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List o’ Books: Neuroscience and Neurological Illness

November 19, 2010

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On my post about preferring booklists to challenges last week, Laura answered my call for booklist requests. She said:

Your post asking about topics for booklists got me thinking…I work as an editor at a non-profit professional association that supports neurologists. We have a number of staff but no neurologists that actually work for the association. Much of the work that we do directly affects neurologists and the patients they care for, but many staff members don’t have direct experience with neurology or neurological illness. I have recently started a book club for staff members to become more familiar with these issues. […]We recently had our first meeting, where we discussed “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” by Oliver Sacks. I am looking for other books (either fiction or nonfiction) that deal with neurological illness in some way. Some ideas that I’ve had so far: “Still Alice” by Alice Genova, “The Wilderness” by Samantha Harvey, but I’m not sure what else is out there.
The main neurological illnesses that we deal with are Parkinson’s Disease, epilepsy, headache/migraine, dementia/Alzheimer’s, stroke, autism, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, essential tremor, etc. 

Well of course I was interested! ;) I’m often drawn towards neuroscience-related popular nonfiction (in fact, I was reading Soul Made Flesh at the time) and I adore Oliver Sacks. At the same time, I’m not well-versed at all on neurological illnesses, so this presented a fun research opportunity. I might have gone a bit overboard in my enthusiasm, but I hope this is helpful Laura! Have fun with your bookclub: it sounds like a great idea. :)

Let’s start with the books that immediately popped into my head, either because I’ve already read them or they’re popular enough that I’ve heard of them! I know you’ve already read one of Oliver Sacks books, but I feel it’d be remiss of me not to point out that he has other relevant titles: Migraine, An Anthropologist on Mars (title essay looks specifically at autism), The Island of the Colorblind (looks at an illness found in Guam that resembles Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s), and Awakenings (looks at survivors of sleeping-sickness who are briefly brought ‘awake’ by a new drug). Speaking of that last one, I read a wonderful medical history book earlier this year that looks specifically at the epidemic of sleeping sickness, aka encephalitis lethargica, that broke out during WWI: Asleep by Molly Caldwell Crosby (you can read what I thought if you’d like to know more). I’ve read some of Anne Fadiman’s other nonfiction but have yet to get to her best-known title: Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. This looks at a Hmong family living in the US whose daughter starts having the symptoms of epilepsy, and the culture clash between the family’s beliefs and the American medical establishment. In my experience Fadiman’s writing style is powerful and moving, so I imagine this would be an excellent read. If you’re interested in more case studies by neuroscientists, you might look into: VS Ramachandran’s Phantoms in the Brain, which I read last year. Personally, I didn’t find it as enjoyable as Sacks, but it was still interesting. I’ve been eyeing Another Day in the Frontal Lobe, a collection of case studies by neurosurgeon Katrina Firlik for awhile now: only 5% of neurosurgeons are women. There are two well-known memoirs by stroke victims: the French Jean-Dominique Bauby’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which was dictated by left eyelid blinks due to his “locked-in syndrome” and the American neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor’s My Stroke of Insight, which details her actual stroke experience and the eight years she spent getting her brain to recover. Speaking of patient memoirs, I’d be remiss not to mention Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet, which is subtitled Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant. On the fiction side of things, the only book that sprung to mind was Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a novel narrated by a teenage boy with autism.

That might be enough to get you started, but I decided to dig deeper and I came across quite a few titles! I’ve divided them up into a few groups; let’s begin with nonfiction.

First up are patient-memoirs; I came across ones for several of the illnesses you mentioned.

Then there are memoirs by relatives of patients; these I only found for Alzheimer’s and autism.

Next up are neurology books written by scientists or doctors for a general audience.

Finally, some nonfiction I came across that are relevant, but didn’t fit neatly into one of the categories.

Ready for the fiction? As I mentioned above, nothing immediately came to mind, so I did some searches in my library catalogue to see what came up. I had no idea what type of fiction your book club might enjoy, so I tried to include a variety of styles/genres. This is divided up by the illness present. (I haven’t read any of these though!)



Muscular Dystrophy:



Other fiction, that’s still relevant just not as easy to pop into a category:

Have you read any of these? Any other suggestions for Laura?

82 Comments leave one →
  1. November 19, 2010 7:52 am

    What a fabulous list, Eva! I’d add to it Siri Hustvedt’s The Shaking Woman or a History of My Nerves. It’s all about the sudden attack of uncontrollable shaking that overcomes her when delivering a speech about her late father. She thinks it’s a one-off – until of course it happens again. Then she goes on a journey through neuroscience and psychiatry to try to find a solution and a cure. It’s quite densely written in places but always interesting and involving.

