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  • Writer's pictureArijit Bhattacharya

Famous Books by Dr. Oliver Sacks | A Brief Book Review

Dr. Oliver Wolf Sacks, a neurologist who contributed his whole career in neurological development and for the betterment of the society. Dr. Sacks shared his knowledge and experiences with the whole world through his beautiful writing.

On the day of his 88th birth anniversary I am dedicating this blog to him and here sharing a brief review of his famous books.

Happy reading…

“Migraine” (1970)

It is the first book written by Dr. Oliver Sacks. The book was written on 1967 and first published in 1970. The book consists of numerous case histories of his patients. The signs and symptoms of migraine was written in a simple and informative way for the common people’s understanding. The five section have explained almost everything about migraine.

Read the Book…

“Awakenings” (1973)

This is one of the most popular book written by Dr. Oliver Sacks. This book is based on Dr. Sacks’s experience and the life story of those patients who survived 1920’s Encephalitis Lethargica epidemic. The story reflects Dr. Sacks’s experiment with the drug “L-Dopa” which gifted a new life to those patients at the Beth Abraham Hospital in the Bronx, New York. The tragedy of the incident lead to making of the famous movie “awakenings” based on this book.

“A leg to Stand On” (1984)

This is the book where the doctor became a patient. After an accident Dr. Sacks started feeling legless which raised a question about the physical basis of identity in his mind. Dr. Sacks said, “ Here the roles were reversed and I was the patient myself, bewildered by an experience, a short of “alienation” of an injured leg, which I could not comprehend or communicated to my doctors. My only relief was to write about it”

Read The Book...

“The Man who Mistook His Wife For a Hat” (1985)

Sounds interesting right???

This is one of the bestselling book of that time. The book is based on some interesting case histories of Dr. Sacks’s patients. The book have twenty-four essays split into four sections, "Losses", "Excesses", "Transports", and "The World of the Simple". Each of these sections are based on a particular aspect of brain function. Title of the book is named after the 1st story which is about Dr. P ‘the man who mistook his wife for a hat’, the story of a patient with visual agnosia. Some other interesting stories include “The Man Who Fell out of Bed”, "The Twins", "The President's Speech" etc…

“Seeing Voices” (1989)

Weird Title!!! But it is one of those books which will open your eyes to a different world, "World of the Deaf”. Yes, this book is about the people who were unable to hear. It consists of historical and treatment approach of Deaf studies. This book is considered as one of the highly informative book by Oliver Sacks. It was described as "Extraordinarily moving and thought-provoking" book by publishers weekly.

“An Anthropologist on Mars” (1995)

Originally entitled “An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales” got published on 7th February, 1995. The book consists of seven historical and famous case studies of Dr. Sacks patients with common neurological disorders including Tourette Syndrome, Autism, Brain Tumor & amnesia etc. In this book Dr. Sacks concluded that "defects, disorders, and diseases... can play a paradoxical role, by bringing out latent powers, developments, evolution, forms of life that might never be seen, or even be imaginable, in their absence". Some famous stories of this book includes, "To See and Not See", “ A Surgeon’s wife”,"Prodigies" etc….

“The Island of the Colorblind” (1997)

This book is about achromatopsia which is a total colour blindness on Pingelap Atoll, a Micronesian island in the South Pacific. The book consists of lots of mystery about an isolated community of islanders who all were born totally colour-blind. The book consists of Dr. Sacks adventure, research and experience with that community.

Read the Book…

“Uncle Tungsten” (2001)

This book is based on Dr. Oliver Sacks own childhood memory with his uncle Dave. The book was published on 2001. Dace was nicknamed as Uncle Tungsten by Oliver because he was secretary of a business named Tungstalite who produced bulbs with tungsten filament. His uncle always said that tungsten was the metal of the future. The book with his own memories also consists of history and science of chemistry and electrochemistry. It consists of his experiences of sadism at school, his interest in Chemistry, and a passing obsession with coloring his own black-and-white photographs in his home laboratory.

“Oaxaca Journal” (2002)

Oaxaca is a state in southern Mexico which is famous for it’s indigenous cultures and green Volcanic Rock. This book is based on Dr. Sacks’s adventure on Oaxaca Island. The book focuses on Dr. Sacks’s passion for natural history and botany. Oaxaca Journal also have a brief description and his experience with it’s place, it’s people and it’s plants.

“Musicophilia” (2007)

The most recent book by Dr. Oliver Sacks, “Musicophillia: Tales of Music and the Brain” was published on 2007. In this book he explained the Neurological and Psychological connection of Music and Brain by setting the example from his case studies. This book is divided into four parts, “Haunted by Music”; “A Range of Musicality”; “ Memory, Movement, and Music”; “Emotion, Identity, and Music”. The book have a clear reflection of both musicophile ( one who loves music) and musicophobia ( fear of music). According to Dr.Sacks he wrote this book to widen the general peoples understanding of music and its effects on the brain. It is one of the best book to know the scientific effects of music and it’s impact on our brain.

“The Mind's Eye” (2010)

A book consisting of Dr. Sacks’s case studies with the patients who were unable to recognize the things by their eyes. His dramatic explanation of such thrilling case studies again made that book famous the book also reflects his own experience with eye cancer and inability to recognize face. While reviewing the book, famous British journalist, writer and reviewer Bryan Appleyard, wrote that, "Sacks the doctor once again dramatizes the most strange and thrilling scientific and cultural issue of our time—the nature of the human mind—through the simple act of telling stories."

“Hallucinations” (2012)

This book is one of the beautiful creation of Dr. Oliver Sacks, it’s written with the intention to remove the stigma of hallucinations in the eyes of society and the medical world. The book focuses on his experience with his patients who had different types of hallucinations. He explained the types and the symptoms in such a way that a common person can easily understand the science behind it. And also he mentioned the positive impact of hallucinations in art and culture. This book also got shortlisted nominee on "Wellcome Book Prize" in 2014.

“Gratitude” (2015)

Here comes one of his best creation and his last book “Gratitude”. Dr. Sacks was diagnosed with recurrence of cancer in 2015, during those last few months of his life he didn’t stopped writing, he wrote a bunch of essays in which he explained his feelings about completing a life and coming to terms with his own death. His exceptional writing and putting those exact emotions into the words made this Best Selling Book again for the last time.

“No writer has succeeded in capturing the medical and human drama of illness as honestly and as eloquently as Oliver Sacks”.

“The River of Consciousness” (2017)

This book is an example of Dr. Sacks unbelievable thinking ability and his skills to put emotions into his writings. The book consists of 10 essays and some of them are dedicated to some famous and specific figure like Darwin, Freud. Some famous stories includes “Darwin and the Meaning of Flowers”, “The Creative Self”, “A General Feeling of Disorder” etc…

“Everything in it’s place” (2019)

A book consists of his best essays and his experience of joy throughout his life. Consisting of some of his unpublished stories this book is slightly different from his other books. The book is divided into three main sections “First Loves”, “Clinical Tales” and “Life Continues”. While reviewing the book ‘People Magazine’ said that, “Magical . . . [Everything in Its Place] showcases the neurologist’s infinitely curious mind”.

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