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An Hour to Live, an Hour to Love: The True Story of the Best Gift Ever Given

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If you had one hour to live and could make just one phone call, who would you call? What would you say? Why are you waiting? Richard Carlson's sudden, tragic death in December 2006 left his millions of fans reeling, but even their many letters, calls, and emails couldn't erase the loss felt by his wife, Kristine. To try and come to terms with her loss, she pored over 25 years of love letters, reliving the memories and cherishing her late husband's memory. But one letter stood out. Richard had written to his wife on their 18th wedding anniversary and attempted to answer the if you had one hour to live, what would you do, who would you call, and what would you say? An Hour to Live, an Hour to Love is a profoundly moving book that shows the importance of treasuring each day as the incredible gift it is.

96 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2007

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About the author

Richard Carlson

5,977 books753 followers
Richard Carlson, Ph.D, was born and raised in the Bay Area. He grew up in Piedmont and received his bachelor's degree from Pepperdine University and his doctorate in psychology from Sierra University before opening a private psychotherapy practice.

During his life, he was considered one of the foremost experts in happiness and stress reduction in the United States and around the world and was a frequent featured guest on such shows as Oprah, The Today Show, The View, NNC, CNN, Fox, PBS, and more than 200 other shows. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff continued to be a publishing phenomenon with more than 20 titles in the brand franchise, two of which were co-authored and authored with his beloved wife, Kris.

The words "don't sweat the small stuff" have become a part of American culture thanks to Richard Carlson's book, which became a runaway bestseller and made publishing history as the #1 best-selling book in the United States for two consecutive years. The book spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times Best-Seller list and is still considered one of the fastest selling books of all time and has sold more than 15 million copies worldwide.

In December 2006, Carlson died of a pulmonary embolism during a flight from San Francisco to New York, while on a promotion tour for his book Don’t Get Scrooged: How to Thrive in a World Full of Obnoxious, Incompetent, Arrogant and Downright Mean-Spirited People.

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5 stars
296 (37%)
4 stars
260 (33%)
3 stars
161 (20%)
2 stars
46 (5%)
1 star
24 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 112 reviews
Profile Image for Natali.
431 reviews303 followers
January 21, 2008
Kristine Carlson gave me this book when we were on a TV show together in San Francisco. We were both waiting for our appearance and she asked me if I was on a book tour too. I said no and asked her about her book. She said "My husband was an author and he wrote me a letter before he died. That is what the book is about." She said it so matter-of-factly and I thought, "How can she say something so sad in such a routine way?" I only spent 20 minutes with her but I was really impressed with her genuine spirit. She gave me a copy of her book and signed the inside. She wrote:

"Dear Natali, So nice running into you on KPIX! Treasure the gifts of life and love, Kris."

This book only took me half an hour to read. It is a beautiful reminder of how lucky we are to find love and friendship in our lives and how precious those relationships can be. I am grateful to have met Kristine and to have read her story at this junction in my life.
Profile Image for mandinmandin.
241 reviews44 followers
February 17, 2015
2015 Reading Challenge: A BOOK YOU CAN FINISH IN A DAY

This book was okay! I am one of those people who write letters. I always write letters to my sister for her birthdays and also wrote a couple letters to other dear members of the family. So I know what the author means by "What are you waiting for? Tell them what they mean to you." I just didn't enjoy it that much.
Profile Image for Anneena.
207 reviews23 followers
April 28, 2020
a sweet, beautiful and thoughtful read.
elegantly simple, yet it captured the essence of what it means to love, to be loved, and what it means to be human. truly words to live by.

“He questioned his mortality in order to live more fully in the present, as if each day was going to be his last.”
Profile Image for Katherine 黄爱芬.
2,032 reviews230 followers
January 6, 2022
Lebih ke epistolary sih mnrt aku. Saya gak nyangka aja Richard Carlson meninggal di usia yg relatif masih muda, 45 thn. Jadi buku ini lebih semacam kenang-kenangan istrinya kpd almarhum.
Profile Image for Rhonda.
299 reviews9 followers
February 29, 2008
This is a short read but very thought provoking. Richard Carlson, author of the "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" Series wrote a letter to his wife Kristine for their 18th wedding anniversary. The letter was prompted by the questions If you only had one hour to live and could only make one phone call who would you call? What would you say to that person? And Why are you waiting?
Richard answered these questions in a letter to his wife and then in December 2006 Richard Carlson suddenly passed away and left Kristine in a shambles so she looks back to all the letters written to her and decides to have this particular letter published so that Richard's fans could get more of an insight to him, and so that Kristine could gain the theraputic wisdom that comes from dealing with the loss of a loved one.
This really makes you think about your own life, which is what I am sure this story was intended for. It makes me want to examine my life and answer these questions.
Profile Image for Betsy.
269 reviews12 followers
September 6, 2012
This was truly a heartwarming story. The love letter to his wife on their 18th wedding anniversary about how much he loved her and how he would like to spend his last hour on earth was touching. It goes beyond his love for his wife, but more about how we should be living everyday of our lives. Living in the moment, having no regrets, and reminding those your care about how special they are to you is so important, because who knows when our last hour on earth will be.