    • November 20, 2010 4:36 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion: it sounds fascinating!

  2. November 19, 2010 7:56 am

    Wow, what a list. I don’t have anything to add to it unfortunately, but I have quite a lot I’d like to read from it. I’ve read The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and it was incredibly sad and moving – I think it would definitely give anyone dealing with a victim of severe stroke another look at how they’re feeling inside when they can barely move on the outside. I know my mom and my grandma both liked the Jenny McCarthy book, but haven’t read that myself.

    • November 20, 2010 4:37 pm

      I’m glad you’d recommend The Diving Bell and the Butterfly! I’ve been curious about it, but I’ve also been worried that it would make me too sad.

  3. November 19, 2010 8:21 am

    Great list! I scrolled through making sure you included Losing My Mind. One of the best memoirs I have ever read, no matter the subject. So heartbreaking and honest. There’s also a follow-up called When It Gets Dark. I haven’t read it yet, but plan on it!

    • November 20, 2010 4:38 pm

      Oh, yay! I’m glad to hear that other people have actually read some of the books on the list and that they liked them. :) Now I really want to read Losing My Mind!

  4. November 19, 2010 8:49 am

    These lists remind me a little of Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust, I gotta say–but you’re more organized and in-depth about it!

    • November 20, 2010 4:39 pm

      lol! Well, I’ve read all of the Book Lust series (although I’ve realised Pearl and I have very different taste, so I’m hesitant to actually follow through with her recs), but I hope it doesn’t come off as toooo copy-cat. After all, there are only so many ways to structure a booklist!

  5. November 19, 2010 8:51 am

    Wow, this is quite a list! My family has a rather deep history of Mental Health Fun (mostly the common bi-polar, ADHD, OCD, Parkinson’s, ect.) so I’ve always been interested in neuroscience. Lately, though I’ve become much more aware of the wide age range mental health concerns and considerations span. I am working in preschool, right now and it’s amazing how much we know, so early about things we used to just toss by the wayside. Early approaches to ADD, Autism, etc. are all the talk of the field, right now, as is to be expected. Thanks for this list. While we’re off for the holiday, I might check a few of these out.

    • November 20, 2010 4:40 pm

      How interesting! I’m glad that the awareness is increasing; let’s hope that that helps education/these kids as a whole. :)

  6. November 19, 2010 8:59 am

    What a fantastic list! You just added a lot to my own TBR. I’ve read a few of the Oliver Sacks books, and the Temple Grandin ones, they’re all fascinating. I’d add in two memoirs I’ve read about people who had cerebral palsy: Karen by Marie Killilea and I Raise My Eyes to Say Yes by Ruth Sienkiewicz-Mercer.

    • November 20, 2010 4:41 pm

      I thought of you w/ the Grandin books since she’s so interested in animals! Thanks for the suggestions; I didn’t include cerebral palsy because Laura didn’t include it in her comment, but looking back I can see that was an oversight!

  7. November 19, 2010 9:00 am

    I love, love your list of books. Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down is an unforgettable nonfiction book. I will never forget the plight of those patients from a different culture. Your blog page and thoughts are extraordinary. Thanks for a much needed list.

  8. November 19, 2010 9:16 am

    This book list reminded me of a book I read in junior high called Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman. It’s a YA book narrated by a teenage boy with cerebral palsy. I’m not necessarily recommending this book, because I don’t remember much in it that could be considered educational. But it was definitely interesting to read a book narrated by a boy who couldn’t communicate his thoughts in any way to the world around him.

    • November 20, 2010 4:42 pm

      I’m glad to see another cerebral palsy rec, since I completely forgot about it! (Can you tell I’ve not got a big background in the area? There were so many books, I just focused on the illnesses Laura mentioned and called it a day.)

  9. November 19, 2010 10:08 am

    Eva, great list, great recommendations. The first one I thought about was The Curious Case… and I’m glad to see you have it up there. How about One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?

    Joanna at “It’s All about me” and I have also been thinking about reading by topics and decided to co-host a “read by theme” reading challenge. We’ve just up the announcement post today. We thought it was appropriate, especially considering you previous post on it.

    • November 20, 2010 4:44 pm

      You know, I didn’t include books about insanity/mental health institutions, just because my list was already so long & I’m sure a look at those topics would have doubled it. :) But One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a classic for sure!

