An excellent book that gives a glimpse of how the brain functions and what it is capable of.
It is an adult's eye witness account of how our brains may have developed as we grew up.
Most of us grew up and found out that we have a brain. We do not understand how we got to where we are. This book gives some clues.
The author of this book, Dr. Taylor, is a neuroanatomist, and at the age of 37 (in 1996) she had a stroke. This book is the story of her stroke and recovery. While it was interesting, it was not for me.
She begins with two chapters of anatomy and physiology of the brain, which was starting to be a bit much for this English major (and she spoke too quickly through this section with a lot of medical jargon), but luckily she got into the story of the stroke just then. That part was fascinating. And then I was reconsidering my initial opinion that she should not have recorded her own book. When she had realized finally what was wrong with her and was struggling to get help, she managed to be both poignantly desperate, and also a little bit funny. It took her 45 minutes to remember a phone number and figure out how to work a phone (by matching the squiggles as numbers didn't mean anything to her at that point), only to discover that she couldn't speak! I really felt for her and was on the edge of my seat while she worked at getting help, as she struggled to remember to try to say, "This is Jill, I need help." Her recovery was also interesting, when her mother moved in and let her sleep and quizzed her incessantly in between. As opposed to what is commonly held to be true (anything you don't get back in the first six months is gone forever), Dr. Taylor took eight full years to recover all her knowledge, skills, and personality. Thanks to her background, she was basically a test subject as her and her mother frequently went against standard practices in her recovery. I do hope that her experiences have led to some changes both in the initial medical interventions as well as the subsequent therapy, but to my surprise she never addresses that question.
Finally, she spent a full third of the book discussing how this whole journey affected her emotionally. This section really turned me off. While I am thrilled for her that after the stroke she was no longer perpetually angry and found she could maintain that, which led to her belief that personality traits aren't ingrained in stone and can be changed, I didn't feel that merited the space or importance that it got. A single chapter would have been sufficient, not several. At this point the book changed from a memoir to more of self-help/New Age. She discussed how you can "attract" good feelings and even good events to you through the power of your mind, and how you can push away bad feelings and bad people, which is a theory I personally find highly suspect (a la The Secret) and not worthy of a physician. She's certainly welcome to believe that all she wants, but given that the first two third of this book are highly based in science, I was rather annoyed she'd give a New Age theory such prominence, as her background and the premise of this book will lend this theory more credence than I feel it deserves.
Mostly I was annoyed because I wanted to read a memoir, and it was only that for two thirds. I suppose if I had a better idea going into this book what it was going to be, I'd have liked it more. I should have done a little more homework, as I was interested in this book solely from the author's interviews on NPR, which focused on the beginning of the book. I think others who are fully aware of the mid-book transition in genre will like it more. The author's narration grew on me, and there were pluses and minuses to her reading it herself, but I think it did work well. But I was disappointed.
Addicted to audiobooks & podcasts. 5 Stars=I Loved It, 4 Stars=Enjoyed it Thoroughly, 3=Kinda Good, 2=Bad/Boring, 1=Complete Waste of Credit
This story is full of information and inspiration - definitely something you want to check out if you know anyone who has suffered a stroke. The narration is mostly to blame for the low rating - but it's hard to fault the author for that - I imagine it would be difficult to just hand a piece of your life over to someone else to interpret. The story moves along at a good clip and the description of how she trained her brain to think around the roadblocks the stroke put in her way was interesting. The biggest thing I took away from this listen was the impact the attitudes of the hospital staff and other caregivers have on a person who is incapacitated and at their mercy - people trying to recover need to be treated with respect and compassion - not like inmates.
Though Jill doesn't have the voice of a professional reader, hearing her personal experience in her own words really helps clarify the nature and affect of the competing minds within her brain.
The later parts of the book read like a how-to for meditation in neuro-anatomical metaphor, which may or may be interesting to you. Nevertheless, well worth hearing the personal account of a luckily-prepared stroke victim.
Waste of time I did not listen to listen to all of it.
Just because she's a doctor and he does not qualify her
It's interesting to learn how are left and right brain are opposites in allot of ways, but we as humans are very similar to one another. I came away feeling more connected with others and will use Jill's definition of FEAR moving forward - "False expectations appearing real"
Amazing insightful, and emotionally profound I loved this book. When I bought it I thought it would ba an interesting trip through the ins and outs of left brain, but she delved deep into the meaning of life without ego or pretension, and did so beautifully. What a gift to the world that she survived to share it.
Après un début assez technique où j'ai été tentée d'abandonner la lecture, j'ai trouvé le récit de l'accident cérébral et de la guérison intéressant. L'explication du rôle des deux hemisphères du cerveau est fascinante et la conviction de l'auteure qu'on peut se conditionner à activer davantage le droit pour être heureux inspire l'espoir.
Jill has really shed a bright light upon the brain. Her story is incredible and so useful for every day life.
I'm studying to be certified as a MnemeTherapist, to do directed painting with those who have brain issues. This book was on our reading list, but I would recommend it for everyone!!!