My Stroke of Insight
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

My Stroke of Insight

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  11,996 ratings  ·  2,267 reviews
A brain scientist's journey from a debilitating stroke to full recovery becomes an inspiring exploration of human consciousness and its possibilities On the morning of December 10, 1996 Jill Bolte Taylor, a thirty-seven-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 profe...more
ebook, 192 pages
Published May 12th 2008 by Viking Books (first published 2006)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jill Bolte Tayor was a 37-year old neuroanatomist when she experienced a massive stroke that severely damaged the left hemisphere of her brain. My Stroke of Insight is her account of what happened that day, her subsequent 8-year recovery, and how these events changed her life for the better.

The most interesting part of the book for me was Bolte Taylor’s discussion of what happened to her on that morning in 1996. With her scientific background, Bolte Taylor was in a unique position to observe the...more
Books Ring Mah Bell
The author, an accomplished neuroanatomist, suffers a massive CVA at the age of 37. She takes the reader through the events of her stroke and the recovery. (8 long years of recovery!) She gives basic brain science for understanding, and speaks from the heart.

The grouch in me wanted to poo-poo the whole book when she started in with how she uses "angel cards" to start her day. I ignored the alarm in my head, screaming, "New age kook! Abort! Abort!" But it was too late. I was suckered in. And rea...more
May 10, 2010 Janet rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Janet by: I did. Why, oh why?
Shelves: book-club
I closed this book today with such a sense of relief. This is, in essence, a self help book marked by the author's inflated (with due reason, I know) sense of self and a few interesting tidbits about brain chemistry.

Let's get a few things straight:
1. I love reading about the brain.
2. I was really, really wanting to love this book.
3. I, like the author, believe that--in most cases--happiness and peacefulness can be choices for every person and that our brain can become wired to react more positiv...more
I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. I wanted this book to be several other books than the one it actually was. I found it alternately fascinating and incredibly irritating.

Taylor is a brain scientist who had a stroke and recovered enough to write about it. The chance to learn about what that experience was like seemed compelling enough to me to start reading the book. When her left brain went offline due to the stroke, she experienced only living in her right brain --what she d...more
whoa. i probably should have paid more attention to the little tagline under her name that proudly proclaims "the singin' scientist" and put it down immediately. but that wasn't how it worked.

see, the author is a brain scientist who had a stroke. i heard her speak on NPR and she was insightful and funny and had very interesting things to say about the brain, so i put the book on hold at the library and a eagerly picked it up a few days ago.

i loved the section of the book that gave us an intro c...more
Jul 14, 2008 Cindy rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone dealing with the injured brain
Shelves: memoir
This book wasn't what I was expecting. I expected to read a memoir of sorts. Maybe a before and after or even a during the process what was happening. And JBT does write "lightly" about those things. But mainly she is writing a self-help book that seeks to influence the rest of us to embrace the right side of our brains. As a brain scientist, she has a stroke then discovers she is one with the universe. Her brain and her cells are beautiful! Oh how lovely the world and everyone in it! The inform...more
For me, the most fascinating part of this book is the description of the actual stroke and the immediate aftermath. To have suffered such a traumatic brain injury and live to tell about it in such detail is amazing. Doubly amazing for verbalizing what a brain is like when it goes non-verbal.

One funny detail during the stroke is that, while she's rapidly losing the ability to conceptualize numbers and language, somehow part of her brain still knew she needed HMO approval prior to using emergency...more
You couldn't invent a more interesting premise: Dr. Taylor, a brain scientist, has a major stroke and goes through years of rehabilitation after the left hemisphere of her brain is severely damaged. She ultimately recovers and records her detailed memories of the stroke and its aftereffects.

Dr. Taylor has given a talk on this subject at a TED Conference -- see the video at

This is what drew me to reading My Stroke of Insight, and the book does deliver on...more
Oh, gag. Yes, really. I'm glad the author used her stroke to find nirvana, but honestly, stroke just ain't this pretty.

The first half of this book, more or less, was a page turner and I was fascinated. Dr. Taylor was a successful 37-year-old neuroanatomist who suffered a hemorrhagic stroke as a result of a congenital condition called arteriovenous malformation (AVM). Partly because of her training and knowledge and partly, I suspect, because of the way the stroke's effects developed and progress...more
May 10, 2010 Stephy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who has had a stroke, or knows someone who has had a stroke
Everyone who has ever had a stroke must have this book read to them, slowly. Everyone who ever knew anyone who had a stroke must read this book. The author was a brain scientist with a Ph.D. in neuroanatomy. She described her experience of having a stroke, the loss of her faculties, her surgery, and recovery over a period of almost a decade, to someone like the woman she was before the stroke.