      The read by a theme challenge sounds like fun: I’ll be checking out the participants’ lists. :)

  10. November 19, 2010 10:19 am

    Great list, Eva! I forwarded it along to a friend of mine that is pre-med and interested in neurology. I’m sure she’ll have great fun with it.

  11. November 19, 2010 10:23 am

    Wow, great list! I think I’ll have to add ‘the human brain’ to the themes I want to explore next year! Especially since I’ve never read anything by Oliver Sachs and that makes me sad.

    • November 20, 2010 4:45 pm

      I LOVE Oliver Sacks, he’s one of my very favourite authors ever, so you’re in for a treat. :)

  12. November 19, 2010 12:05 pm

    Wow, what a list!

  13. November 19, 2010 12:27 pm

    I see I’m not the only commenter thinking about cerebral palsy. I recommend Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper, which is an excellent YA novel about a girl who is brilliant, but stuck in her own mind. My review is here:

    House Rules by Jodi Picoult is a novel about autism that the Book Buddies discussed online:

    About the time my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the 1990s, I read Shades of Grace by Barbara Delinsky. I remember reading carefully to see how Grace’s symptoms paralleled my mother’s.

    From your list, I’ve read The Curious Incident of he Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (autism), Heartsongs by Mattie J. T. Stepanek (muscular dystrophy), The Cigar Roller by Pablo Medina (stroke), The Distinguished Guest by Sue Miller (Parkinson’s), The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (Parkinson’s), and Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry (Parkinson’s), which I reviewed here:

    • November 20, 2010 5:23 pm

      Thanks for the recs and links Bonnie! And yep: I’m feeling a bit silly for overlooking cerebral palsy. But that’s what makes book blogging great: the community adds so much. :D

  14. November 19, 2010 12:33 pm

    I haven’t read many on your list but The Curious Case… and Saturday were outstanding.

    If you want a legal/mystery, Personal Injuries by Scott Turow has a major character dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

    For the patient’s experience, as classic is The Snake Pit by Mary Jane Ward, although I don’t think the problem there was neurological.

  15. November 19, 2010 12:42 pm

    I was very excited, because for once I thought I would have a suggestion for you! There is a fictional work about an alzheimer patient in Dutch literature, which I read in one day and I remember that by the end of that day I felt like I was thinking in the way that the patient is described as thinking.. There were some moments in the book that I hated, but overall the book made an impression on my 16 year old self..

    The book is called “hersenschimmen”, the only English translation I have been able to find is called “Out of Mind” and is apparently out of print.. Sorry for getting your hopes up! I really thought I would have a recommendation this time :)

    • November 20, 2010 5:26 pm

      Aww: I’m sorry it’s not easily available here in English! But that’s neat that it affected you so much. :)

  16. November 19, 2010 12:59 pm

    Wonderful list, Eva! I have to make a ‘TBR’ list out of your suggestions, now :) I really want to read Oliver Sacks’ ‘An Anthropologist in Mars’, Jean-Dominique Bauby’s ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’, Andrew Levy’s ‘A Brain Wider than the Sky’, Patricia Carlson’s ‘The Whispering Wall’ (that is a really interesting plot!) and E.L.Swann’s ‘Night Gardening’ (beautiful story!).

    Thanks a lot for writing this post and making our ‘TBR’ list longer :)

    • November 20, 2010 5:26 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed it…and I can’t even say I’m sorry to make your TBR list longer. ;)

  17. November 19, 2010 1:24 pm

    Although I recently completed my B.A. English (thanks for you recent congratulations!), I am also a nurse. My area of experience is in dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s Disease. Once in a while, I like to read a book (non-fiction or fiction) about personal experiences with the disease. One book that I have read more than once is called “Still Alice” my Lisa Genova. The author is a neuroscientist, so both the book and the author seem to fit in with the theme of this post.
    Here is a link to an interview with her and a review of the book:

    • November 20, 2010 5:27 pm

      Thanks for the suggestions & link Karenne!

  18. November 19, 2010 1:29 pm

    WOW, great list! There are a couple on here I’ve been wanting to read (especially The Diving Bell and the Butterfly–loved the movie). Now I have even more to add to my TBR pile…thanks a lot. :p

    • November 20, 2010 5:27 pm

      lol: glad you enjoyed the list Melissa! ;)

  19. November 19, 2010 2:53 pm

    Terrific list. Suddenly my TBR list is a good chunk longer! You could also add the following:

    Jill Bolte Taylor’s My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, about her experience of having a stroke at the age of 37.

