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Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside

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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  2,283 ratings  ·  279 reviews
Katrina Firlik is a neurosurgeon, one of only two hundred or so women among the alpha males who dominate this high-pressure, high-prestige medical specialty. She is also a superbly gifted writer–witty, insightful, at once deeply humane and refreshingly wry. In Another Day in the Frontal Lobe, Dr. Firlik draws on this rare combination to create a neurosurgeon’s Kitchen Conf ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 2nd 2006 by Random House (first published January 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Donna
Aug 13, 2008 Donna rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People with brains
Katrina Firlik writes about brains in much the same way
Click and Clack write about cars--with deep understanding, experience, and irreverence. She makes it clear that a neurosurgeon--or, indeed, any kind of surgeon--is a mechanic first (hopefully an excellent mechanic) and a human being second. Emotions can't be allowed to get in the way of the application of skills honed over many years of intense training and practice.

In Another Day in the Frontal Lobe, Firlik displays keen awareness of the o
...more
Casey
I do research on the mind, which is deeply connected with the brain. However, my experience with the brain is not like Katrina Firlik's experience with the brain. The brains I've gotten to play with have been cadaver brains, which greatly differ in texture from their living counterparts. I find it interesting to see what "lights up" during particular cognitive activities, but I'm far less interested in individual idiosyncrasies than consistences across individuals.

This book provided a fascinati
...more
Barbara Williams
When I was younger, I lived and breathed the quirky show Scrubs. It introduced me The Shins and other indie bands that would become a staple in my everyday listening. But more importantly it felt young, something as an 13 year old I could relate to more than other shows like Seinfeld, which seemed like something my *gulp* parents would watch. Though I was not a dedicated viewer throughout its 9 year run, I would always return back at some point, and I did gather with some friends to watch the se ...more
Samantha
I had really high hopes for this book. I truly enjoy the nitty, gritty stories of medicine and hoped this would really be an insider's look at neurosurgery. Alas, it was not. It was interesting and gave some great historical information about the development and advances of neurosurgery. The cases she presented were really interesting, but there weren't really many of them and she didn't really give much in the way of description as far as surgery goes. The explaination of the different diseases ...more
Maria (Ri)

While a readable and informative inside look at neurosurgery, the tone of the this memoir kept me at bay and from fully enjoying it. Neurosurgery as a discipline attracts the arrogant and overly confident. Dr. Firlik appears to be no exception, though from her own descriptions of colleagues, she is perhaps more relatable to mere non-neurosurgery mortals than some other docs. Having said all that, though I read this for pleasure, I did find it helpful to me in my own medical practice. It provide
...more
Ruth
Jul 23, 2010 Ruth rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone health inquiring
This was a very interesting look into the life of a practicing brain surgeon. The years of education and training required demand total dedication on the part of the student.This personal story of Dr. Firlik was especially interesting because she was one of few women training in a field that had always been a man's world and she sometimes felt she had to prove herself because of it. Concern for the patient was always expressed but sometimes tension was released by the staff by using a little cyn ...more
Kat Young
I really wanted to like this book. It was fun to read about brain things again for a change, and interesting to read about them from a neurosurgeon's point of view. I got super-irritated by her unnecessary (to me) rant against religion, and had a hard time recovering. I think it's possible to state what you believe without belittling those who happen to think differently than you do.

So, a little preachy, a little whiney about money (I seriously do not think she, a practicing neurosurgeon and her
...more
Michelle
This book has some good content but I find myself slightly but repeatedly annoyed at the writing style. I wish the author would step back a little bit and make the book more about neurosurgery and less about herself. There's a little too much I, me, and my in there. You can pull that off if you're really charming or an established public figure... but she's not. Or maybe I'm just a jerk.

Example: In an early chapter she talks about her husband and tells us about a dance he did when she got an A i
...more
Holly Lee (Bellas Novella)
Having been relatively healthy my entire life, I don't have much inside knowledge on the inner workings of a hospital. I thought this book would be an interesting way to find out more. It ended up being a charming memoir, that at times was quite gripping.

The novel is very well written, and was an absolute breeze to read. This took me by surprise, as it is a book about neurosurgery. An impressive first novel from the author, I eagerly await her next.

