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The Man Who Forgot How To Read

3.27  ·  Rating Details  ·  244 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
Finding the words: the remarkable journey of a bestselling writer struck with a rare and devastating affliction and how he triumphed over his condition.

One hot mid-summer morning in Toronto, bestselling crime novelist Howard Engel got up to fetch his morning paper and discovered he could no longer read it. The letters had mysteriously jumbled themselves into something that
Published 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Daniel Hooker
Jun 04, 2010 Daniel Hooker rated it it was ok
Shelves: medicine
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'
Feb 28, 2009 Leslie rated it liked it
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'
Evi Yuniati
May 24, 2010 Evi Yuniati rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-story
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
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.
Feb 18, 2009 Ami rated it did not like it
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
Dec 31, 2011 Jan C rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, canada
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
Jun 27, 2009 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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
Apr 18, 2010 nat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-story
-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
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
Mary Mcqueen
Jun 19, 2015 Mary Mcqueen rated it really liked it
Mr. Engel deduced that he had had a stroke one morning as he looked at his newspaper and saw hieroglyphs instead of words. The interesting feature of this condition was/is that he could still write while not being able to read what was just written.
Interesting to folks interested in brain dysfunctions and recuperation and adjustment to brain damage.
Jun 04, 2015 Melanie rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, medical
I have been reading a lot of books by or about people who have brain injuries lately. This stems from my having had a large brain hemorrhage about 1.5 years ago. I'm always interested in other people's stories.

Mr. Engle and I have much in common, like Engle, I was once a writer, though not as successful. Unlike Engle, I do not have alexia. We both had injuries in the visual cortex, his on the left and mine on the right. We both have difficulty reading, although for different reasons. We both hav
Tom Donaghey
Apr 15, 2015 Tom Donaghey rated it really liked it
THE MAN WHO FORGOT HOW TO READ by Howard Engel is yet another treatise on the odd and confusing thing we call the brain. Having suffered a minor stroke while sleeping, novelist Engel discovered to his great dismay he could no longer read. As the letters of his morning paper shifted from one script to another, the full range of his despair crept upon him.
This is the true tale of a writer who could still write, but couldn’t read what was on the page he just produced. This is his story of struggl
Feb 05, 2016 Jo-anne rated it really liked it
My first Howard Engel book I read was 'Memory Book' in which I was introduced to detective Benny Cooperman who as a result of head trauma was suffering from alexia sine agraphia. Now reading Engel's memoir of his real life experience with alexia, I am filled with admiration for his ability to continue on a path seeking the written word which he can't read or at least without great difficulty. The book is disjointed at times but this is the authentic experience of the author who continues to life ...more
Jul 15, 2008 Artslyz rated it liked it
enjoyable. not an oliver sacks book, but still an interesting step into neurology for the non-scientist!
Jun 12, 2015 Crissy rated it liked it
At one time a patient of Oliver Sachs, Engel is quite intelligent with a compelling narrative voice. I do wish he'd spent more time on the specific work he did with the therapists to overcome his sudden neurological deficit. I know it could have gotten boring, but a couple of chapters would have been fascinating. This book focuses on his reaction, his son's and the family, friends and medical personnel who helped them. Mostly, he discusses his own concern and incredulity about what is happening ...more
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
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
Feb 24, 2013 Lien rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pindahtangan
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
Yuu Sasih
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
Lianne Burwell
Oct 03, 2011 Lianne Burwell rated it really liked it
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
Jul 20, 2015 mbattist rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-canada
Remarkable story of perseverance and just plain stubborness, Engel figures out how to read again after a stroke. Oliver Sacks makes a guest appearance. As Engel works through his rehabilitation, his next Benny Cooperman mystery evolves, The Memory Book - which is a fantastic read. Nice to have the background and hopefully there will be more Benny Coopermans to come.
Shonna Froebel
Nov 18, 2012 Shonna Froebel rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian
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
Jul 07, 2015 Leah rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book, but didn't. i heard an interview with Engel on the CBC show Tapestry, and found his story so compelling that i wanted to read the book. The interview was compelling, the book not so much. There were snippets of finely crafted prose, but they were few and far between. i wanted to be interested, i wanted to care, but i didn't.
Jane Dugger
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
Apr 23, 2015 Alida rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 16, 2015 Joanne-in-Canada rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Less scientific detail that I would have liked, and a bit repetitive.
Mar 12, 2011 Asfarian rated it liked it
Shelves: in-my-bookshelf
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
Apr 14, 2015 Rachel rated it liked it
This is an interesting topic – losing a fundamental skill due to stroke and how one recovers from that – and I'm always fascinated by neurology. That's what got the book three stars. The other two were lost for the same reason. Although the writing was a testament to Engel's hard work and determination, it was repetitive and dry. I know that was a representation of where the author was at in his recovery, but it didn't make for great reading. I would recommend it because it's short and a worthwh ...more
Nov 11, 2014 Rilly rated it liked it
great book to read
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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
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