My Grandmother was a librarian, and for every holiday – and I mean every holiday – my sisters and I would receive books as presents. At the time, of course, all I wanted was Dungeons and Dragons figurines, or baseball cards, or a Commodore 64, but with my Grandmother it was always books, hundreds and thousands and millions of books.
And it worked. Reading has become a lifelong love of mine, and like my Grandmother, and my parents, I’m always on the hunt for a great new book. I figure I’ll start with this post, and if you are a bookworm like me let me know in the comments; maybe we can start our own little book club.
This week I’m reading Uncle Tungsten, by the neurologist Oliver Sacks.
Oliver Sacks is probably most famous for his books The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (which became an opera written by Michael Nyman), and Awakenings (which became a Harold Pinter play and then a movie starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams).
(Dr.) Oliver Sacks writes about the strange and incredible neurological oddities of his own patients, everything from now-familiar conditions like autism and Parkinson’s, to exotic conditions like those detailed in the aforementioned books. (His patient, “Dr. P”, literally loses the ability to distinguish his wife from his hat).
The stories are brilliant and fascinating, but for me, its the beauty of his writing, and his ability to give science and rational deconstructionism a poetic soul. His observations on the human condition are delicate, subtle, funny, tragic, profoundly erudite, and above all, utterly charming. Until this week the only published book of his I hadn’t read was Uncle Tungsten.
Thus far I am loving Uncle Tungsten, an autobiographical sketch of his years before he became a neurologist. If you are like me, and you get crazy-excited and ‘changed’ by every book you read, you’ll love this one; I already want to drop everything and become a self-teaching chemist, just like he was as a young boy.