Friday, April 24, 2009

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks (1/81) Neuroscience/Psychology Category

This is my second Oliver Sack book.  The first book being "An Anthropologist on Mars"... Although I am fascinated by neuroscience, I too frequently find that the books written on these topics by the experts lack in an exciting literary style.  There is nothing wrong with writing in a case study style, but I would love to see more masters that combine a lively style of writing with the neurobiological topics. 
Oliver Sack's approach to connections between music and various brain disorders is well qualified and interesting.  His passion for the topic is obvious and the book is well worth the read, even though reading his style can be a chore at times. Some of the many topics covered include musical seizures,  the role music plays for those with Williams Syndrome and Alzheimers, and a man who is literally struck by a streak of lightning that awakens a talent and obsession for piano and composition.  These true accounts are extraordinary. The varying relationships different individuals have with music are intriguing, informing, and at times either evoke pity, envy, or inspiration.  
Sacks also discusses the importance of music in the healing process. He is helping to legitimize and validate the important work being done through music therapy. An example would be how music helps in memory disorders, autism and Parkinson's disease. For this, I am very thankful for Sack's work, because it is an example of very active nonfiction informing the public in a relatable and interesting way about possibilities in music and medicine that could help or inspire them, or a loved one. 
This book has a lot to offer, and can be read in sections like short stories, or if your like me in a couple sittings because the cases make the book hard to put down. 

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