“Both timeless and timely, this is a book of wisdom and wonder” (Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of March), a deeply personal exploration of what can sustain us through our darkest moments.

“What has fascinated and sustained me over these last few years has been the notion that we have the ability to find, nurture, and carry our own inner, living light—a light to ward off the darkness. This is not about burning brightly; it’s about yielding a more simple phosphorescence—being luminous, having stored light for later use. Staying alive, remaining upright, even when lashed by doubt.”
After surviving a difficult heartbreak and battle with cancer, acclaimed author and columnist Julia Baird began thinking deeply about how we, as people, persevere through the most challenging circumstances. She started to wonder, when we are overwhelmed by illness, loss or pain, or a tragedy outside our control: How can we keep putting one foot in front of the other? Baird went in search of the magic that fuels the light within—our own phosphorescence. In this stunning book, she reflects on the things that lit her way through the darkness, especially the surprising strength found in connecting with nature and not just experiencing awe and wonder about the world around her, but deliberately hunting it, daily.
Baird also writes about crossbeams of resilience: nurturing friendships and a quiet faith, pursuing silence, fighting for what she believes in, the importance of feeling small, learning from her mother's example of stoic grace. She also explores how others nurture their inner light, interviewing the founder of the modern forest therapy movement in Tokyo, a jellyfish scientist in Tasmania, and a tattooed priest from Colorado, among others.
Weaving together candid and moving memoir with deep research and reflections on nature and the world around her, Baird inspires readers to embrace new habits and to adopt a phosphorescent outlook on life, to illuminate ourselves and our days—even in the darkest times.
“Julia Baird is an alchemist, turning the dross of her life’s harshest blows into shimmering prose. Ravaged by a broken heart and debilitating cancer, she undertakes a careful examination of what might yet sustain her. Both timeless and timely, this is a book of wisdom and wonder.”—Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of March and Caleb’s Crossing

“Julia Baird’s glorious and gorgeous memoir glows with wisdom and glitters with merriment. This beautiful book is a light in the darkness.”—Sy Montgomery, author of How to Be a Good Creature

“This book is a love letter to the world by a brilliant writer who nearly left it. Julia Baird has gone into the depths of human experience—her own, and others’—and come back with this luminous and profound celebration of people and the planet. Phosphorescence is a treasure to read and re-read your whole life.”—Anna Funder, author of All That I Am and Stasiland

“I loved this book. A cupped hand full of light in a darkened world. A collection of glittering curios. I’ll hold it close in trying times.”—Cal Flyn, author of Islands of Abandonment

Phosphorescence is that rare thing: a book that reminds the reader that change is possible, and that hope is not a luxury but an imperative. Compassionate, expansive, and rigorous, it is a marvel.”—James Bradley, author of The Resurrectionist

“This book is beautiful. It is absolutely my kind of book. A book of tough hope. A light in the dark. A thing of beauty. Phosphorescence itself. [Julia Baird] has been to the tough edges and gives us light. She writes like a dream. Life, nature, hope. You should treat yourself.”—Matt Haig, author of The Midnight Library

“Emotional, introspective . . . It’s impossible to read this book and not sense a shift in one’s thinking about happiness, joy, and a range of other emotions.”Kirkus Reviews

“[A] poignant combination of self-help, memoir, and scholarly enlightenment . . . Baird brings a shimmering intimacy to a universal condition, a beacon of light that both blazes with intensity and bathes with comforting reassurance.”Booklist