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My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  24,658 ratings  ·  3,562 reviews
Jill Taylor was a 37-year-old Harvard-trained brain scientist when a blood vessel exploded in her brain. Through the eyes of a curious scientist, she watched her mind deteriorate whereby she could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life. Because of her understanding of the brain, her respect for the cells in her body, and an amazing mother, Jill completely r ...more
Paperback, 188 pages
Published November 1st 2006 by (first published 2006)
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Sep 17, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
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
Books Ring Mah Bell
Feb 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Elyse  Walters
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this years ago --- still own it. I thought the insights were amazing --and a fascinating story. --
Emotional too....This was a woman's 'life'.

Interesting how books pop into our space when we are meeting new friends on Goodreads....
Brings back memories of books we read!

A treasure in itself! -- make a new friend = re-visit books we have read.............nice deal!

Nov 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir-essay
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
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 16, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Jun 29, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  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
Mar 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2011
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
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars means, to me, that everybody should read it, not that it's necessarily a perfect book.

Everybody is fairly likely to have a stroke, watch someone who is having a stroke, know someone who is recovering from a stroke, or at least visit a rehabilitation clinic or nursing home. The recommendations at the end are important. First there's a page that reminds you what a stroke feels like, and tells you to get help immediately.* Then there's a list of advice on how to help someone who is in thera
May 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Anne  (on semi-hiatus)
Apr 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Amazing story about a neuroscientist who observes herself as she has a stroke. She is not expected to recover, but with her knowledge, the dedication of and help from her mother as well as keeping naysayers out of her life Bolte regained all of her pre-stroke functioning. An important and inspirational memoir about the ability of the brain to heal, otherwise known as neuroplasticity. Read this or listen to Bolte's amazing Ted talk. ...more
Feb 09, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
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
Bonnie Jean
Feb 14, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Nov 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Mar 27, 2009 rated it liked it
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
There's great value here - but you have to wade through a lot to get to it. Taylor's step-by-step recalling of her hemorrhagic left-hemisphere stroke was both enlightening and tedious. She was so acutely aware of what was happening - enough to describe in full detail here - but unable to really do anything about it. Once discovered, completely unable to comprehend and communicate, she goes through months of recovery, including a surgery to clear the blood clot. Her mother gently and compassionat ...more
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Mary Vogelsong
This book is an amazing story of a neuro-scientist who experiences her own stroke. She not only recognizes obvious symptoms like loss of speech and one-sided paralysis, but she can envision what is happening on the cell level in her brain.

Fortunately, with the extreme patience and love of her mother, she eventually regains enough function to live on her own and resume work. Some parts of her job are too stressing and now too difficult, so she works out a different job description with her boss.
Linda Robinson
Dec 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 26, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Mark Picketts
Jan 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Brian Eshleman
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
This compact memoir of a neuroscientist's experience of stroke and recovery made for extremely compelling reading. She was able to vividly describe the symptoms of her oncoming stroke and also affect if we describe the impact of the experience. Her candor about the immediate and ongoing impact of the attitude of her caregivers, whether condescending, patient, or encouraging, definitely made me as a reader involved in another helping profession examine the messages I give off in my verbal and non ...more
Heidi The Reader
My takeaway learning moment from this is Jill's idea that a powerful emotion, once triggered, only remains a pure physical process for about 90 seconds. After that time, we make a conscious decision to "hook" into that emotion to prolong it or not. We can chose to react a different way if we desire. I found that to be empowering. ...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
Apr 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 surrounding stroke.

May 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Judy by: Mikki
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
Nov 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brains, memoir
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
What a fascinating and inspiring book. Jill's description of her experience of losing her left brain thinking skills due to a stroke in the left hemisphere, which meant that she could no longer read or interpret language, speak or recall words or their meanings but instead experienced the world of the senses much more vividly, often painfully while experiencing a deep sense of belonging and wonder living only in the moment, the now, is profound and rang a lot bells for me. Working with young peo ...more
Jill Bolte Taylor was a single, 37-year old neuroanatomist (brain scientist), when she, herself, suffered a stroke. This book tells her story of the stroke and her 8 year recovery.

The first part of the book explained some of the science of the brain. Have to admit that my mind wandered during parts of this section, but from what I heard, she was making it easy enough to understand. I was listening to the audio, which of course, makes it a bit easier for my mind to wander. The author read the au
Bert Edens
Like many, I was led to this book by Dr. Taylor's keynote speech of the same name on YouTube. It was fascinating to read her take on not only the morning of the stroke, but who she was before the stroke and who she chose to become after the stroke. The latter half is a key component of the book, as when Dr. Taylor found her left brain, the judgmental, ego-centric portion of our brain, offline and inoperable, needing to be literally rebuilt on a neuron level of eight years, she found she could ch ...more
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Play Book Tag: My Stroke of Insight / Jill Bolte Taylor. 4 stars 6 29 Jan 08, 2017 08:29PM  
Play Book Tag: My Stroke of Insight / Jill Bolte Taylor. 4 stars 1 10 Jan 06, 2017 08:47PM  
He has researched the brain Neuro3X 1 17 Oct 21, 2014 02:20AM  

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Jill Bolte Taylor 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 Re ...more

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