Books by Oliver Sacks

Released: April 23, 2019

"Balanced and insightful, this valedictory collection offers a fine coda to a remarkable life and career."
The acclaimed neurologist and author's spaciousness of mind, humanity, and attachment to all life has its last showcase in this posthumously published collection. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 24, 2017

"A collection of dissimilar pieces that reveal the scope of the author's interests—sometimes challenging, always rewarding."
Fans of the late neurologist have another chance to enjoy this erudite, compassionate storyteller, essayist, and memoirist in what may be his final work. Read full book review >
GRATITUDE by Oliver Sacks
Released: Nov. 24, 2015

"If that promise of clarity is what awaits us all, then death doesn't seem so awful, and that is a great gift from Sacks. A fitting, lovely farewell."
Valediction from the late neurologist and writer Sacks (On the Move: A Life, 2015, etc.).Read full book review >
ON THE MOVE by Oliver Sacks
Released: May 1, 2015

"Despite impressionistic chronology, which occasionally causes confusion and repetition, this is an engaging memoir by a consummate storyteller."
The prolific physician's adventure-filled life. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 6, 2012

"A riveting look inside the human brain and its quirks."
Acclaimed British neurologist Sacks (Neurology and Psychiatry/Columbia Univ.; The Mind's Eye, 2010, etc.) delves into the many different sorts of hallucinations that can be generated by the human mind. Read full book review >
THE MIND'S EYE by Oliver Sacks
Released: Oct. 27, 2010

"As usual with Sacks, an absorbing attempt to unravel the complexities of the human mind."
Sacks (Neurology and Psychiatry/Columbia Univ.; Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, 2007, etc.) once again uses the experiences shared with him by patients and others to probe "the complex workings of the brain and its astounding ability to adapt and overcome disability." Read full book review >
MUSICOPHILIA by Oliver Sacks
Released: Oct. 22, 2007

"Pleasantly rollicking, but with a definite hint that the grand old man is taking it easy."
The gentle doctor turns his pen to another set of mental anomalies that can be viewed as either affliction or gift. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 5, 2003

"The perfect gift for fans of science and science writing."
Fourth in this invaluable series, edited by the well-known neurologist (Uncle Tungsten, 2001, etc.) and dedicated to the memory of Stephen Jay Gould. Read full book review >
UNCLE TUNGSTEN by Oliver Sacks
Released: Oct. 22, 2001

"The realm of science is alchemy in Sacks's hands as he spins pure gold from base metals. (24 drawings, 4 pages of photos)"
Artful, impassioned memoir of a youth spent lost in the blinding light of chemistry from neurologist/essayist Sacks (The Island of the Colorblind, 1998, etc.). Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 15, 1997

Sacks's fans are in for a treat: This is a magical medical mystery tour of South Sea islands that goes beyond the neurological lore to reveal the good doctor as historian, botanist, environmentalist, anthropologist, and, as always, caring human being. This is really two books. The first is an examination of natives of the Micronesian island of Pingelap, where a high percentage are born without color-sensing cells, or cones, in their retinas. Thus, they have no experience of color and also lack visual acuity; on the other hand, they have accommodated with increased sensitivity to texture. They are also acutely sensitive to light and squint in daylight, seeking the comfort of twilight or nightfall as their best times. Sacks is accompanied by an ophthalmologist and a Norwegian scientist who is also an ``achromatope.'' History and politics explain how there can be such high prevalence of a rare genetic disease: With an island's population reduced by severe climatic catastrophes or by colonizers, a mutant gene can spread through the surviving inbred community. Guam is the site of the second neurological phenomenon- -one that remains a mystery. Numbers of native Chamorros suffer from ``lytico-bodig''—a kind of triple-threat neuropathology that can take the form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, various kinds of parkinsonism, or dementia. Here Sacks and his companionate physicians are revealed as marvelously empathic in their visits to afflicted families. There is more to the Guam story, however. The celebration of nature, the stories of Sacks's youth in England, his lifelong love of plants, and the fragility of the islands form a passionate subtheme. Military operation, and tourism with hotels and golf courses are the contemporary versions of the colonizer mentality that wrought havoc in the past. Yet scenes of surpassing beauty remain, and we have Sacks to thank for recording them along with the examples of indomitable will and adaption that humans can manifest. (10 drawings, 2 maps) (First printing of 150,000; Literary Guild alternate selection; author tour) Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 21, 1995

In seven case histories, Sacks (The Man Who Mistook His Wife Fora Hat, 1985, etc.) once again presents the bizarre both clinically and lyrically, challenging assumptions about the landscape of human reality. The fascination of Dr. Sacks's approach to neurological disorder is his attempt to empathize with patients whose realities can't be described in normal terms. He dares to wonder how pathology can shape consciousness and the concept of self. To him, a patient is not a broken machine, but an inhabitant of an unfamiliar world. And sometimes those alien worlds are more hospitable than the one we are used to. After an accident, a successful artist (referred to as Mr. I) loses the ability to experience color: Not only can't he see it, he can't dream it, remember it, or even imagine it. After a period of extreme depression and uncertainty, he comes to think of his condition as "a strange gift" that allows him to experience the physical world in a unique way. Virgil, whose sight is restored after a lifetime of blindness, is crushed by the bewilderment of vision; his brain has never learned to see, but his comfortable life as a blind person is irrevocably over. And then there is Temple Grandin, an animal-science professor and a high-functioning autistic who has only learned the rules of interpersonal relationships by memorizing them like complex math problems, though her empathy with animals is astonishing. Occasionally, Sacks provides too much technical detail — long riffs on the mechanics of vision, for instance — but these are minor distractions. (The essays have been previously published in the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books.) Readers may come to Sacks's work as voyeurs, but they will leave it with new and profound respect for the endless labyrinth of the human mind. Read full book review >
AWAKENINGS by Oliver Sacks
Released: July 12, 1974

L-DOPA has been hailed by researchers as a "miracle drug," a "cure" for schizophrenia. Sacks provides 20 case histories of patients to whom the drug was administered, most of them victims of the "sleeping sickness" epidemic of the 1920's, further complicated by Parkinsonian symptoms: that is, their volition was undermined, they had difficulty in starting and stopping movements (though the problem was not muscular). The fact that they remained thinking, feeling beings placed them in a sort of "ontological death": conscious, yet not fully awake. The results of L-DOPA were inconsistent and unpredictable. It produced an "awakening," but one which was almost universally followed by "tribulation," some instances of which led back to the pre-DOPA state, others to even further fragmentation of personality. One patient called the drug, "hell-DOPA"; another said, "If you ask whether L-DOPA is good or bad for me, I'd say it was both. It has wonderful effects, but there is a hell of a 'but' . . ." Some effected a final "accommodation," a new level of being far richer than the pre-DOPA level. Sacks argues that "altering. . . chemical circumstances may be a prerequisite to any other alteration; but that it is not, in itself, enough." A drug cannot fulfill psychological needs, and it may intensify those needs when they are not otherwise met. In the eerie shadow-world where mind and body meet, Sacks remains extraordinarily compassionate and perceptive. A sagacious, discerning book. Read full book review >
Released: June 7, 1905

"This book ranks with the very best of its genre. It will inform and entertain anyone, especially those who find medicine an intriguing and mysterious art."
If you enjoy medical case histories that are sensitive yet lively, weird but informative, then Sacks' book is your ticket. Read full book review >