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Beyond the Bear: How I Learned to Live and Love Again after Being Blinded by a Bear
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Beyond the Bear: How I Learned to Live and Love Again after Being Blinded by a Bear

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4.32 of 5 stars 4.32  ·  rating details  ·  374 ratings  ·  103 reviews
The unbelievable true story of a man who narrowly survived one of the most brutal grizzly bear attacks, and the love that separated his blindness from the dark.

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A 25-year-old backcountry wanderer, a man happiest exploring wild places with his dog, Dan Bigley woke up one midsummer morning to a day full of promise. Before it was over, after a stellar day of salmon fishing a
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Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Lyons Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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The Wayward Gifted by Donna K. ChildreeOnce Upon a Road Trip by Angela N. BlountI Am Her... by Sarah Ann WalkerBeyond the Bear by Dan BigleyThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The best so far
4th out of 23 books — 29 voters
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Books read in May 2013
1st out of 12 books — 3 voters


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Community Reviews

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Cherie
Honesty compells me to admit that I probably would never have read this book if it had not been for a challenge to find and read a book by an author that was born in my home town.

I might have seen the book at my home town library, but I am not sure if I would have picked it up to read it although I do admit, the title would have caught my eye. If it had, I can say that I probably would have picked it up and taken it home to read.

I don't have to worry about it now. I read it! Wow, what a story!
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Orsolya
I have a soft spot in my heart for bears: my name means “Little Bear” in Latin and is what my deceased father coined as a nickname. I had a dog growing up named Bear and live in California – a state with a bear on its flag. However, that love begs to be replaced by fear after reading “Beyond the Bear: How I Learned to Love and Live Again after Being Blinded by a Bear” by Dan Bigley and Debra McKinney.

With a rather self-explanatory title, “Beyond the Bear” is a true-story of Dan Bigley, a man wh
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Tara
I could not put this book down! The beautiful descriptions of Alaska were so good that they reminded me how it FEELS to be there. So the setting made me feel like I was breathing clean, cool, thin summer air on a bright sunny day... I was smiling to be a part of it. Then the tragic events took place and my heart went up into my throat. Unsuccessfully trying to hold back tears, I FELT the fear... the agony... the uncertainty... in a way I've never felt reading a book about someone else's experien ...more
Erica
As far as memoirs go this one is pretty amazing. I normally don't really enjoy them so much, because they feel false or too extreme. This felt more real, Dan is a real guy who got slammed with some incredibly terrible luck and eventually came out ok. I loved that Dan talked about how difficult it was to heal and that even with the best attitude you don't have a happy ending over night. I like when people are honest about their pain and challenges, but not too woe is me.

I liked that the book too
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Cait
Beyond the Bear is a bit... shocking. Or at least the first hundred pages left me wishing that I hadn't decided to read it right before bed, or during my lunch break. (In fact, one day I determined my lunch break was over because I had reached a point in the book where I could not have continued reading and eating at the same time.)

I shouldn't have been surprised. The book's subject matter is right in the title, and a more detailed description is available in the summary on the book jacket. I kn
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Meg - A Bookish Affair
I went to Alaska fairly recently and before I went I had a ton of people tease me about getting eaten by a bear. One of my co-workers lent me this book after I had gone to Alaska and I have to say that I was very happy that I read this book after I went on my trip. I would have been absolutely terrified! This book is the memoir of Dan Bigley, a gentleman who was attacked by a bear and was lucky to be alive afterwards. I love memoirs that show courage in the face of adversity and this book defini ...more
Jean
I have been impatiently waiting for this book since I heard about it last summer. Once I opened the book I couldn't put it down until I finished. I feel as if a tornado has picked me up, twirled me around and plastered me along side of a barn spread eagle, with my mouth hanging open. Although the book was initiated by a bear mauling in Alaska, this story should by no means be meant only for Alaskans, outdoor enthusiasts, or folks who have experienced horrific accidents - it is for all of mankind ...more
Maudeen Wachsmith
I just finished this great book! I'd give it 10 stars if that was an option! What a great story, and told so well by Dan Bigley and Debra McKinney. I bothered my husband who was reading something else,so much I think he got irritated by my reading so many great passages to him. There came a time when I couldn't read him passages out loud because I couldn't speak without crying. The times that touched me most weren't when Dan was injured, nor was it when he was in the hospital and told he was bli ...more
Virginia
Gripping and inspiring!