    Also non-fiction by Norman Doidge, written in an accessible style: The Brain That Changes Itself, about neuroplasticity (first-time readers on the subject would appreciate this one, as well as fans of Oliver Sacks’ work).

    And for fiction, about Alzheimers, Samantha Harvey’s The Wilderness (beautifully done, short-listed for the Orange Prize last year).

    • November 20, 2010 5:39 pm

      Thanks for the suggestions! :) That Doidge sounds interesting, since I’m a huge Sacks fan.

  20. November 19, 2010 3:05 pm

    Awesome, nerdy list Eva! :) I was really excited to see Sachs new book (that is, new in bookstores over here), The Mind’s Eye.

    I haven’t read that many neuroscience novels. Does Tourette count? Then I think Motherless Brooklyn would count, it’s also a great detective story. My favorite neuro topic is amnesia, even though it might have become cliché of a story device, I can’t help it.

    • November 20, 2010 5:40 pm

      I’m excited about Sack’s new book too! It looks so great. :D Thanks for the rec on Tourette’s: I didn’t look into it since Laura didn’t mention it, but I imagine that’d be a fascinating reading topic! (I have read at least one essay by Sacks on it, I think.)

      I don’t believe I’ve read a book about amnesia since I was in elementary school! What are your faves?

      • November 21, 2010 6:35 am

        I’m gonna have to look for that essay! There’s so much amnesia lit, be careful what you get your tbr into! ;) I love how amnesia allows writers to explore the connection of memory and identity.
        One of my favorites is Krauss’ Man Walks into a Room, Philip K. Dick uses amnesia in most of his stories (Total Recall, Out of Joint), The Raw Shark Texts (but you have to really be into postmodernism for that one), The Clergyman’s daughter by Orwell, In the Lake in the Woods by Tim O’Brien. I’ve heard that in The Housekeeper and the Professor and Rebecca West’s Return of the Soldier feature amnesia or memory problems as well, haven’t read them yet though. There’s also an anthology edited by Jonathan Lethem, The Vintage Book of Amnesia, which might be a good introduction.
        I just noticed that my lists are mostly non-fiction and secondary lit, I’m blaming uni for that! :)

    • November 21, 2010 10:14 am

      Oh, I’m glad to learn that The Housekeeper and the Professor fits the list. It’s the book my online Book Buddies will be reading in December, and it’s time to get the book so I can start reading. Anyone reading this is welcome to join us:

  21. November 19, 2010 4:40 pm

    This is really comprehensive! I’m sure I’ll be returning to this post when I’m in the right mood. I do have fascination with memoirs about medical conditions.

  22. November 19, 2010 5:04 pm

    Wow, that’s quite a list. I clicked on Migraine. I have migraines like in the description but it might be over my head.

    I have a fiction suggestion for Migraine:

    The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe. The main character suffers from migraines which affect the plot.

    • November 20, 2010 5:41 pm

      All of the Sacks books that I’ve read are aimed at a popular/general audience, so while I haven’t read Migraine I’d bet it won’t be over your head. :) Thanks for the fiction suggestion!

  23. November 19, 2010 5:35 pm

    I’ve thought of another one: Icy Sparksby Gwyn Hyman Rubio is about a girl with Tourette’s Syndrome.

    • November 20, 2010 5:42 pm

      Oh: thanks for another neat sounding book Bonnie! :)

  24. November 19, 2010 8:40 pm

    Wow! That’s a really great list Eva! I’ll have to check out a few of them at some point.

  25. November 19, 2010 9:43 pm

    Holy cow, what a list! I haven’t read ANY of them! As for suggestions, I believe Still Alice by Lisa Genova is about a woman developing Alzheimer’s.

    • November 20, 2010 5:43 pm

      I’ve barely read any of them either Erin. :)

  26. Kaitlin permalink
    November 19, 2010 10:11 pm

    I was really excited to see Laura’s email. I have epilepsy and have done Q&A sessions with my neurologist’s med students for similar reasons — they know all about the medicine but have very little experience in relating to patients, and it comes back to bite them in their professional lives once they graduate.

