The best neurology books

5 authors have picked their favorite books about neurology and why they recommend each book.

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An Anthropologist on Mars

By Oliver Sacks,

Book cover of An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales

An Anthropologist On Mars taught me that I was not alone in being different. The world was full of other odd characters like me, including those who were autistic, a term I had never come across before. Temple Grandin, who was featured in the book, also wrote Thinking in Pictures, which I could fully sympathise with and recognise because I too thought in images and not words. In the same way that Simon Baron Cohen's book Zero Degrees of Empathy told me that I wasn't psychotic or dangerous to other people, just that I lacked an emotional relationship with them. I was the little professor observing everything but not getting involved in the lives of others, Mr. Spock-wise.


Who am I?

My passion and subsequent expertise in this subject have followed years of self-study and reading. I have tried to make sense of the conflicting views that the world has thrown at me, confusing me by each claiming to be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (the seller's marketplace). The books in this series, reflect how difficult it is to be yourself and how much courage it takes to break free of your conditioning, parental or societal. It covers the necessary breakdown of the internal personality, so that a new you can emerge from the cocoon of the reassembled old you, butterfly-like.


I wrote...

Observations from Another Planet

By Tony Sandy,

Book cover of Observations from Another Planet

What is my book about?

My own book, Observations From Another Planet, is one of two collections of my own thoughts, where I have tried to understand certain behaviours of other people, carried out by them and the justification they give to their acts, including the lies they tell themselves about their motives for doing things as though life is a courtroom and they are afraid of being found guilty of the crime of life.

Lange Clinical Neurology

By David A. Greenberg, Michael J. Aminoff, Roger P. Simon

Book cover of Lange Clinical Neurology

There were numerous articles I have read regarding the nervous system however, the most memorable book I read would be Clinical Neurology. It contained the information I required with it being an easy read, it provided clinically relevant information with an easy-to-follow guide that was outlined in the chapters. From my perspective student material relating to neurology have the best learning format of the material that is being presented like in this book.


Who am I?

Losing something is exceedingly difficult to accept, however, in sharing my story I hope it gives the personal motivation to recover the things that have been taken away. There is light in a tunnel you just must find it, my story I hope gives you that light.


I wrote...

Getting Out: My Story Plus The Exercises And Experience I Learned That Can Help You Get Out From The Wheelchair

By Greg Siofer,

Book cover of Getting Out: My Story Plus The Exercises And Experience I Learned That Can Help You Get Out From The Wheelchair

What is my book about?

Never underestimate your body's ability to heal. If you are having balancing issues, then this book is for you.

Getting Out book comes with valuable exercises that every person learning to walk again needs to have. But regaining your inner confidence to face and overcome challenges is an important part of leading a happier and rewarding life. Author Greg Siofer, knows the struggles, he opens and shares his personal story, experience, and the proven exercises that work.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat And Other Clinical Tales

By Oliver Sacks,

Book cover of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat And Other Clinical Tales

Emo Phillips once said, “I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this.” But the brain is fascinating, especially when things start going wrong. Oliver Sacks was a brilliant neurologist who wrote about the cases he’d investigated, including a man who was convinced he had an alien leg, a woman who was unable to perceive anything to her left, and a man who was unable to form new memories. The tales are heartbreaking and fascinating and show us the power of the brain and the danger of assuming in absolute truth.


Who am I?

When I completed one of my early novels, a really demented one called Factory Town, a fellow author emailed me with great concern for my mental health. He was convinced I was heading down a dark cave that I couldn’t be rescued from. But it wasn’t true. Writing and reading these dark novels doesn’t make me depressed. It makes me feel creatively revitalized. Dark literature reminds us that being alive is painful—but it’s also wonderful. I hope to never spend any real time with people as terrifying as the ones I’ve found on these pages. But I’m incredibly thankful they were a part of my imagined world for a time. 


I wrote...

Beneath Cruel Waters

By Jon Bassoff,

Book cover of Beneath Cruel Waters

What is my book about?

When Holt Davidson learns that his estranged mother has taken her own life, he returns to his hometown for the funeral, hoping to make peace with the past. He spends the night at his childhood home, but instead of nostalgic souvenirs, he discovers a gun, a love letter, and a Polaroid photograph of a man lying in his own blood.