"Because I have made a full, rich life for myself, people respond to me like I’m something special. I just do what I have to do. The alternative would be to live in a straitjacket of misery. Life isn’t too short to live that way, life is too long. The same spirit and will that kept me going at the Russian River keeps me going today. The bear took my face and eyes, not my dignity, and not my ability to dream, and dream large."
AdriAnne
Dan Bigley's story is incredible and Debra McKinney's writing is amazing--the two together create one phenomenal memoir. I was glued to the book the moment I got it, finishing it in two sittings and only putting it down to sleep. I was breathless to know what happened, and both laughed and cried countless times as I whipped through the pages. This book is perfect for anyone who enjoys love stories, survival stories, natures stories, inspirational stories... basically, anybody. There is so much o ...more
Jeff Fair
A fantastic story--at once heart-rending and heartening. Dan's dedication to life and his rise out of darkness carries triumph, love, and inspiration, and Amber's story is just as poignant and heroic. I knew McKinney was a great writer from her features at the Anchorage Daily News, but here she proves herself a masterful storyteller in book-length. Once I started it, I could not put it down. It is a great read and a page-turner through to the end. Inspiring story, masterfully told.

Jeff Fair, au
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Angie
First of all, I'm seeing in the reviews that people won copies of this book. How do I get in on that action?

This book was awesome. Awesome, I tell you. I would give it a rating anywhere from 4.5-5 stars, which is a pretty big deal.

This book was very real. I was very drawn to the outdoorsy parts, but I loved learning about his path to recovery. I was so inspired by Dan. He illustrates the idea that it is not our situation that defines who we are or what we become.
Dan seems like a genuinely nice
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Louloudavies
From the Prologue to the final chapter I could not put this book down. The book is an insight into the human spirit and the strength of one man to continue living a full life despite having his face torn apart by a huge grizzly bear. The romance between Dan and Amber kept me on the edge of my seat, hoping that it would all work out for the best.

I just love this book and carry it inside me to remind me to act with grace and perseverance no matter what life throws at me. A fantastic book.
Jay
Beyond the Bear was a heart felt recount displaying the courage, friendship, and love that a person needs to survive a catastrophic bear attack. Dan Bigley, had all of those in his favor.

So many of these tales are filled with the sensationalism of the particulars of the attack itself. This book certainly lends some time to the attack, but devotes itself to the rescue and recovery. This gives the reader a more intimate view into how difficult this must have been to overcome.
Abby
There were so many amazing things about this story that I am having a hard time deciding where to start. I think I was firstly amazed by Dan's girlfriend Amber, that she would stick around after he was mauled by the bear. They had only really spent one night together so her devotion to him was incredible. It would have been so easy to leave his problems behind her. I loved seeing the support of his family and friends. He had so many people devoted to him and his recovery. It was good to see that ...more
Tara
There are some lines that stick with you and for me, the introduction to this book which tells the story of Dan Bigley, who survived a horrific bear attack after fishing in Alaska, has some of those moments and lines.