I don't know about you, but I find myself runni
...more
Charles Matthews
Any writer who sets out to explain to the general reader the juicy workings of the human body has to deal with what might be called the Ew! Factor: Just how much do we really want to know about what goes on in there? On the other hand, TV hospital shows like "ER" and "House" and forensic detective shows like "CSI" have somewhat inured us to the grosser anatomical realities.

Katrina Firlik simply confronts the Ew! Factor in the very first paragraph of her book about neurosurgery, in which she dis
...more
Kristin
I had a difficult time rating this book- it's deserving of 2.5 stars, but not quite 3. As much as I enjoyed the topic and the author's smooth writing style, she presents her story in a condescending manner. A family's choice to elect surgery on an elderly family member's brain should not be referred to as "pathetic". Also, the 'slang' terminology that is used in the medical professions should not be repeated outside a medical facility as the terms sound callous and rude (I will not repeat exampl ...more
Linnae
Did you know the live brain has about the consistency of tofu? Unless it's being squeezed out of the skull under pressure. Then it's more like toothpaste.

I enjoyed the medical stories and descriptions of neurosurgery residency, and found it very readable for the lay person. If the description above was too gross for you, this book may not be the best choice.

Sara
Interesting and conversational. Not as focused as you might expect from someone with such a focused career; her anecdotes wander about, many of them unfinished and unsatisfying. But they are real, and I think that's what counts. Firlik wants to give the reader the real picture, as best she can, and to that end (as far as I can tell) she succeeds.
Laurie
This book gives insight into the life of a female neurosurgeon, peppered with occasional anecdotal patient stories - it was much more heavy on the history of neurosurgery and technique rather than personal experience. She does a great job at explaining things to the layman, but occasionally I found myself getting a bit bored.
Adrienne
I loved the science involved with reading this book, but you don't have to be a brain surgeon to understand it! The art of brain surgery is discussed on a very down-to-earth manner so that everyone can understand. If you're interested in shows like "House" or "Grey's Anatomy", you would like! :)
Angela
I will be straightforward: this book taught me to take life easier, be thankful for every moment I have, and has given me highly precious information explained in a simple way to my understanding.

Perhaps it was the fact that Katrina Firlik is one of the few neurosurgeons in the USA (and I, as a prospective surgeon fascinated by the brain, look up to her)that made me pick this book, in spite of my low budget and long list of similar medical-oriented material. But I am forever grateful for my int
...more
Melissa
As a non-scientist I found Katrina Firlik's book very readable, not just dumbed-down, authentic and even humorous at times. Ms Firlik has a good feel for her main stream audience rather than the scientific community. I loved reading about her struggles to balance life with her husband: who but another doctor could really understand the commitment to becoming a doctor! I was a bit squeamish with some of the neurosurgical situations she encounters throughout her long hosptial days, but they were h ...more
Lauren
I tried very hard to read this book, but in the end, I just found it too dry to continue reading. Admittedly, I am not the most scientific person in the world, but I do enjoy learning, and I was expecting to learn a bit more from this book about the anatomy of the brain and how it works. Instead, I got a lot of information on how to become a neurosurgeon and how their cases and day-to-day duties usually operate. Granted, I set this book down 1/3 of the way through, but there wasn't much compelli ...more
Mellissa
Nov 04, 2008 Mellissa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Medical Students
I found this book an excellent read for anyone thinking about entering the neurosurgical profession or fascinated by a neurosurgeon's workday. I liked the down-to-earth approach to medical jargon and her diagnosis explanations, as well as her humor. I enjoyed hearing about a typical day and some of her not-so-typical cases.

I would agree, there are parts of this book that don't seem to "fit" with the book's theme- such as her views on religion- but I found that most of her comments (in the case
...more
Dree
Disappointing. This book could be so good, but mostly the author manages to present herself as being incredibly arrogant. She is smart, she is neat, she is determined, she is driven, and unfortunately her greatest passion is learning something new (209). Really. That's a quote.

