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My Stroke of Insight

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  15,140 ratings  ·  2,543 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)
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
I'm a neurologist, so I approached this book from a different angle than most readers, I imagine.

In short, it was not what I expected. Although she was a neuroanatomist prior to the stroke, the book is not science-y at all. That is both good and bad.

The good:
A first-hand account of being afflicted by a brain bleed (with aphasia, or inability to produce language, and other losses of function) is priceless. In medicine, we have a great deal to learn from knowing what our patients are going through
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
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
Bonnie Jean
I absolutely couldn't stand this book. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that until I was over a third of the way into it, at which point I had to finish it, detesting myself the entire time.

The woman who wrote this book is a neuroanatomist who had a unique and amazing opportunity to document the experience of having a hemorrhagic stroke from someone who understands how different parts of the brain function.

That being said, she is not a brain surgeon. She is not a clinician. And yet from the way s
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
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
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
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.
I approached this book with a lot of optimism. I'd expected Taylor's story to be a straight-up memoir of her stroke experience. Instead, it was a sort of hodge-podge of things- part memoir, part brain science overview and part new-age, self help weird '4th grade happy talk' as another reviewer aptly described. The actual story of her stroke experience was interesting; even her bio-science chapters about how the brain works were intriguing and easy to understand (at least to me), but the last thi ...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
I have a feeling I would have enjoyed this book more if I weren't a neuroscientist myself. First the good parts -- her account of lucidly experiencing a hemorrhagic stroke, when combined with her basic knowledge of human brain structure, was the most interesting part of the book. Furthermore, she provides excellent advice for doctors, nurses, and caretakers of patients dealing with a stroke and its aftermath.

Where the book began to go wrong for me was its overly simplistic view of brain structur
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
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
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
I received a lot of solace from this book. My dear mother in law suffered a stroke and lived for six months after. I wish I had read this book sooner as it would have been helpful to have Jill's insight. But, it was a solace to me after the fact and after her passing, knowing that the way I treated my mother in law during this time--by being patient, giving her time to express herself and time to rest was the best I could do. I am glad for the times I resisted the urge to force small talk and to ...more
Someone gave this as their example of what to expect from this book, and, well, it's pretty instructive all on its own:

"I unconditionally love my cells with an open heart and grateful mind. Spontaneously throughout the day, I acknowledge their existence and enthusiastically cheer them on. I am a wonderful living being capable of beaming my energy into the world, only because of them. When my bowels move, I cheer my cells for clearing that waste out of my body. When my urine flows, I admire the v
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 blow by blow description of her stroke is fascinating. Within four hours she lost the ability to walk, talk, read, write or recall aspects of her life. Taylor also gives a good lesson on basic brain scie ...more
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Huntsville-Madiso...: Staff Picks -- My Stroke of Insight 1 8 Oct 17, 2012 07:50PM  
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is an American neuroanatomist, author, and public speaker. Her training is in the postmortem investigation of the human brain as it relates to schizophrenia and the severe mental illnesses. She founded the nonprofit Jill Bolte Taylor Brains, Inc., she is affiliated with the Indiana University School of Medicine, and she is the national spokesperson for the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center.

More about Jill Bolte Taylor...

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“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.” 58 likes
“Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated.” 54 likes
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