The Man Who Forgot How to Read: A Memoir
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The Man Who Forgot How to Read: A Memoir

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3.25 of 5 stars 3.25  ·  rating details  ·  211 ratings  ·  42 reviews
The remarkable journey of an award-winning writer struck with a rare and devastating affliction that prevented him from reading even his own writing
One hot midsummer morning, novelist Howard Engel picked up his newspaper from his front step and discovered he could no longer read it. The letters had mysteriously jumbled themselves into something that looked like Cyrillic on...more
ebook, 176 pages
Published July 8th 2008 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Leslie
Spoiled by Oliver Sacks' magnificent prose, I felt that Engel's memoir didn't quite measure up. Upon reflection, however, the amazing achievement of being able to continue writing after the stroke which led to his disability - alexia sine agraphia - overshadows any faults. Engels memoir is not only entertaining, it provides a unique perspective on what happens to stroke patients and how they handle lasting disability.

Read-alikes would include Bauby's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Cytowicz'...more
Daniel Hooker
How do I give a lukewarm review to such an astounding and incredible story and author? It is indeed an incredible tale, but unfortunately it contains so many of Engel's acknowledged deficits that the prose is quite dry. Large elements are repeated across several chapters and the same analogies appear over and over.

The Oliver Sacks afterword is cleverly left until after you have worked through Engel's tale, and immediately reveals what was missing: a clinician's knowledge, comparison to others'...more
Evi Yuniati
Howard Engel...penulis fiksi kriminal yang begitu gemar membaca dan membaca adalah hidupnya tiba-tiba suatu hari karena stroke harus kehilangan kemampuan membacanya (Alexia Sine Agraphia). Bagaimana rasanya bila seorang penulis yang dalam pekerjaannya juga berhubungan dengan membaca untuk mengedit kembali tulisannya harus kembali belajar membaca seperti anak kecil?

Ketidak mampuan itu tidak menjadikan Howard putus asa. Selama dalam masa rehabilitasi Howard terus dan terus belajar untuk mendapatka...more
Angela
This is a fascinating book on a number of levels. The whole concept and detailed description of the author's wrecked perception after his stroke was amazing and thought provoking. I also loved reading his thoughts and feelings about the writing process in general - both before and after the "insult" to his brain. It was a very quick and easy read, but one that left me pondering for a long time.
Ami
I couldn't get past the few few chapters. While I think the conversational tone is fine to use in writing, the author was too repetitive about inconsequential information. For instance, pointing out who Lolly was every time he used the name.
Jan C
Pretty amazing story.

What happens to a writer who suddenly learns that he can't read. One morning he gets up, picks up the paper and determines that it must be printed in a foreign language. It is subsequently determined that he had a stroke and was left with alexia - the ability to write but no longer able to read.

"When my mind froze up, writing can only be compared to trying to move a ton of raw liver uphill by hand."

Engel is a mystery writer and wonders how he is going to be able to earn a li...more
Tony
Engel, Howard. THE MAN WHO FORGOT HOW TO READ: A Memoir. (2008). ****. On a hot mid-summer morning, Engel went to his front door to pick up his daily newspaper. When he glanced at it, it looked like it was printed in Serbo-Croatian. He opened it up, thinking one of his friends had played a prank, and the inside was the same. He realized that he had had a stroke overnight, and that his vision was impaired. When he checked himself into the stroke clinic at the hospital, he learned that had indeed...more
nat
-Aku kecanduan buku. Aku selalu membawa dua atau lebih buku di mana pun berada. Kantorku dipenuhi dengan rak buku. Aku kecanduan kata-kata yang dicetak- (p.7)

-Di mana pun aku menetap, di benua apapun, semua ruang horizontal sudah menyanggah tumpukan buku- (p.19)

-Alexia adalah duri utama untuk diriku. Sine agraphia merupakan cara yang ditawarkan untuk membuatku merasa nyaman. Aku serasa diberi tahu bahwa kaki kananku harus diamputasi tapi aku bisa menyimpan sepatu dan kaus kaki- p.39

Buku ini adal...more
VWrulesChick
What is your passion life? What would you do if you could no longer do it? That was the case for Howard Engel, who is writes novels about crime. But one summer morning, he encounters he can no longer read. What would happen to him, his life, his passion?

