Survival Lessons
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Survival Lessons

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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  901 ratings  ·  236 reviews
Fifteen years ago, Alice Hoffman received a diagnosis that changed everything about the life she’d been living. Most significant—aside from the grueling physical ordeal she underwent—was the way it changed how she felt inside and what she thought she ought to be doing with her days. Now she has written the book that she needed to read then.

In this honest, wise, and upbeat...more
Audio CD, 60 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by HighBridge Company
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Cheryl McNeil
This is a tiny book. Like, you will finish it in a little over an hour. At first I thought, no one who isn’t already terribly famous would be able to get away with this at a publishing house. All the rest of us have to shoot for the 40,000 word minimum. But after reading the book, I was no longer miffed. There is purpose and effectiveness that would be impossible without brevity. Hoffman — one of my favorite fiction writers — survived breast cancer 15 years ago. This isn’t a breast cancer memoir...more
Michele Harrod
Alice could write a note and leave it on my bench telling me she was popping out for coffee - and I know it would be delightful. This is 83 pages of grace, as Alice reflects on the things she learned while going through cancer treatment. It's like a tiny pocket guide to remind you of the things in life that are worth living for. And how living can be done so beautifully... with a glitter pen and a note book. A great brownie recipe or a faithful puppy. The simplicity alone made this little gem ex...more
Mary Chrapliwy
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 b...more
Diane S.
This is a book to read to remind one's self that no matter how dark things get, there is always a better way and a different way of looking at things. So this is more of a road map for those in physical or mental distress who cannot figure out which way to go.

My favorite part of this novel was actually the prologue when Hoffman talks about her heroes, Anne Frank who always found something bright even in darkness and her own mother. It made this rather common sense book a little more special.
Mary
Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman is a slim, light volume packed with valuable insight on how to survive the worst days of your life. A cancer survivor of 15 years, Hoffman shares her wisdom and reminds the reader to appreciate life's beauty that remains and surrounds us. Down-to-earth, simple & doable advice appears on every page. " You can't run away by ignoring the truth. Truth follows you; it comes in through open windows, and drifts under the door." Those who have suffered from a life a...more
Jinnie
Somebody, somewhere will no doubt get comfort out of this very slim book. I was not one of those people. Did you know when you're struck with a serious, life-threatening illness you should surround yourself with people who love you? Do the things you've always wanted to do? Buy a puppy - but make sure someone is around to walk it when you can't, and promise to care for it if you die? The book was filled with these gems. I don't doubt this work of non-fiction arose out of Hoffman's personal exper...more
Alena
I read this in under an hour and now I want to run out and buy 10 copies to have on hand for when friends need this little book of wisdom.

I think Alice Hoffman would be a wonderful friend.
Natalie Serber
I’m not going to lie, I picked up Alice Hoffman’s new book, "Survival Lessons," with a mixture of hope and trepidation. Hope that her exploration of her breast cancer journey would resonate with me in the wake of my own recent breast cancer experience. Hope that she would put into words some of my own feelings, my fears, and I might feel known. Trepidation, or maybe flat-out fear, that the book would come to a bad end, or that I would somehow not be able to connect and would end up feeling more...more
Chris
Dec 02, 2013 Chris rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chris by: Tori
This book is written by a survivor of breast cancer but can be read relating to any kind of loss. I love the upbeat attitude, how to live for today and enjoy everything. The advice about just leaving behind 'friends' that are not there for you particularly spoke to me. I fought with myself about this but have a couple of these folks in my life that have abandoned me when I really needed them (through my son's battle with brain cancer and then his death this year). Goodbye, without regrets.

I als...more
Jackie Lane
This is a warm and uplifting book about how to look at life when bad things happen. Alice Hoffman was diagnosed with breast cancer 15 years ago and this is a book of how she views life, what she learned, what would or did help her and just her fabulous outlook on life. This is the sort of book that you want to give to someone who is dealing a loss, tragedy or health issue.
Laura
In the past year I've lost one uncle I cared about greatly, two I didn't care so much about, two high school friends, watched others struggle with life and health, and struggled with those things myself. Usually those thin books of "helpful words" make me roll my eyes and cringe but this book? I want to buy a copy for everyone I know.