This book, while starting with moments one hopes never to experience, leads to an amazing story of the human spirit and its ability to triumph over what at times appear to be insurmountable odds and obstacles.
Suzanne
This is a harrowing story and Dan Bigley seems like a great guy who truly made the best of a terrible stroke of bad fortune. Towards the end of the book I got a little weary of hearing about his advantages, reporting of straight As, exceptional evaluations and extraordinariness. I also wasn't that interested in hearing every detail of every surgery. This may seem harsh after what he went through, but I kept thinking about how lucky he was to have a wealthy family and a lot of opportunity that a ...more
Michele A.
I won this book in a Goodreads givieaway and had someone read it to me. This is a book filled with a great human spirit of ablilty to deal with a tragic experience. Sometimes the human heart and will is amazing in what it can push through. Definitly a book to read.
Audrey Hammer
This was really well done -- it focused on the bear attack and the recovery process, including learning how to live blind; no unnecessary or irrelevant tangents. There's a lot of little things to laugh at, too. Dan is a very normal person. I'm not sure "inspiration" is the right word, but it's reassuring to see someone who is not extra talented or extra special (I don't mean that as an insult) overcome a lot of obstacles through hard work, determination, and a great support network. His story ma ...more
Lydia
Would almost give it a 5. Beautifully written true story of a man's focus on getting "beyond the bear" that attacked him, leaving him blind. You really feel like you know Dan by the end...his love of nature and music, his desire to stay positive even when things were just too hard, his sense of humor, willingness to keep trying, and his love for his wife and kids. The book was straight forward about the physical and emotional/mental struggles he faced. Everyone seemed so real to life. The writin ...more
Deyanne
Overwhelmingly humbling. This is an experience that rocks conceivable resilience. A twenty-five year old man, who had things really "going" for him is horribly mauled by a bear in Alaska. He lost his vision and a large part of his face which is described as "unrecognizable" (as faces go). The psychic aftermath is beyond comprehension. I was impressed with the doctors, trainers, family, girlfriend, friends, blind school, etc. etc. This is a true story of amazing people. Kudos to the man, his supp ...more
Corinne
Outstanding story! Copies of this book are going to be given out as Christmas presents this year!
Raven
The amazing story of how Bigley chose to continue living a full and engaging life after he was mauled by a bear and lost his sight. It was incredible to read about his recovery process and all the work that went into reconstructing his face and healing his body. However, it was even more inspirational to read about his emotional recovery and how he made the choice to live a "big life", as he puts it--big with love, connections, relationships, experiences, and hope. I enjoyed how his sense of hum ...more
Sam
Perfect combo of the fly fishing and surgery :)
MaryHelen
This is a masterpiece of a book. The writing is as good as it gets, and the almost unbelievable story is crammed with life lessons for all who read it. Despite what life has handed him, Dan is dedicated to living his life as fully as possible and determined not to become an angry or a bitter man. He is obviously very intelligent and capable. His decision first to live and then to live as well as he can is inspirational, with Amber's story icing on the cake that is his life. In my view, they are ...more
Amy
I received this book for free as part of goodreads first reads giveaways. This is a truly remarkable story about a man who seems to be truly remarkable himself. When the unthinkable happens to him, everything he knew to be familiar was ripped out from underneath him. He faces down the adversity and the grim reality of his life and chooses to press onward with optimism and hope. I was in tears throughout many parts of this book while Dan described all the support he had and the friends and family ...more
Laurie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy
*won a copy of this book in Goodreads Giveaways*

The story is fascinating and well written...almost too well. It seems more like a "story" than a real life. I don't know how anyone can remember every detail from clothes worn to who they looked at first when entering a room to conversations, etc., in such trying circumstances. But maybe that's just how this type of book is written...I'm currently reading "A Higher Call" based on interviews with WWII pilots that is the same way...and from even long
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Alisa
This was a fascinating story. Having never been to Alaska, I loved hearing about all the beauty of Alaska. The story of the actual bear attack is quite small, but Dan's recovery and decision to live is what truly makes the story great. I'm amazed at his ability to recognize that life will be hard, but that it will still be worth it. He is truly an amazing person to be able to deal with hard things in life and then overcome it to be a very successful person. Very enjoyable book.
Jon P.
Dan Bigley, you sir are a champion! Amber and Dan, your love for each-other is touching. Thank you.

This is a great story, sprinkled with lessons, is well worth the read.

I thought this book was a worthwhile read. I only give my absolute favourite books 5 stars. Dan Bigley has shared some good lessons in this book. In a section he say that the one thing he didn't want to be was an angry man. I see this as a good reminder to ourselves. He seems like a good person. He also spoke of how he had a fune
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Before the bear, with a degree in natural history from Arizona‚’s Prescott College, I’d landed the most challenging and rewarding job I’d ever had, taking severely emotionally disturbed children on recreational outings for Alaska Children’s Services. After the bear, I got a master’s degree in social work from the University of Alaska-Anchorage. I’m now director of therapeutic foster care for Denal ...more
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Beyond the Bear: How I Learned to Live and Love Again After Being Blinded by a Bear

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