Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain anatomist in her 30s and advancing in her academic research career, wakes up one morning in the early stages of a stroke. In the first part of the book, the author and narrator describes minute by minute the dawning realization of what is happening to her and the actions she takes to get help. Even though the listener knows by the fact that she herself is narrating the story that she does eventually get medical attention, the suspense is acute. Minute by minute, her brain function deteriorates and she knows in anatomical detail exactly what is happening to her. The damage is all in the left brain, allowing her (and us) to comprehend from a first-hand account left-brain versus right-brain anatomy and function. The story continues through her long, arduous recovery, with insight into brain structure and function that perhaps the world could never have gotten any other way. In the last part of the book, Taylor shares some profound lessons for all of us from her experience about why we have two brains and how we can benefit from controlling their interaction.
One of many memorable moments is when she finally makes telephone contact with her office and communicates her situation.
I recommend this book to anyone who has had a stroke or who knows someone who has had a stroke. I recommend it also for anyone interested in brain science, neurology, and neuroanatomy.
Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear.
I loved the insights and conclusions Jill frankly shared with the public. Honestly didn't expect to like this book as much as I did. Found myself thinking... "that is my left brain at it again" and trying to follow her suggestions to settle it down. Great read for medical personnel, psych patients and family's of stroke patients.
My father had a stroke one year ago and this book was helpful to know that the brain continues to heal and grow even past when the doctors tell you that after one year it's all over. Very understandable and interesting. A fascinating discussion of the brain.
Taylor describes in detail her stroke, how it effected her, and here long recovery. These portions of the book are well worth the cost of admission. Her discussion of right brain left brain dynamics was very informative. This is what I wanted to know about and understand the Taylor met my expectations. Unfortunately, she takes most of the book for new age self help applications which reveal nothing new. That was a little disappointing. The writing, however, is clear and interesting and the reading is very good.
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.