We all know that we should carpe diem, but Hoffman's wonderful prose and suggestions (I so want to take her trip to Italy for her! or with her!) brings it home just...more
Mary
My mother has dementia. An avid reader still, although I suspect she reads the same books over and again thinking they are "new"...My husband and I take Mom every Saturday to lunch and then over to her favorite Humane Society Thrift Store. This wekend was a special sale day..fill a bag with books for a buck. So there we are filling up a bag, and I didn't bother to remind her that she has read every single Janet Evanovich book at least 10 times when she slipped in Lean Mean 13...and out of the co...more
Kathryn
When Alice Hoffman was diagnosed with breast cancer 15 years ago she began looking for some sort of book to guide her during this time, some insights, some thoughts on survival. She found nothing.

So here she is 15 years later writing a book for others. The last paragraph in the Preface she says "We all experience trauma and we all take a very personal path to healing on our own terms. But we're also alike in what we need most. Love really is the answer. I received so many gifts from friends and...more
Mariah
This book was okay.

I read it because I like Alice Hoffman. I'm probably going a bit easy on the book as a result.

It's not that this book was bad-- it wasn't. It's just been written before. Eat your dessert first, take the trip you've always wanted, dream big. Learn to knit, join a support group, throw a party. Carpe diem. Her lessons were true, and they were good-- but I didn't find this to be presented in a particularly new or profound way.

But like many things, simple can be good. I just wishe...more
Jen
Sweet little (by little I mean I finished it in under an hour) book for anyone undergoing a life-changing trauma. Alice Hoffman is my FAVORITE AUTHOR in the entire world, so anything she writes is a gift. Alice wrote this because she went through treatment for breast cancer 15 years ago and wanted a guidebook for others who experienced what she did. Many sweet little nuggets of wisdom are contained in this book for all of us.

Waiting on pins and needles for Alice's next novel the day before my b...more
Vikk Simmons
Alice Hoffman is a fine writer and a personal favorite. So it wouldn't be any surprise to learn that her latest release Survival Lessons is well-written. What may be a surprise is that it is such a short work (95 pages) and not fiction.

As a reader, you have to love anyone who says, as Hoffman does,"In my family, a book can be a life raft." And that is precisely what Hoffman wants to provide for her readers. Drawing from her years of battling cancer and experiencing loss, Hoffman reveals the how...more
Janine
As always, Ms. Hoffman mines the truths of our lives and did so in her own. She made me cry at times, especially when her distillation rang like Waterford. While I'm no wimp in facing mortality, she reminded me of joys in the process and joys in pushing away the inevitable. Laughed out loud when she connected her first dog Houdini with what she needed in a husband. Afterward I enjoyed spinach lasagna for dinner with apple-cranberry coconut crumble for dessert. Life's short. Read well, eat well,...more
Donna
Do yourself a favor and read this book. It took me about an hour but it is a little gem of a book. Meant for women dealing with serious illness, it is actually a survival guide for those dealing with life. Inspiring and thought provoking about what is truly important, and how to make the most out of each and every day that we have. I borrowed it from the library but plan to buy a copy so that I can re-read at certain times and remind myself to celebrate the fortune of good health.
Christine
"Eyes say everything---they show what's inside you whether you're six or ninety-six. I remember my grandmother telling me she was shocked every time she passed a mirror. She expected to see a beautiful sixteen-year-old girl, and instead she saw an old woman. But she was still sixteen when she laughed. And when I looked in her eyes I knew exactly who she was."
Ken French
I picked this up at Book Expo today. Exquisitely written vignettes about life. Hoffman's first nonfiction book; serious without being gloomy. Her love of life comes through.
Sue  Parker Gerson
This is an incredible little gem of a book. Read my JAAMM festival preview copy in one sitting. I wish I could memorize it.
Shannon
Searching, searching, searching....