Her description of how to help a stroke victim on their return from a hospital are remarkable. The relat...more
Mark Picketts

In a nut shell: I control my brain, my brain controls how I interpret the world - I am in control of my world.
(so choose a good world - for everyone's sake)

I thought this book was really great. It had moments of greatness, and moments of "really?", but I thought the message was solid and something worth being reminded of. Particularly Dr. Taylor's experience while her stroke was happening was really an intense and one of the powerful sections i have read in a long time. The physiology and knowle...more
Four stars for the accessible explanations of brain function and warning signs of stroke. Four stars for the fascinating walk through the day of Dr. Taylor's stroke, and for her descriptions of the recovery process. Four stars for her observations about medical care and the attitudes of doctors and nurses and visitors. Three stars for the lengthy exercises in right brain exploration, which were fascinating but a little too fluffy for me. I listened to the audio version on a lengthy drive, and th...more
Thought I'd be more engaged than I was in this book. The writing is pretty flat. Her blow-by-blow description of her thoughts and physical sensations mid-stroke were astonishing, though. How did she retain her memory of all the details? Eh, guess I shouldn't have skimmed.
Warning: This is long, contains ranting, and is rather harsh at times.

From a biology perspective, this book was crazy cool, as are most things biological. The brain is ridiculously amazing. It completely blows my mind whenever I think about it. However, from a writing perspective, I was not a fan.

I would now like to preface the rest of my analytical, left-brain comments by saying that: The author had a stroke, it is absolutely incredible how well she has recovered, and I have no idea whatsoever...more
While I found the anatomical explanation of a stroke interesting and the tour of how the brain works equally engaging, the remaining chapters on the possibility of obtaining peace through the right brain fascinated me. IMO,this is Bolte-Taylor's stroke's biggest contribution to science. The impact provides more help to us, average joes and jills than millions of dollars in donations to brain research. I like the author's means of sharing her insight in a practical and understandable way.

What kee...more
I liked the book. Perhaps putting it on my science shelf is questionable, but I thought it belonged on there more than not. But it's perhaps a 55/45 proposition.

Taylor's writing voice is somewhat bland, and full of stock phrases and cliche, but the woman's story is incredible. If a woman can recover - basically completely - from the size of a stroke she had, then there's hope for everybody. That's what makes the book so much worth reading. On the other hand, everything is so positive - she's not...more
Helen (Helena/Nell)
This book had quite an interesting effect as soon as it entered the house. My other half, who doesn't read this kind of thing, immediately picked it up and read the first few chapters. Then he got quite agitated. It appeared it was a very accurate account of what it's like to have a stroke from the inside. He should know because he's had one. I haven't. However, he didn't read the whole book.

I read the whole book. It is extremely interesting. Not just because of the account of having a stroke fr...more
Linda Robinson
From the anatomically correct stained glass brain on the front (which the author made, a second version displayed at Harvard) to the back cover praise, this is an intriguing, educational, dually mindful book about the 50 trillion cells that make a human being go. Dr. Bolte Taylor's journey back into both sides of her brain, after the left hemisphere of her brain took an unauthorized 8 year sabbatical is a story that needs to be required reading for staff at nursing homes, assisted living centers...more
Jun 14, 2008 Ruzz rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The Brain Injured (no really) and people interested in the duality of our minds.
Shelves: 2008
I think my view of this book lacked a dimension and that lacking sullied what might have been a marvelous book. The angle I approached the book was--having watched her video on ted--about the mind and it's two halves and their role in cogitation and bliss.

The idea of a more concrete delineation between the thinking mind and the feeling mind from someone who had one half turned off for a time seemed really appealing.