The preface and interview with his wife added to the story. I had heard of the "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" books, but did not know the author had died suddenly and left a family behind. Hearing his wife reminisce about her husband and their lives together added to the depth of the message.
Profile Image for Tina.
27 reviews2 followers
May 17, 2012
This is a must read. Richard had a way of putting a positive perspective on YOUR here and now. And how to grasp life and run with it. After his most unfortunate and untimely death, his wife Kristine took his words directed to her and ran with it. Combining his and her ability to pass on their zeal for life and getting the most of it. Not only in the confines of this little masterpiece but in his "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" series & her version of DSTSS to women. The majority of mankind are looking to improve and get the most out of life. Here you have it. An easy, quick read that sums it all up beautifully and done so on such an intimate and personal level.
7 reviews
January 30, 2009
Another must read for everybody! Man, the things we humans waste our time, energy and worries on. This is the guy who wrote the "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" books (also wonderful) who tragically and ironically passed away suddenly...shortly after writing the first half of this book for his wife as an anniversary gift. She wrote the remainder (the 'Hour to Love' part) during her grieving process. They very candidly but lovingly put everything into perspective. This is a quick read...one that I picked up from the library...but what a treasure. It's a book I'd like to own.
Profile Image for Maria (Մարիա).
33 reviews50 followers
May 1, 2014
"An Hour to Live, an Hour to Love " is a touching, beautiful, and inspiring book. It emphasizes the importance of living every day of our life as though it was our last. The book gives you a pause to think about your own life and what you can do differently to get the most out of living.
I recommend it not only for couples. Anyone could benefit from the inspiring reminders of what is truly matters in life. Though it is sad, yet it is very uplifting.
Profile Image for Sara El-Kady.
46 reviews12 followers
May 10, 2010
it's so small yet touching book, I wouldn't say it's an eye opener but it was a good reminder to pay attention to those who matter the most in our lives, to ask for forgiveness from those we hurt and always express our love and care for the people that makes our lives better just by existing in it.
Profile Image for Yasmine Gaber.
5 reviews2 followers
April 1, 2014
As always, whenever I feel down, lost or tension, I read this book. Richrad's letter has whatever you are searching for. It reminds me that with all our struggles and plans and wishes, today and now is all we have.
382 reviews
February 24, 2009
Kristine Carlson writes a book in memory of her beloved husband and includes a beautiful letter that he wrote to her and her efforts to honor his life as she attempts to cope with his death.
129 reviews
February 6, 2015
"if you had one hour to live and could make just one phone call, who would it be to, what would you say, and why are you waiting?"
Profile Image for Ashley Scott.
295 reviews14 followers
September 14, 2015
Just happened to find this when cleaning my room. I'm glad I did. A powerful look at what really matters in life, and how to survive grief after a tragic loss.
Profile Image for Melissa.
42 reviews
April 20, 2018
I read this book in about 15 minutes, but will be reflecting on it the rest of my life! It was an incredible reminder that LIFE IS SHORT. Make the most of it. Say what needs to be said. Love recklessly. Give lavish, genuine compliments and heartfelt appreciation. You never know when your last day may be, so you have to live everyday like it’s your last. Sound cliche? Definitely, but we all must take that mentality to heart and soul. Life flies by. Don’t look back wishing you were “More kind, generous, joyful, loving, patient, etc.” LIVE those things NOW. I wonder how revolutionary it would look for us if we all loved each day like it was our last? Let’s live more like that. Love now. Say kind words now. Hug now. Offer that appreciation now. Try new things now. Give now. It’s never wasted. And you never know when those opportunities will be swallowed up, like they were never there. So take advantage of them while you have the option to.

I would HIGHLY recommend you read the poem “Tomorrow Never Comes” by Norma Cornett Marek. Read that poem, reflect a bit, and go live life to your fullest.
Profile Image for Liz Cleland.
75 reviews7 followers
April 12, 2014
An hour to Live, an hour to die was another book I read this week. This was a read on my list to read personally. I was intrigued by Happy Wives Club mentioning this, so I checked it out at the Library. This story is a letter collection given to Kristine Carlson by her husband on their 18th wedding anniversary. After reading this she asked him was he terminally ill. In response he says no but our true love inspires me. He writes that she is the person he would call if he had one hour to live. He writes to her all the reasons he loves her and admires her. After the book is published he starts to promote this book to millions. As he is away, unexpectedly he dies suddenly.