I went to BAM yesterday, searching for something; I didn't know what. I was craving something but had no idea what would fill my need. A different author? A different genre? Something.... After walking around and about the store for a bit, I honed in on this. Alice Hoffman! Wait.... Alice Hoffman had cancer? What was I holding in my hands? Words of pain and survival. Advice about friendship and heroes and eating chocolate and making plans to do something specia...more
MA
This book probably falls under the self-help genre which I rarely read. When Alice Hoffman was being treated for breast cancer, she said that she was looking for a guidebook. She needed help dealing with her trauma. Fourteen years later, she wrote this beautiful book to share her suggestions about what she would have liked to have heard during that time. The guidance she provides for living life and finding beauty during the dark times is done with great warmth and wit. While I have heard many o...more
Bev
Boy did this come along at the right time. I happened to see it on the shelf in the library and, since I like Alice Hoffman, I thought it might make a good listen in the car. It's short--only one CD--so it does not become preachy or maudlin. It's just Ms. Hoffman talking about her diagnosis and treatment of cancer and what it has taught her about life. She says she wrote it because it was the kind of thing she wanted to read when she was going through her crisis. She sums it up best in her own w...more
Melanie Greene
http://dakimel.blogspot.com/2013/12/s...

Good things come in small packages sometimes, and it's very much true in this case. After cancer and treatment and the mental blows that accompanied the physical ones, Hoffman was moved to think deeply about the choices she made with her life. I don't get the impression she was living such a bad life before the diagnosis - certainly her career was already going very strong - but it's not the overall course of things, it's the small decisions and moments th...more
Shoshanah
I was so excited when I received a request to review this book. I absolutely LOVED Hoffman's The Dovekeepers, and ever since then have wanted to read more by her. And while these two books are about two completely different subjects, both have a similar poetic beauty about them.

Survival Lessons is somewhat of a self-help book that Hoffman was inspired to write from her struggles cancer. It's the type of advice she received, would have loved to receive, or would later give herself. And while the...more
Aisha Oaktree
Published Originally on Bewitching Bibliophile

I love Alice, yes, I love her so much, so when I heard she was going to be at BEA I was all over myself to get to her. I got the book and I love it!!! As a long term disease sufferer, it's a pain in the rear to read books that try to make it sound like that you will be fine (you will be, but still don't invalidate my pain).

I read this book on the train and I was crying my eyes out, because it's so good to hear so many of these lessons from someone w...more
MountainShelby
This is a terrific book, very heartfelt and magical (no surprise from Hoffman). I found great beauty and inspiration in Hoffman's "simple" suggestions, which encourage us to find beauty in the seemingly commonplace as well as the inherently magical (Venice). While this doesn't make for the newest advice, Hoffman's ability to extract the magic from the simple is what makes this book so compelling. She weaves in her personal experience surviving breast cancer without ever being maudlin or making t...more
(Lonestarlibrarian) Keddy Ann Outlaw
I read this short book in one sitting, and was impressed with its wisdom. Intended for those battling cancer, the short chapters essentially present ways to make the most of life and therefore, in my opinion, has wide appeal for everyone, most especially women. I loved the indigo tinted photographs sprinkled through the book, most contributed by the author herself. Each chapter could be used for discussion in support groups: how to enjoy yourself, choose your friends and whose advice you take, c...more
Jaci
What a good little book. Alice Hoffman relates what she has learned being a cancer survivor. What she has learned also applies to surviving life as we live it. Short and sweet and to the point.

p.ix: "There is always a before and an after. My advice, travel light. Choose only what you need most to see you through."

p.35: "I read because I wanted to escape sadness, which was a big theme in my family. My great-grandfather had been forced into the czar's army, where he served for twenty years, before...more
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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...more
More about Alice Hoffman...
The Dovekeepers Here on Earth Practical Magic The Ice Queen The Red Garden

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“In my family, a book can be a life raft.” 4 likes
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