Apparently neurosurgeons are the bestest smartest people out there (p200--What might be accomplished, in addition, if the same group lent some of their collective brain power to, say, improving public education or homeland
...more
Becca
Medical memoirs are my version of brain candy and being weeks away from earning my own M.D. from Dr. Firlik's alma mater, I thought this would be an apropos read. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm part of Dr. Firlik's intended audience. Granted most medical memoirs are written for the layperson, but being some what of a connoisseur of the genre, I can tell you that some are more interesting to those of us who have done are own time in the neurosurgical OR and some of them are less so.

All of this
...more
Kristen
The author does a very nice job walking through the stages of her residency and describing her path to being a neurosurgeon. Overall, I enjoyed the book.

As a psychologist and statistician, I am a bit stunned that these folks don't know how to compute or communicate probabilities and statistics related to things like survival rates and also don't know the details of brain anatomy (names of sulci) that research neuroscientists do. I'm also worried about the statements that your treatment course i
...more
Jennifer Ready
I became interested in this book because my husband was diagnosed with a benign pituitary tumor that caused frontal lobe damage. I am also fascinated by the medical profession and was eager to read this foray into the amazing world of neurosurgery.

I did not receive any further insight into my husband's condition (beyond what I already knew), since this book is a memoir rather than a composition of case studies. Nonetheless, I wasn't disappointed. Firlik is a fantastic writer, and is able to exp
...more
Marsha
Insightful, funny and eye opening, Dr. Firlik’s account of her days spent as a student working her way up the ranks to become a neurosurgeon make for an engrossing read. As to be expected with a journal dealing with the medical profession, there are sprinklings of scientific terms that are a bit difficult for the layperson. However, each one is carefully explained and they don’t bog down the story at all.

From the bizarre to the humbling, these accounts of her journeyman years while she struggle
...more
Hannah
The writer clearly has a strong "smartest girl in the room" complex and frequently points out how she feels those with different beliefs than her are meerly weakminded. She also feels that her profession is a far higher, more noble and a more charitable profession than any work that could be done at a desk. She is not shy in sharing these opinions.

Other than her sometimes poorly thought-out "logical" viewpoints that span the whole book, the book's entertaining cases still probably make it worth
...more
Joshua
Characters: The characters, though only a few with the exception of the author, are always described in great detail by Firlik in terms of speaking style, personality, appearance, and their thoughts on different matters. Each character’s thoughts and feelings are received by her, allowing a clear and accurate relay of the message to the reader, allowing every thought to be easily interpreted. Though the characters are likeable, the amount of dialogue they are allowed is usually dreadfully short, ...more
Madrezenith
Interesting. Firlik has a nice tone, excellent understanding of her field, and fascinating experiences to describe. I wasn't riveted, but it was a nice read on the bus to work. I am an RN, BTW, but have almost no OR experience, and none in neurosurgery. I have had many many stroke patients, though, as well as elderly patients with multiple diagnoses, and patients with seizures. She discusses all of these. What interested me most were her descriptions of surgical rotation and the way that patient ...more
Imran
“It’s not brain surgery.” An oft misunderstood profession, Dr. Firlik exposes the humanity in this profession. Not only does she have a strong grasp of her subject mater, but she expresses it in a way that the physician, the non-physician can enjoy. She makes the technical, easy. She takes us through her residency and humorously tells us tales of her experiences.

Many times medicine can seem obscure, even to the medical student. The one thing I received from this book is an unraveling of the natu
...more
Leah
The writing is uninspired, but not flawed, the ideas are sometimes simplistic and she is sometimes mildly annoying, such as when she gives her readers advice about how to be a good patient. And I've been meaning to be tougher on giving stars, because I always give 4 stars. BUT, I stayed up late because I couldn't stop reading it, and I've been discussing it with everyone because it's a unique and intriguing view into a world I'm not familiar with. Also, it's refreshing to read something so down ...more
Diane
This is not at all the kind of book I normally read but Dr. Firlik's memoir grabbed me from the first page when she describes the brain's texture as being much like tofu. This is a no-nonsense, wry look at life as a neurosurgeon. Katrina Firlik was the first female accepted into her program at the University of Pittsburgh and she never whines about bias or sexism. She goes through her training and appears confident and strong. Her book reveals some of the dark humor in the OR and also much of th ...more
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my take on the frontal lobe 2 19 Dec 28, 2008 07:44PM  
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Katrina is a neurosurgeon-turned-entrepreneur. Her first book is Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside, published by Random House.
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