    There aren’t a ton of books out there on epilepsy — Fadiman’s book comes up a lot when people first hear about my condition — but I would suggest the graphic novel “Epileptic” by David B. as well. It’s told from the point of view of a man who has watched his brother grow up with epilepsy, and I think it shows the disruption of chronic illness on a family quite well. I haven’t read it yet so I can’t speak as to its treatment of the condition, but this past year’s Pulitzer winner “Tinkers” by Paul Harding also features a son reflecting on his father’s epilepsy. If they’re looking for classics, Dostoevsky had temporal lobe epilepsy and his novels are littered with characters who experienced seizures like his. “The Idiot” is a title that springs to mind as a good example.

    • November 20, 2010 5:45 pm

      Hi Kaitlin! Thanks so much for the suggestions regarding epilepsy; I think I completely forgot to do a search on it in my library catalogue (like I did for the other illnesses). Whoops! I’m glad you had a few suggestions to fill in my blank.

      Also, that’s so nice of you to do sessions with med students! I should look into seeing if any of the med schools around here want a fibromyalgia patient to talk to.

  27. November 20, 2010 6:40 am

    I can’t add to your list but — WOW! I’m utterly impressed with this post. And there are quite a few titles that look interesting to me.

  28. November 20, 2010 7:20 am

    wow amazing list! I know you love Oliver Sacks so I should read some of those you mention.

    I’ve read one book that comes to mind about Alzheimer’s: THE MADONNAS OF LENINGRAD. I didn’t love it but it’s an interesting look at a child dealing with her mother’s increasing demential. It’s historical fiction as the mother flashsback to her time during the seige of Leningrad; it’s part of the dementia. Anyway, it’s interesting as the daughter is dealing with the increasing dementia.

    • November 20, 2010 8:07 am

      Oh, thanks, Rebecca. I had forgotten about The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean (Alztheimer’s). My review is here:

      Counting Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio (Tourette’s Syndrome) that I added in an earlier comment, I’ve read lots more on this subject than I realized.

    • November 20, 2010 5:45 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion Rebecca! I started reading Madonnas of Leningrad a couple of years ago, but I just couldn’t get into it. I forgot about the dementia bits though!

  29. November 20, 2010 8:41 am

    Thanks so much for your list! With an eight year old daughter with epilepsy, I’m always interested in finding reading material regarding her disorder. In particular I think your suggestion of Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down sounds like something I need to read.

    Before Garth Stein wrote the hugely popular Art of Racing in the Rain, he wrote How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets, which is a non-fiction book about a sort-of- successful musician dealing with epilepsy. Stein was also a filmaker and did a documentary called When Your Head’s Not a Head It’s a Nut, about his sister’s decision to undergo brain surgery to control her epilepsy.

    At home my daughter and I read the picture book Becky the Brave, A Story about Epilepsy, which helps her understand her condition a little better.

    • November 20, 2010 5:46 pm

      Hi Stephanie! I feel like such a ditz that I didn’t look up more epilepsy books: I managed to overlook it when I was doing my searches. But thanks for the recommendations: that Stein book and documentary both sound fascinating.

  30. November 20, 2010 9:27 am

    You are so great. I’ve bookmarked this page for the next time I’m in this kind of reading mood. Your list is fantastic! I am nonstop intrigued by the human brain and all its weird little functions and idiosyncrasies.

    (Isn’t Jenny McCarthy the one who thinks her kid got autism because of vaccines? In spite of all medical research to the contrary? That woman drives me insane.)

    • November 20, 2010 5:48 pm

      Thanks Jenny! Is that what McCarthy thinks? That’s annoying: I didn’t realise that. I thought I should include it since I imagine a lot of parents of autistic kids might have heard of it and read it, so it might be a good thing for the book club to read. In the awesome probability book I read earlier this year (Chances Are…), the authors explain why the stats re: vaccines and autism just don’t work.

  31. November 20, 2010 10:49 am

    Oh my good heavens. You just filled my nerdy little neuro major self with joy. Believe it or not, I’ve only read two of the books on this list. I think I’m turning this into my own personal “booklist challenge” to read all of these neuro books in the next few years. Thank you so much!! I am so excited. :)

    • November 20, 2010 5:48 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the list Lorren! Especially as a neuro major. :)

  32. November 20, 2010 11:07 am

    Oh and I forgot to mention – An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison, one of the leading pioneers in bipolar disorder, is a memoir about her own struggles with the disease.

    • November 20, 2010 5:49 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion! There are so many other neuro-related topics out there, I feel like I need to do 2 or 3 follow-up lists to even begin to cover them all. lol

  33. November 20, 2010 9:33 pm

    In addition to My Stroke of Insight and Still Alice, I’d read and recommended:

    Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robison (he’s Augusten Burrough’s brother, the one who wrote Running with Scissors)

    Where is the Mango Princess? A Journey Back from Brain Injury by Cathy Crimmins (her husband had a boat accident and suffered from Traumatic Brian Injury).

