Young mother’s story of living and dying is this reader’s pick


Sue Duronio is a Chapel Hill mother of three and an avid reader and book club member.

Recommended read: The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying” by Nina Riggs. It’s a beautiful and poetic set of essays about a woman’s life as a young mother with terminal cancer. It could have focused largely on the incredible sadness of a family dealing with terminal cancer, but instead it was uplifting and filled with light, humor and peace, and the joys in everyday living. I want to re-read it to gain more of the wisdom of this incredible woman. I cannot recommend it highly enough, if you love memoirs which I do.

Currently reading:The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley” by Hannah Tinti. Love coming-of-age stories wrapped in literary thriller styles!

Who or what taught you to love to read? My dad, who died in early 2016, passed on to me his love of reading. Both his parents were librarians. I am constantly thinking about my next favorite book and wishing I could share that with him still. He loved non-fiction, and one of our favorites was “A Civil Action” by Jonathan Harr. We love a great legal thriller.

What favorite book from your younger days have you kept? My favorite book from my early teen years that I still have and return to now and then is “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith.” It’s just a magical coming of age story that I consider among the best ever of that genre.

What is your favorite book that nobody’s heard of?The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow” by Rita Leganski. This is a story of a young boy who does not speak, with a gift for rarefied hearing. The story centers around his family life with his mother and two very different grandmothers and a few other strong women he encounters. There are elements of mysticism and the supernatural along with suspense, all of which I found completely alluring.

What movie was better than the book?Mystic River.” I loved the book but I actually felt more complexity of character watching Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon play these troubled souls on screen. Such an incredibly powerful and tragic story in so many ways.

Where do you go for book recommendations? I go to many places for recommendations, starting with my favorite independent bookstore, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill. I also love Oprah’s recommendations, Goodreads, and of course, my book club ladies and other friends.

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The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying

Nina Riggs

Simon & Schuster, 320 pages