Welcome friends! I have started this entry in the global technosphere because I have been in love with books since the age of 2. Among the busy business of being a new teacher, this is my outlet for sharing thoughts on a love of reading a wide variety of books. My inspiration can be summed up with a yearbook quote from a teacher written when I was 8: "To the only girl at recess I see reading a book. Good for you!"
My blog title is quoted from a classmate who asked me this once. Believe it or not, I've also heard it as a teacher :D

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat- Oliver Sacks

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters

Published:  1985
Length:  256 pages
ISBN:  9780684853949
Genre:  Nonfiction, Medical (Neurology)

Start date:  July 2010
Finished date:  July 2010

Where from:  Chapters-Indigo
Why Read:  Fascinating title & became interested from seeing Awakenings

Summary:  A nonfiction account of true case studies involving complex brain injuries or disorders that both challenge & baffle well-known neurologist Oliver Sacks as he attempts to diagnose, research, find precedent, treat, and either "cure" (though its a rare outcome) or at least pinpoint with assurance the cause & care that a patient requires.


I had heard of famed neurologist Oliver Sacks’s work with severe brain injuries, being best known for his miraculous Awakenings before attempting this instantly fascinating work.  I mean, the title alone has to interest you…how can that be, you think?  His insightful writing is a comfortable mix of medical jargon & human feeling, offering a series of case studies, including the titular character of Dr. P., whose visual agnosia (likely caused by a brain tumor) can describe but fail to identify basic objects or familiar people.

Other cases include a WWII veteran who cannot form new memories since 1945, a woman who cannot relate to her own body parts or even place them correctly, twin autistic savants who can name multi-digit prime numbers, and a medical student (whom Sacks later reveals to be his own case) who suffers from a highly sensitive sense of smell after taking a number of illicit drugs.

The stories are written like academic papers but go beyond his medical prognoses to offer human insights that he picks up from colleagues, mentors, and even the patients themselves. I appreciated Sacks’s candor about the case studies, and how he doesn’t leave a single unfamiliar term unexplained. Even if you have very little background in science, you will find yourself drawn into the stories and hoping a cause and/or cure can be found.

Rank:  (A)- Highly recommended


  1. This does sound interesting, but I wonder if it would be over my head since it's written like academic papers.

  2. Well, see here's the thing: It looks academic but Sacks writes it so anyone can get a good hold on his work. Maybe you can preview some of it on Amazon?

  3. This book sounds fascinating. And I love the title. It sounds like the author does a good job of balancing the medical with the human aspects in the book.

  4. no worries, oliver sacks is a wonderful writer. another good book is "anthropologist on mars" - it's a collection of his patients' stories.