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

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  18,511 Ratings  ·  2,900 Reviews
The astonishing New York Times bestseller that chronicles how a brain scientist's own stroke led to enlightenmentOn December 10, 1996, Jill Bolte Taylor, a thirty-seven- year-old Harvard-trained brain scientist experienced a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. As she observed her mind deteriorate to the point that she could not walk, talk, read, write, or r ...more
Hardcover, 184 pages
Published May 14th 2008 by Viking Adult (first published 2006)
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Sep 17, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 27, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  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
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 16, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 12, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 09, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 27, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Bonnie Jean
Feb 14, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Linda Robinson
Dec 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, brains
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
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
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
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
Feb 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, 2013, susan
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
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
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
Aug 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: skimmed, science
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.
This book basically has 3 parts: part neuroscience primer, part memoir, and part self-help book. My 3-star rating is an average of my ratings for these 3 parts (I'd give 2.5 if I could).

The book starts with a few chapters giving some basic background on brain science. I've studied quite a bit of neuroscience and didn't feel like I needed the refresher, so I just skimmed over them. They seemed to be written in a way that would be accessible to the average reader.

I found the middle section of the
Nov 26, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 15, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
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 surroundi ...more
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Play Book Tag: My Stroke of Insight / Jill Bolte Taylor. 4 stars 6 24 Jan 08, 2017 08:29PM  
Play Book Tag: My Stroke of Insight / Jill Bolte Taylor. 4 stars 1 8 Jan 06, 2017 08:47PM  
He has researched the brain Neuro3X 1 15 Oct 21, 2014 02:20AM  
thanks 5 106 Feb 07, 2013 08:56PM  
Huntsville-Madiso...: Staff Picks -- My Stroke of Insight 1 9 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.

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“Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated.” 71 likes
“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.” 71 likes
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