Who is the dead man? Was his mother the one who killed him, and, if so, why? Who sent the love letter? And what role did his sister, institutionalized since she was a teenager, play in this act of violence? As his own traumatic memories begin to resurface, Holt begins an investigation into his mother’s and sister’s pasts—as well as his own.

Jesus' Son

By Denis Johnson,

Book cover of Jesus' Son

On the first date with my now-husband, he asked that typical question: What’s your favorite book? And despite it being a typical question I didn’t have an immediate answer. I love to read about psychology, neurology, linguistics, and cosmology, but those aren’t really the types of books that make you call out a favorite. I remember later staring at my bookcase and asking myself which one I could say was my favorite. On the next date I handed him my copy of Jesus’ Son. It’s an addictive page-turner and a quick read, so a few days later he'd finished it, loved it, and had a better idea of how my mind worked.

This collection of short stories about addicts, drunks, petty criminals, and screw-ups, is all tied together by a narrator who breathes poetry into the ugliness of what it is to be on the edge of society, and…


Who am I?

I’ve always been drawn to characters who are no longer on the edge but have stepped off and are halfway down the plummet—and while they’re falling through their trauma, they see the world’s darkness from an angle that translates into a beautiful kind of philosophy. People who have lived through hell have a perspective unlike those who have never struggled. The hell I lived through has given way to my own kind of philosophy and I let the darkness from my life come through my writing in streaks of light.


I wrote...

Tronick

By Rosie Record,

Book cover of Tronick

What is my book about?

Tronick is a visceral dive into the dystopia of tomorrow following an anti-hero through a world devastated by systemic corruption, religious extremism, and two opposing forces vying for control of California-Annex. Fiona Tronick is seen as a grungy pusher peddling shine and misinformation in back alleys, but she’s really a street operative and has always been loyal to her employer. So when a milky-eyed stranger hands her a briefcase of secrets and asks her if reality is real, she’s intrigued—but when she’s asked to execute that same messenger, she starts to question her employer’s motives and the role she’s playing in their game.

Phantoms in the Brain

By V.S. Ramachandran, Sandra Blakeslee,

Book cover of Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind

Ramachandran is famous for studying some of the disorders that can be produced for the brain. One such is phantom limb pain. Some people who have had an arm amputated continue to feel that arm, and even to have pain in it. Ramachandran devised an ingenious experiment to try to abolish that feeling. This and other clever ideas are described in this book. Readers will quickly appreciate that science is like the humanities in requiring creativity.

Who am I?

I have worked on the brain in Oxford since 1970, and my job also required me to teach students, not just in lectures but also in tutorials. This taught me how to communicate clearly. In my own scientific work, I was amongst the first to use functional brain imaging to visualize the human brain at work. I have written seven books and edited an eighth. My particular specialisation is decision making and the brain areas (such as the prefrontal cortex) that support it. I have just published a monograph of nearly 500 pages on the prefrontal cortex, aimed at other scientists in the field. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society. 


I wrote...

Cognitive Neuroscience: A Very Short Introduction

By Richard Passingham,

Book cover of Cognitive Neuroscience: A Very Short Introduction

What is my book about?

This is one of a series of books on topics in the sciences and humanities for laypeople. These books have proved to be extremely popular. Each chapter starts with questions that people might ask and ends with the answers that the brain sciences provide. Cognitive neuroscience is the neuroscience of perception, thought, and decision making.

The book is written in an easy style. There are technical terms for the brain areas that are mentioned, but these areas are also shown on diagrams.

The Tell-Tale Brain

By V.S. Ramachandran,

Book cover of The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human

This guy’s got genuine chops when it comes to thinking practically about the way the brain works. I love reading about the way various biological oddities affect how people perceive the world because of the insights it offers into the tricks all of our brains are playing. But I can never escape the suspicion that story tellers like to over-extraoplate from a small number of over-hyped cases. What I love about Ramachandran is that his work in the field means he’s considering stories he’s had first hand experience with.


Who am I?

I’m an educator at heart and have been teaching in high schools for over thirty years now. I get a kick out of helping young people see the world anew and think about ideas in ways that at first seem strange and challenging to them, both in the classroom and through my novels. Of course, to be any good at that, I have to be inquisitive and open myself, and there’s nothing like the topic of consciousness to make you feel feeble-minded and ill-informed. It’s such a wondrous topic because it sits at the precise meeting point of so many of our scientific, cultural, artistic, religious, and philosophical traditions.