    I haven’t read this one yet but have borrowed from the library (fiction):
    The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey (Alzheimer’s)

    • November 22, 2010 11:39 pm

      Thanks for those suggestions Christa!

  34. jane permalink
    November 21, 2010 10:26 am

    This really IS an amazing resource!
    I kept thinking of things to add and then seeing that someone else had already added them – Siri Hustvedt’s The Shaking Woman was definitely in my mind.
    The one thing which should definitely be included for ANY lover of literature who is also fond of neuroscience, is Jonah Lehrer’s Proust was a Neuroscientist. I admit I have not read all of this book, it’s a collection of essays written by Lehrer about how, basically, Proust, Whitman, Woolf, Cezanne and a bunch of other artists actually “discovered” theories which it took science a very long time to catch up on. For instance, the title refers to the idea that Proust’s fluid, experience-based concept of memory is actually very accurate. We do learn by doing, and the brain is not just a store of memories, as easy and reliable to access as a library catalogue.
    I don’t agree with all the things that I have read in Lehrer’s book so far, and I think perhaps he’s a bit too concerned with simplifying things down. But he writes well and is a fantastically and sometimes quite intimidatingly intelligent guy. He did a joint major in neuroscience and english lit at Columbia.
    He has written a new book on decision-making which I have not read, but sounds great (NPR interview here:
    Interesting interview with him about the book here:
    and he also has a blog here on
    which makes very interesting reading for anyone interesting in neurology, cognition, decision-making and so on.

    Yikes, that’s a lot of links, sorry! I can’t wait to check out some more of the items on your list and in the comments – such an exciting and stimulating topic!

    • November 22, 2010 11:40 pm

      Thank you Jane! :)

      I’ve read Lehrer’s first book and I definitely loved it. I didn’t include it on this list since Laura sounded like she was mainly looking for books dealing with neurological illnesses, but now I think I’ll do another Neuroscience list looking at aspects of ‘healthy’ brains! Have you read Proust and the Squid? Another marvelous look at the neuroscience of reading. :)

  35. November 21, 2010 4:04 pm

    Love this list and I appreciate the time you put into it.

    I think The Spirit Catches you should be required reading for anyone who deals with populations from different cultures.

    I would also add Echo Maker by Richard Powers to your fiction list as it details the life of a patient suffering a particular memory disorder after an accident. I did not find it easy or fast read because of its depth but Powers very powerfully details the anguish of both the patient and those around him.

    • November 22, 2010 11:41 pm

      Thanks! Echo Maker sounds like a great novel, if a difficult one. Also, I’m tempted to do a list on the theme of cross-cultural stuff. It’s so rich! :)

  36. November 30, 2010 10:52 am

    Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X Stork is a great book about a teenage boy on the autism scale. I read it last year and thought it was quite good.

  37. December 5, 2010 7:13 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. My brother was diagnosed with a neurological illness, encephalitis, last month, and the events of the past 40 days have been very harrowing. To help him and myself, I had been looking for neurological books, preferably nonfiction, but haven’t had much time. I’m grateful for this list, because now I can’t wait to see what I can lay my hands on.

  38. param permalink
    March 18, 2011 2:49 am

    ..highly useful and excellent source..

  39. vicky permalink
    December 3, 2011 5:54 pm

    I was just told i have myotonic dystrophy. Im 58. I have read the 3 skating books by melissa lowell (On the edge. Now or never. Chance of a lifetime). They were good. I havent read the companion yet. I cant believe there are only 4 books on m-d. There must be more.

  40. September 15, 2012 1:00 am

    “The Echo Maker”, by Richard Powers is a wonderful novel (it won the US National Book Award for fiction in 2006) about a young man who suffers from Capgras Syndrome. In this disorder, the victim believes that people (and sometimes pets and even their own house) are imposters. So in the “The Echo Maker” after suffering a severe head injury, the protagonist believed his sister was an imposter. It is thought that this rare disorder occurs because the parts of the brain than recognise faces (and pets) has been disconnected from the part of the brain that experiences an emotional reaction. Thus the person sees his sister but because he doesn’t feel any emotional connection with her, he thinks she must be an imposter! I did a recent blog post on this on Psychology Today (

  41. September 18, 2014 9:53 am

    So INCREDIBLY fabulous to have found your blog!


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