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Open Heart

by Elie Wiesel

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16210137,882 (3.5)5
In this unforgettable book, the award-winning writer, during his recovery after a life-threatening heart surgery, reflected on his many losses and accomplishments, and on all that remained to be done, sharing his aspirations for his writings and his hope that he made the world a better place.
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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
This is a short discussion about Elie’s thoughts about life when he was faced with open heart surgery. He is a prolific writer and is famous for “Night.” This book is short and has limited content but is still worth the read. Elie is a Jew with a philosophical perspective on life that I appreciate. ( )
  GlennBell | Jul 10, 2021 |
Open Heart is an intimately honest account of Wiesel’s feelings and thoughts during a time when he wasn’t sure if he was going to live or die. As he faces his own mortality, he reflects on his choices and his conflicting emotions regarding God and his place in the world.

I was moved by the memoir. It’s simple and short, but contains a depth of emotion. I especially appreciated reading Wiesel’s regrets for not doing more and his ongoing questioning of religion. Even Wiesel, who has done so much, wants to do so much more with his life. It was nice to see even Wiesel questioning his choices, but it was also wonderful to see how he always turned to what gave him joy and what he thought were his successes. This book was quite comforting in that. I’m sure all of us could think back to things we wish we had done differently, or things we wish we understood better, but in the end, we can always turn to the things that we take joy and pride in.

Overall, this is a comforting memoir that shows just what it means to be faced with uncertainty. If you are at all a fan of Wiesel and his work, this is well worth the read.

Also posted on Purple People Readers. ( )
  sedelia | Jul 10, 2018 |
A beautiful book. Not as good to read (in my opinion) as another book I read (Night).
But most certainly a book that is thought provoking and interesting to read. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Feb 20, 2018 |
A wonderful (though very tiny) little book by Elie, essentially the ruminations of a person at the end of his life possibly on death's bed. I've always admired and loved the works of Elie Wiesel (and the man himself), and this is definitely no exception. A quiet, understated book about his reflections on his life, on his heart (and his looming heart-surgery, open heart bypass, and then the after-effects of it), his works, 'the event' (the Holocaust), survivors, and the Jewish tradition. It's both enlightening and sad to see a man as distinguished as Elie was, at the age of 82, and so close to death, questioning himself if he's done enough for his fellow survivors, if he's done enough to promote peace and stop hate and discrimination, and to just question his whole existence. But I think this is typical of all of us, and for those of us who haven't accomplished nearly 1/5th (or 1/100th) of what this great man has done, it's a bit of motivation for us to go out and do so much more, to try and live up to something of this level. ( )
  BenKline | May 14, 2017 |
Wiesel was a survivor of Auschwitz, a novelist, journalist, teacher and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. He died last year and though it has been many, many years since I read his work, I decided to pick up this very slim volume for the March selection of the non-fiction challenge. This month's theme is heroes and villains and he definitely falls into the Hero category, in my eyes.

This book was written shortly after his open heart bypass surgery in 2011 and in it, he once again confronts his own mortality and many of the big questions of life that he has been thinking and writing and teaching about all his life. This time, though, he is 82 years old and the perspective has changed. While I have always admired his humanity and his ability to have gratitude and optimism in the face of a world that seems to challenge the very meanings of those concepts, I still have a very difficult time with the *God* aspect of it all. I cannot understand how he can continue to be such a devoutly believing person, in spite of his own personal experiences. Yet, I had a sense that he knows there are no answers to his questions, but he is compelled to continue to ask. There were a few passages that I marked as a valiant attempt to perhaps explain to a non-believer such as myself and the words are, as expected from a man such as Wiesel, eloquent:

"I know - I speak from experience - that even in darkness it is possible to create light and encourage compassion. That it is possible to feel free inside a prison. That even in exile, friendship exists and can become an anchor. That one instant before dying, man is still immortal.

"There it is: I still believe in man in spite of man. I believe in language even though it has been wounded, deformed and perverted by the enemies of mankind. And I continue to cling to words because it is up to us to transform them into instruments of comprehension rather than contempt. It is up to us to choose whether we wish to use them to curse or to heal, to wound or to console.

"As a Jew, I believe in the coming of the Messiah. But of course this does not mean that the world will become Jewish; just that it will become more welcoming, more human. I belong, after all, to a generation that has learned that whatever the question, indifference and resignation are not the answer."

That last line rings especially true in my ears these days! And though I doubt I personally can ever be a believer, the last line of this book are words that could be a life lesson for many, and truly needed in the new world of 2017: "I know that eternities ago, the day after the liberation, when some of us had to choose between anger and gratitude, my choice was the right one."

This is why Elie Wiesel is a hero in my eyes. ( )
1 vote jessibud2 | Mar 7, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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In this unforgettable book, the award-winning writer, during his recovery after a life-threatening heart surgery, reflected on his many losses and accomplishments, and on all that remained to be done, sharing his aspirations for his writings and his hope that he made the world a better place.

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