I wrote...

Genesis

By Bernard Beckett,

Book cover of Genesis

What is my book about?

Anax thinks she knows history. Her grueling all-day Examination has just begun, and if she passes, she’ll be admitted into the Academy—the elite governing institution of her utopian society. But Anax is about to discover that for all her learning, the history she’s been taught isn’t the whole story. And the Academy isn’t what she believes it to be. In this brilliant novel of dazzling ingenuity, Anax’s examination leads us into a future where we are confronted with unresolved questions raised by science and philosophy.

Centuries old, these questions have gained new urgency in the face of rapidly developing technology. What is consciousness? What makes us human? If artificial intelligence were developed to a high enough capability, what special status could humanity still claim? Outstanding and original, Beckett’s dramatic narrative comes to a shocking conclusion.

The Girl in the Flammable Skirt

By Aimee Bender,

Book cover of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt: Stories

My father’s neurologist described Alzheimer’s as “a real weird city.” It was as apt a description as I’ve found. This collection of magical, strange, and hilarious short stories kept me company as I navigated the shifting landscape of Dad’s illness. At that time, I could not have found a better reflection of my own stew of emotions than the “reverse evolution” chronicled in the first story in the book. “The Rememberer” saved me. Bender’s graceful tale of the acceptance of inevitable loss is suffused with love, and the way her writing lets imagination spring the bonds of reality encouraged me to respond with flexibility and curiosity as Dad loosened his grip on time, space, and identity.  


Who am I?

With more than 6-million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, my story is a shared narrative. Because reading creates empathy, I work to widen the perspective of my writing and include voices different from my own. Thanks to neuroplasticity, healthy brains have the ability to keep changing and learning. Each one of these books offers a helpful nudge in a new direction. My essays and articles have appeared in numerous publications including the Washington Post, Luxe, and Variable West, and are listed as notable in the 2019 Best American Science and Nature Writing. I’m currently at work on a second memoir about motherhood and the way travel cultivates a willing acceptance of uncertainty. 


I wrote...

Leaving Tinkertown

By Tanya Ward Goodman,

Book cover of Leaving Tinkertown

What is my book about?

Tanya Ward Goodman was raised in Tinkertown Museum, a New Mexico roadside attraction built by her father, Ross Ward. When he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's at the age of fifty-eight, Goodman left a writing career and new love in Los Angeles to move back home. In this book Tanya tells Ross’s story and her own, sharing the tragedy and the unexpected comedy of caring for this funny, stubborn man who remained a unique creative force even as Alzheimer's tore through his mind. Leaving Tinkertown is an account of the ways that loss reshaped an eccentric family and propelled the author to realize that her place in the world lay outside the museum.

A Tattoo on My Brain

By Daniel Gibbs, Teresa H. Barker,

Book cover of A Tattoo on My Brain: A Neurologist's Personal Battle Against Alzheimer's Disease

This first-person account of living with a biomarker-defined diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is a clearly written story of two very distinct, even antagonistic experiences. There’s the highly subjective experience of being a patient and the highly objective experience of being a physician who has diagnosed and cared for persons with the same disease. In one book is one narrative of two perspectives embodied in one person. The result is an unadorned account of what it’s like to lose one’s mind just a little bit at a time. Case in point is his account of apathy. I’m routinely prescribing this book to my patients. 


Who am I?

I’m a physician and a writer. Together, they create a matrix of practice, research, and writing. I care for patients at the Penn Memory Center and am a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where I teach and study topics at the intersections of bioethics, aging, and the neurosciences. I wrote The Problem of Alzheimer’s: How Science, Culture, and Politics Turned a Rare Disease into a Crisis and What We Can Do About It and the novel Open Wound: The Tragic Obsession of Dr. William Beaumont and essays for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Hill, STAT, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. I raise whippets, and I’m a passionate reader of the physician and poet John Keats. 


I wrote...

The Problem of Alzheimer's: How Science, Culture, and Politics Turned a Rare Disease Into a Crisis and What We Can Do about It

By Jason Karlawish,

Book cover of The Problem of Alzheimer's: How Science, Culture, and Politics Turned a Rare Disease Into a Crisis and What We Can Do about It

What is my book about?