This is a memoir based on his road to recovery from this rare medical condition after having a stroke. His challenges and his need to continue to write. I found it an easy and quick read. I better understand the challenges of having a stroke and...more
Artslyz
enjoyable. not an oliver sacks book, but still an interesting step into neurology for the non-scientist!
Abby
This was a great book by a Canadian author of detective novels. When Engel suffered a stroke several years ago, the resulting damage left him with ataxia sine agraphia - essentially, he was no longer able to read although his ability to write remained intact.

In this memoir of sorts, Engel details his life leading up to the stroke, including his love of literature and all sorts of books, and the events that follow. He walks the reader through his stay at the hospital in Toronto, followed by sever...more
Sue Smith
A fascinating glimpse at the struggles of a stroke victim suddenly stricken with a rare condition called 'alexia sine agraphia'.

Doesn't sound fascinating though, does it?! I thought so as well when I started this book snuggled into my bed - and was promptly asleep after 5 pages. (Books that are text book related have that effect on me unfortunately). So - note to self - don't read this one in bed.

So once I got to reading this one sitting up in a chair, the story was very revealing and very inte...more
Lien
Kisah nyata sang penulis Howard Engel, yang sangat menginspirasi dimana dimasa hidupnya terserang suatu kondisi alexia sine agraphia, stroke yang menyerang bagian otak tertentu membuatnya tidak bisa membaca dan bahkan sedikit kehilangan ingatan.

Dia tak mampu "melihat" kata-kata sebagai kata-kata dalam pikiran matanya, lebih dari apa yang dirasakannya sebagai kata-kata yang dicetak dihadapannya.(...)Dia menemukan, yang paling mudah (sejak kemampuan menulisnya tetap cacat), adalah menuliskan satu...more
Ayu Puspita Sari
Tendensi saya untuk pindah-pindah membaca membuat buku ini--dan banyak buku lainnya--tersingkir ke tumpukan buku-belum-terbaca saya. Bukan karena bukunya jelek dan tidak menarik, sama sekali bukan, saya memang separah itu.

Menceritakan tentang penulis misteri terkenal Kanada, Howard Engel, yang bangun di suatu pagi dan menemukan dirinya tidak dapat membaca lagi. Huruf-huruf seakan berubah menjadi aksara yang tak pernah dipelajarinya. Di rumah sakit ia mengetahui bahwa dirinya terkena stroke, dan...more
Lianne Burwell
I can't think of anything worse for a writer. Howard Engel had a stroke, and in the aftermath of the stroke, finds that suddenly he cannot read. There are other problems, but the innability to read is the worst, especially for a man who make his living as a writer. His description of having to ask his son to help him work his computer, because he can't figure things out, then having to ask the same questions day after day, is terrifying.

The book covers his recovery. He'll never be able to read w...more
Shonna Froebel
This memoir by Engel tells the story of how he dealt with the stroke that took away his ability to read, among other things. It was a mild stroke, and did not affect his physical movement but besides the alexia, it also affected his vision and his memory. Because Engel, as a writer, naturally took to writing to communicate, and was still able to write despite not being able to read, he describes what is going on within very well. He talks about his struggle to learn to read again and the tools h...more
Alida
Interesting book; a memoir by Howard Engel, a bestselling novelist and voracious reader who one morning wakes up and finds he can't read anymore. He suffered a stroke and has "alexia sine agraphia" which means he can't read but can still write. I know, nightmare material for the likes of us.

I did not enjoy this book as much as "Crashing Through" which also dealt alot with how the brain works. It was repetitive at times but once I reminded myself that the author could not, without great difficul...more
Jane
Imagine waking up one day unable to read. All letters and script have taken on the form of a foreign alphabet - perhaps Hebrew or Russian. This is what has happen the Howard Engel. He suffered a mild stroke that caused alexia - the inability to read.