She only has this to help her through her grief and loss. I would say this is an inspiring yet sad book. Easy read and definitely a great inspiration to live "One day at a time".

My Rating is ☆★★★★.
Profile Image for Natalie Justice.
5 reviews2 followers
February 6, 2008
I saw this book on Oprah. When I went out to buy the book it was sold out at 5 book stores. The book is only about 40 pages but it is wonderful. Richard Carlson, author of the "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" series, died last year. His wife published a letter that he gave her on their 18th wedding aniversary. It is the most beautifully written letter and it makes you want to be a better person. After reading this book I had the same feeling as I did when I finished "Tuesdays with Morrie"- It just makes you want to be a better person and not take things so seriously. It is a great half hour to hour read!
Profile Image for Wan Siti.
140 reviews8 followers
September 4, 2013
Sebuah buku yang membuka ruang PAUSE & REFLECT kepada diri dan hargai apa sahaja yang berhampiran dengan kita

* ibubapa
* anak
* adik-beradik
* sanak-saudara
* sahabat-karib
* rakan-sekerja
* pekerja/staf
* jiran
dan sesiapa dan apa sahaja yang berkaitan dengan hidup kita.
REHAT dan imbas semula << MUHASABAH >>

.... the key to a good life is:
If you're not going to talk about something during the last hour of your life,
then don't make it A TOP PRIORITY during your LIFETIME.

have obligations, responsiblities, goals, and priorities that are relevant,
such as our,

we have GOALS, DREAMS, and OBSTACLES to overcome.
Profile Image for Lulla Labbyu.
38 reviews
July 28, 2015
It was a quick read. This is a letter after all so I didn't expect a lot from it. It does make me stop and reflex on myself, asking myself how to really love fully and live presently. I adored the Calsons' love. I will be making a list of what my priorities should be at the moment. Recently I've been struggling with the thought of should I just go for what makes me feel happy anyways or should I just stay calm because I sure know it is risky than what I thought. Maybe after this I decide to let the cat out of the bag anyways. To express lovingness is always blissful, isn't it?
39 reviews
September 1, 2008
Quick read! A letter from the author to his wife on their 18th anniversary. He died three years later. I love the great reminders to enjoy the gift of life every day. He said, "If you're not going to talk about something during the last hour of your life, then don't make it a a top priority during your lifetime." After he died she, "Vowed never to sleepwalk through life again. Life goes on for the fully awake."
Profile Image for Faterider.
81 reviews2 followers
September 5, 2018
Kristine Carlson wrote some interesting thoughts in her letter, including the idea of "bliss in the face of immeasurable suffering and gain through loss". I have previously equated death with grief and pain and suffering, so it was a thought-provoking perspective for me and deserved some pondering over. I just think that I would have preferred this book better if Kristine had wrote a letter addressed to her husband rather than us, her readers.
Profile Image for Lindsay Murphy.
22 reviews4 followers
September 20, 2008
Balled my eyes out. This was written by Richard Carlson's wife. He wrote all the "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" books, and for one of their anniversaries, he wrote her the most amazing letter. After he passed away, she decided to publish his letter. Beware, you will want your loved one to do something like this!
152 reviews8 followers
December 4, 2008
I thought this would be more about Richard Carlson's life. He's the author of the Don't Sweat the Small Stuff books and died 2006.
It was more a love letter to his wife. I think she wrote it to be cathartic. It didn't do anything for me.
Profile Image for Mary Kenyon.
Author 15 books115 followers
July 25, 2017
Wonderful tribute to her husband and all he stood for. Gift book size. The only drawback is I wanted more. Would love to see Kristine write a book expanding on this topic. Glad to see she has a blog I can follow.
Profile Image for Anand.
Author 1 book5 followers
January 14, 2018
Must read. A short yet worth reading to remind the value of incredible gift of life and loved ones:)

“If you had one hour to live and could make just one phone call, who would you call? What would you say? Why are you waiting?”~Richard Carlson (quote from the book).
36 reviews
June 1, 2018
Inspiring book!

As a coordinator for our GriefShare ministry I love reading about love, life and those who are navigating the valley of loss. This is a great book because it covers all these topics eloquently.
178 reviews
September 17, 2018

Wonderful book, with lots of important points! In the microwave society, so many are rushing through life and not enjoying what they have, not having fulfilling relationships, this book exemplifies the importance of living in the now
1,063 reviews
May 5, 2019
Book ,I'm sure I've read this book before and I'm sure I will read it again. It is a short book that only takes an hour to read and it is worth every minute of your time to read it. So much food for thought!
Profile Image for Simon.
878 reviews7 followers
October 8, 2017
It was sad since the author died and his wife finished the book.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 112 reviews

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