What turned me off then was 120 of 170 pages devoted to what happened (AVM stro...more
I listened to CD set recording of Jill’s book only after my own mini-stroke a year ago & small stroke nearly a half-year ago. Like Jill, I was able to feel and observe some very similar feelings and thoughts for from about a few hours & up to about a day during my stroke. Regardless of whether you’re recovering from a stroke or supporting a stroke survivor, I think Jill’s book is a must-read for everyone. It can help us all gain a better understanding of the events & issues surroundi...more
Truly poignant and interesting book that has stayed with me since I began reading it. Written by a neuroatonomist who suffered a rare form of stroke at the age of 37, this story was compelling not only for the biological and scientific implications of stroke on the human brain, but also on a personal and human level in terms of how to rebound after injury. Dr. Taylor worked extremely hard to rewire and regain functionality of her brain. I found the writing to be a little forced, specifically whe...more
May 18, 2009 Christina rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Christina by: Oprah...
I had high expectations to this book - and it didn't quite meet them. I expected a personal story of a woman surviving and fully recovering from a major stroke with the added bonus of her being a brain scientist. Instead, it felt like a weird mishmash of three books: An easy introduction to how the brain functions, a personal account of how a stroke feels and the after-effects of it and finally, a sort of self-help book about being in touch with both your brain halves and not letting the analyti...more
When this fascinating book, My Stroke of Insight, came into my husband picked it up at the library...I thought, Nice title! and that was that. I wasn't up for a book about a person having a stroke. Even when I heard that the author, Jill Bolte Taylor, is a brain scientist, I didn't appreciate how riveting and instructive her narrative could be. Fortunately, after a barrage of raves from my husband, I finally started to read it. Taylor was 36, and alone at home, when she had her stroke....more
Jill Bolte Tayler, a neuroscientist whose resume includes working for the Harvard Brain Bank, describes the radically altered states of consciousness she achieved after having a stroke. The stroke incapacitated much of the left hemisphere of her brain, which she had allowed to dominate and inhibit the perceptions from her right hemisphere for most of her adult life. Freed from the tyranny of her inner chatterbox's worries and negative thought patterns, she experienced bliss and a sense of onenes...more
Feb 14, 2009 Anna rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults
Recommended to Anna by: Samina
I really enjoyed reading this book, even though I didn't always agree with her 100% and I felt like she became a bit preachy towards the end. It was an extremely engaging read and it helped me understand a lot more about how the brain works. Prior to reading this book (which was required reading for a graduate education class), I really had very little interest in learning about the brain and/or the differences between the left and right brain. This book changed that. Jill Bolte Taylor's account...more
Jill Bolte Taylor worked as a neuroscientist at Harvard University's Brain Bank. At the age of 37, she suffered a massive, life threatening stroke which left her paralyzed on her right side, unable to walk, speak, read, or understand the meaning of most words. She describes what she can remember about the stroke and the early hours of her hospitalization. She then details her long and arduous road to recovery over the next eight years. Dr. Taylor's advice on how to interact with stroke victims i...more
Jill Bolte Taylor has a stroke at the age of 37. As a neuro-anatamist, she was in the unique position to understand what was happening when the bleeding in her left brain began. She also had a wonderful mother who helped aid in her recovery, although Bolte Taylor doens't think of it as "recovery," because she does not go back to being the person she was before the stroke.

A good look at the symptoms of her stroke, her recovery process, and the patience and persistance it took for Bolte Taylor to...more
I chose to read this book initially because my grandpa had given it to me as a gift, knowing that I loved to learn about the brain, and told me it was a "fascinating insight" and "a book I would'n't forget." It's written by Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain researcher at Harvard who experienced a massive stroke and wrote about the experience, from the first stroke symptoms to her physical and emotional recovery. The most riveting part of the book was her impressive recollection of the moments before an...more
Simon Cleveland
Detail account of a stroke survivor's struggle to regain control of her brain. An uplifting book as it helps stroke patients discover a way to overcome the desease. Recommended read for those interested in the functions of the brain, mind and body.
This was a very interesting book about how different out left and right brains are and still able to work together.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
thanks 5 103 Feb 07, 2013 08:56PM  
Huntsville-Madiso...: Staff Picks -- My Stroke of Insight 1 7 Oct 17, 2012 07:50PM  
  • Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath
  • Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside
  • Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life
  • Over My Head: A Doctor's Own Story of Head Injury from the Inside Looking Out
  • The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach
  • Into the Silent Land: Travels in Neuropsychology
  • Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are
  • When the Air Hits Your Brain: Tales of Neurosurgery
  • Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle
  • In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind
  • A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness: From Impostor Poodles to Purple Numbers
  • The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force
  • Soul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain--and How it Changed the World
  • Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique
  • Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves
  • The Woman Who Changed Her Brain: And Other Inspiring Stories of Pioneering Brain Transformation
  • Reading in the Brain: The Science and Evolution of a Human Invention
  • Brain Surgeon: A Doctor's Inspiring Encounters with Mortality and Miracles
Jill Bolte Taylor is a neuroanatomist who specializes in the postmortem investigation of the human brain. She teaches at the Indiana University School of Medicine, is the national spokesperson for the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, and is the consulting neuroanatomist for the Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute.
More about Jill Bolte Taylor...

Share This Book

“Unfortunately, as a society, we do not teach our children that they need to tend carefully the garden of their minds. Without structure, censorship, or discipline, our thoughts run rampant on automatic. Because we have not learned how to more carefully manage what goes on inside our brains, we remain vulnerable to not only what other people think about us, but also to advertising and/or political manipulation.” 48 likes
“Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated.” 35 likes
More quotes…