As a person who loves books: the feel, the smell, the excitement of reading something new or returning to beloved characters, I cannot imagine the horror of waking up one day unable to read. I don't know that I would have handled the situation quite...more
Petra X
The author, a writer of the Benny Cooperman series of detective novels had a stroke and was stricken with alexia - the inability to read, although he could still write, slightly restricted vision and a really bad memory. This book is the story of his time from the stroke until he had his first post-trauma novel published.

Its a slight book, very simply written (which I enjoyed) and somewhat repetitive. He's a brave man, one of life's 'triers', but the book would have been better off as an essay...more
Asfarian
Howard Engel adalah seorang penulis. Ia menulis seri novel detektif dengan tokoh utama Benny Copperman. Pada suatu hari setelah bangun tidur Engel mendapati dirinya tidak dapat membaca. Huruf-huruf yang selama ini ia kenal berubah menjadi simbol-simbol yang berantakan. Engel terkena struk yang melumpuhkan kemampuannya untuk membaca.

Bagaimana jadinya seorang penulis yang tidak bisa membaca? Engel menolak untuk menerima keadaan dan berusaha agar dirinya dapat membaca kembali. Buku ini menceritakan...more
eva
ok, so interesting topic right?...well it was just definitely not my cup of tea. i keep getting distracted by little details in the book that really have no great impact on the story but i do think the journey of Howard Engel is very interesting and anybody can get it.
Imagine that you could no longer do something you loved and have done everyday of your life. I think the courage and "real"ness of the book make up for the fact that it can be a little dull and confusing in general.
Jaqi
Engel is no Oliver Sacks, and I have to assume he relies somewhat on the writing style he developed and refined for his works of fiction (which he assumes a familiarity with that I lack). For me, this memoir was saved by the unique experience and tale the author has to share, from his sense of detachment from responsibility during his recuperation to his efforts to learn how to read again.
Andrea

Well this was certainly an interesting book to read. I realize lately how much we take our health and wellbeing for granted. I really found that as a writer this was a great inspiration to me. If he can get through after what he has been through then I can accomplish anything I set out to. Imagine if we who love books so much lost our ability to read!
Mary
Howard Engel is a writer who woke up one day and couldn't read his newspaper. He woke up his young son and got Jacob to take him to the ER. He had had a stroke that affected his ability to read, but not to write. It took awhile, but he can now read by spelling out letters with his tongue on the roof of his mouth.
Mary
Amazing short memoir, complemented by an instructive Afterword
by Oliver Sacks. Very interesting on the tricks our brains play on us, and our resources in dealing with them. Two encouraging guys to hear from, regardless of how you think your brain is
working at the moment, or may in the future.
Anna Porter
This was a good book, and the story was interesting but it wasn't a 'must reread again' book.

Although I don't generally read mysteries or detective stories, I would be interested to read some of his pre-stroke and post-stroke books if I came accross thome to see the effect of his disorder.
Colleen Clark
Having recently read a couple of books about reading it was especially interesting to read an account of a writer who had a stroke that left his reading ability severely impaired. He could still write. The brain is complicated.
Mark Parrish
Howard Engel is an amazing human being to have had a brain episode that has led him to not be able to read any more, yet he is still writing novels? This is a great memoir of his experience with overcoming his handicap
CJC
A good, quick read A dear uncle of mine recently had a stroke so this book hit home for me. It was interesting and fast paced. I enjoyed the journey and the triumph and have recommended it to my family.
Allanna
I really hope that I never have a stroke.

Suddenly being unable to read might take away my will to live.
However, Engel was able to regain his ... And he got to write to/meet Oliver Sacks, which is cool.
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176053
Howard Engel CM (born April 2, 1931) is a Canadian mystery writer and CBC producer who resides in Toronto, Ontario. He is well known to Canadian readers for his series of Benny Cooperman detective novels, set in the Niagara Region in and around the city of Grantham, Ontario (which strongly resembles the real city of St. Catharines, Ontario, where Engel was born). Engel is a founder of Crime Writer...more
More about Howard Engel...
Memory Book (Benny Cooperman, #11) The Suicide Murders (Benny Cooperman, #1) Lord High Executioner: An Unashamed Look At Hangmen, Headsmen, And Their Kind Murder in Montparnasse (Mike Ward, #1) Mr. Doyle and Dr. Bell

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