The Problem of Alzheimer's: How Science, Culture and Politics Turned a Rare Disease into a Crisis and What We Can Do About It is an unambiguous account of a century of missed opportunities and our health care systems’ failures to take action. I trace Alzheimer’s from its early 20th century beginnings in the Kaiser’s Germany to its early 21st-century recognition as a crisis. I also tell the story of the biomedical breakthroughs that may allow the disease to finally be slowed with medications. These same advances are telling us a clear message: We’re not going to drug our way out of this complicated problem.

With that, the second half of the book examines how we can live with Alzheimer’s and other diseases that cause dementia. I’m especially keen to the ways patients can reclaim their autonomy and their sense of self, how families can support their loved ones, and the innovative reforms we can make as a society to improve the lives of both patients and caregivers.

It's All in Your Head

By Suzanne O'Sullivan,

Book cover of It's All in Your Head: Stories from the Frontline of Psychosomatic Illness

For doctors and patients alike, it is almost impossible to understand how some of the most dramatic conditions we see – seizures, paralysis, blindness – may have an underlying psychological basis. In this book, O’Sullivan explains the basis of psychosomatic illness with skill, illustrating this area of neurological practice with fascinating case studies.


Who am I?

Guy Leschziner is a professor of neurology and sleep medicine at King’s College London. He is the author of The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience and The Secret World of Sleep, and the forthcoming The Man Who Tasted Words, and is a presenter on BBC Radio 4 and the World Service.


I wrote...

The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience, and the Secret World of Sleep

By Guy Leschziner,

Book cover of The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience, and the Secret World of Sleep

What is my book about?

A renowned neurologist shares the true stories of people unable to get a good night's rest in The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience, and the Secret World of Sleep, a fascinating exploration of the symptoms and syndromes behind sleep disorders. With compassionate stories of his patients and their conditions, Dr. Leschziner illustrates the neuroscience behind our sleeping minds, revealing the many biological and psychological factors necessary in getting the rest that will not only maintain our physical and mental health, but improve our cognitive abilities and overall happiness.

The Out-of-Sync Child

By Carol Stock Kranowitz,

Book cover of The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Differences

Sensory processing disorder or SPD is a difficult condition to explain as it can involve one or more of any of our senses, so can present differently in each child. It would be considered one of the neurological “soft signs” meaning that a diagnosis of SPD typically means there is more going on than a simple developmental lag. Today the majority of children diagnosed with apraxia also have coexisting soft signs such as SPD, hypotonia (low tone), and/or motor deficits in the body. It’s important if apraxia is diagnosed or suspected to take your child to either a pediatric neurologist or developmental pediatrician to confirm or rule out soft signs in the body.

When Tanner was little and his only “words” were “mmm” or “ma” we were at the Chelsea Piers in NYC. Tanner had a sensory meltdown and if you’ve never seen one it can be very intense. His…


Who am I?

I started as a designer, patented inventor, and creator in the fashion, toy, and film industries, but after the early diagnosis of my young children on the spectrum, both “late talkers,” diagnosed with multiple disorders including apraxia, I entered the world of nonprofit, research, and advocacy. I am the founder of the nonprofit Cherab Foundation where I've been outreaching for over twenty years. I've hosted numerous conferences including the first for apraxia overseen by a medical director from NIH who reviewed my protocol – the use of fish oils as a therapeutic intervention, published research on my patented nutritional intervention IQed Smart Nutrition, and co-authored the book The Late Talker to share my proven protocol and help others achieve the best possible results for their communication impaired children.


I wrote...

The Late Talker

By Marilyn C. Agin, Lisa F. Geng, Malcolm J. Nicholl

Book cover of The Late Talker

What is my book about?

The Late Talker is the first book of its kind, providing effective, practical answers to the questions every concerned parent asks. Written by Marilyn C. Agin, a highly respected developmental pediatrician, and Lisa F. Geng, a mother of two late talkers.

It is a tremendously useful handbook that includes: ways to identify the warning signs of a speech disorder; information on how to get the right kind of evaluations and therapy; ways to obtain appropriate services through the school system and health insurance; fun at-home activities that parents can do with their child to stimulate speech; groundbreaking evidence of the promising and dramatic benefits of nutritional supplementation; advice from experienced parents who've been there on what to expect and what you can do to be your child's best advocate.

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