The Best of the Worst News: Tales of Inspiration from Around the World and My Life with ALS

Tales of Inspiration from Around the World and My Life with ALS

Non-Fiction - Inspirational
324 Pages
Reviewed on 01/31/2020
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Author Biography

Long before ALS turned his world upside down, Norman MacIsaac used to travel the world supporting local efforts to fight poverty and injustice. He has lived and worked in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. He has been a leader in the field of international development and a critical voice arguing against top-down development. His 2019 TEDx Talk in Montreal, “Surthriving with ALS: Lessons from international development” argues in favour of the tremendous potential of local initiatives and authentic grassroots voices in the struggle for a more just world, be it to combat poverty or to access innovative new treatments for ALS.

He has long been recognized as a talented writer, and has authored quite a number of articles, papers and chapters in his field of expertise. Since his diagnosis with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease), he has dedicated himself to writing exclusively on topics about which he is resolutely passionate. His 2019 book, The Best of the Worst News: Tales of Inspiration from Around the World and My Life with ALS, intertwines autobiographical tales spanning five continents, and as many decades--stories that are in turn touching, humorous, witty, heartbreaking, and always uplifting and inspiring.

Norman MacIsaac lives in Montreal, Canada with his wife of 33 years. He has two sons and one daughter.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite

The Best of the Worst News: Tales of Inspiration from Around the World and My Life with ALS by Norman MacIsaac is a memoir that will bring tears to the reader’s eyes and fire them up as they read the ordeal that the author went through when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—also known as Lou Gehrig’s or Motor Neuron Disease. Alone, the news was heartbreaking, even crushing, and the thought that his days were numbered and that his disability would eventually get worse a troubling one. But this diagnosis, instead of crushing the author, started him on a journey to reconnect even more deeply with himself, a journey towards finding meaning. And that is how he takes the reader on a voyage of discovery across countries and continents.

While this is a personal account of how one man dealt with a terminal illness, it is a story that reads like an allegory of our human experience. As I read this book, the thought of my mortality deepened and I grew in the consciousness that one day I will experience weakness. The question is: How do I face my mortality? The Best of the Worst News: Tales of Inspiration from Around the World and My Life with ALS is a story of resilience and hope that carries a powerful message — life isn’t done until we take the final breath. Norman MacIsaac’s experiences are inspiring, his writing a gift that needs to be shared and his strong spirit an invitation to readers to face life with trust and openness. A wonderful book and one of the best memoirs I have read in a while.

Christian Sia

The Best of the Worst News: Tales of Inspiration from Around the World and My Life with ALS by Norman MacIsaac is a poignant story of a man who is diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and how this news changed his life. In this book, the author takes readers on the journey of living with the disease and adapting, of the search for perspective, wisdom, and strength. In this book are stories that take readers around the world with the protagonist and challenge them to embrace life with some spirit and positivity.

The Best of the Worst News opens with a preface that introduces the reader to the premise: “I was alone on that icy cold day in December 2014 when I received my worst news.” While he had been having the symptoms, on this fateful day Norman MacIsaac finally confirmed that he was actually suffering from a terminal illness that would eventually make him more and more disabled. What do you do when you know that you have just a few years to live? In this book, the author shows readers what he did — pursuing his travels and his search for meaning and answers. Follow him to the Himalayas, to Mumbai, to the African savannah as he rediscovers himself in exploring unique elements of the earth. In this book, the author captures his pain and his hidden joys and communicates a hope that empowers readers to rise above the limitations that life places in their path. It is emotionally strong, psychologically engaging, and filled with powerful insights about life. The Best of the Worst News is engrossing and written in a voice that is confident and compelling.

K.C. Finn

The Best of the Worst News is a work of non-fiction and personal narrative, penned by author Norman MacIsaac. Subtitled ‘Tales of Inspiration from Around the World and My Life with ALS,’ the stories included in this heartfelt volume recount the travels of its author from North America over to Asia and Africa, and many more places. When the author received the terminal diagnosis from the degenerative condition ALS, he began a search for inspiration and meaning in life, and so he invites readers into his world and into the details of how the condition has affected him psychologically and emotionally.

This continent-spanning life story is both enriching in its travel writing aspects, but also in its autobiographical and emotive qualities. It is quite incredible to journey with author Norman MacIsaac, who had many of his globetrotting adventures before his diagnosis was given, but now looks back over lessons that were learned during that time with a fresh and inspirational perspective. The narration is superbly upbeat for the most part, guiding readers through some amazing places in the world and what the people and cultures there have to teach. And then there are amazing moments of poignancy and clarity in which MacIsaac gives us the bare reality of living with ALS, raising awareness on the immense need for continued research and improved access to innovative treatments. Overall, The Best of the Worst News is an important read that everyone should pick up to raise their own awareness about the world around them.

mofoso

My first symptoms of ALS occurred in 2011, but was diagnosed in 2013. I had severe symptoms ranging from shortness of breath, balance problems, couldn't walk without a walker or a power chair, i had difficulty swallowing and fatigue. I was given medications which helped but only for a short burst of time, then i decided to try alternative measures and began on ALS Formula treatment from Akanni herbal centre t, It has made a tremendous difference for me (Visit www. akanniherbalcentre .com). I had improved walking balance, increased appetite, muscle strength, improved eyesight and others.

mofoso

My first symptoms of ALS occurred in 2011, but was diagnosed in 2013. I had severe symptoms ranging from shortness of breath, balance problems, couldn't walk without a walker or a power chair, i had difficulty swallowing and fatigue. I was given medications which helped but only for a short burst of time, then i decided to try alternative measures and began on ALS Formula treatment from Akanni herbal centre t, It has made a tremendous difference for me (Visit www. akanniherbalcentre .com). I had improved walking balance, increased appetite, muscle strength, improved eyesight and others.

Jean Laflamme

Norman MacIsaac is a talented writer who's lived a fascinating life all around the globe. His memoir is engaging, inspiring and often hilarious. The Best of the Worst News is all about daring to see the positive in the worst possible turn of events. I highly recommend it!

Louis Black

The Best of the Worst News is inspired by a life of travel before and after the author was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. A compelling and inspiring read, the book takes you all around the world where the author shares his unique perspective on what he's learned about living the best even after you're slapped in the face with a diagnosis that would be anyone's worst case scenario. It's optimistic, heart-warming and funny. I recommend this book to anybody who loves good writing, travel and learning a positive new perspective on life, whether you are living with ALS or not.

Anna Locke

A delightful read, extremely well written and thoroughly engaging. Frankly, when my book club chose this book, "The Best of the Worst News: Tales of Inspiration from around the World and my Life with ALS", I was worried that this might be depressing. In fact, it's anything but. It's tender, humorous and inspiring. It's a book everyone should read for the sheer pleasure of reading this page turner, and also as a tool to examine one's own life. The stories that Norman MacIsaac shares are the product of an extraordinary life, and a positive perspective that will leave you smiling and motivated to live in what the author calls "the here and now". Highly recommended.

Richard V,

This book is an absolute must! In the tradition of "Tuesdays With Morrie", "The Best of the Worst News: Tales of Inspiration from Around the World and My Life with ALS " is not about the disease, it's about making the most of life and finding the beauty in everything. It's funny, heartwarming, and chock-a-block with intertwined biographical tales from the four corners of the world. A superbly written page-turner with a compelling voice, it's difficult to put down. It will inspire you and change your perspective on all the bad news in your life.

Sarah Duvalier

This isn't a book about an illness; it's a book about life. I was truly inspired by the author's tales from around the world. Norman MacIsaac is a talented author who has penned a real page-turner. Highly recommended!