief hours. As the damaged left side of her brain - the rational, grounded, detail and time-oriented side - swung in and out of function, Taylor alternated between two distinct and opposite realties: the euphoric nirvana of the intuitive and kinesthetic right brain, in which she felt a sense of complete well-being and peace; and the logical, sequential left brain, which recognized Jill was having a stroke, and enabled her to seek help before she was lost completely.
In My Stroke of Insight, Taylor shares her unique perspective on the brain and its capacity for recovery, and the sense of omniscient understanding she gained from this unusual and inspiring voyage out of the abyss of a wounded brain. It would take eight years for Taylor to heal completely. Because of her knowledge of how the brain works, her respect for the cells composing her human form, and most of all an amazing mother, Taylor completely repaired her mind and recalibrated her understanding of the world according to the insights gained from her right brain that morning of December 10th.
Today Taylor is convinced that the stroke was the best thing that could have happened to her. It has taught her that the feeling of nirvana is never more than a mere thought away. By stepping to the right of our left brains, we can all uncover the feelings of well-being and peace that are so often sidelined by our own brain chatter.
A fascinating journey into the mechanics of the human mind, My Stroke of Insight is both a valuable recovery guide for anyone touched by a brain injury, and an emotionally stirring ...
©2008 Jill Bolte Taylor (P)2008 Penguin Audiobooks
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Polyhymnia on 09-26-09

Excellent description of stroke experience

I had a hemorrhagic stroke in 2002 and this book mirrored so many of my own experiences. I am so deeply thankful to Jill Bolte Taylor for her help in bringing some of my own memories back to me in a way that was very healing. In addition I gathered much strength from her thoughtful examination of the mind body connections. I am deeply grateful for her insight. We still have so much to learn.
It is a huge gift to have this book on Audioble for those of us who have had a stroke and still find reading print a laborious and slow task.

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17 of 18 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Kathy on 05-11-15

Tending The Garden of Your Mind

I found this audiobook to be a very unique, rewarding, and surprising experience. I don't think the book could have been written as effectively by anyone other than a brain scientist such as Jill Bolte Taylor. No one else could be coming from the same unique perspective or have the same awareness and deep knowledge of what was happening during and after a catastrophic stroke. Audible provides a very thorough description of what happened to Jill. However, you simply must listen to her story and keep an open mind as you yourself experience one surprise after another.

You may wonder what it felt like during her stroke, did she know what was happening, how did she get help, how did she rehabilitate so successfully while so many others are permanently affected and damaged? You will find out through the author's own voice and words. I found myself fascinated with how it felt to the victim immediately after her stroke and through the recovery process. I never once imagined that stroke damage could feel wonderful and that anyone would have to make themselves choose recovery over status quo! How could that be? Don't we all want to be the way we were before the damage occurred?

Be aware that in the last parts of the story, Bolte Taylor, feeling fully recovered, discusses much of her personal philosophy about her mind and the mind in general. I think her recommendations are immensely helpful if one is able to ponder what she says both during and after the audiobook experience. This seems to be the challenge for us all, giving up the hustle and bustle of our current lives and taking the time to still and ponder our present. I am very inspired by this book which turned out to be an unexpected gem for me.

As far as narration, as I listened I kept hoping it was Jill narrating. It was. How could anyone else capture the right inflections and feelings as well as the author/stroke victim, herself? No, she is not a professional narrator and her voice will reveal that, but there is something to said for someone narrating their own personal experience. What you may lose from lack of professionalism, you gain from authenticity.

Highly recommended for the thoughtful and the curious.

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12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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