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

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,990 Ratings  ·  300 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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Aug 13, 2008 Donna rated it really liked it
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
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
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
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
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
Nov 25, 2008 Michelle rated it it was ok
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
Kat Young
Jun 06, 2009 Kat Young rated it liked it
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
Jan 06, 2014 Angela rated it it was amazing
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
Holly Lee (Bellas Novella)
Jan 08, 2010 Holly Lee (Bellas Novella) rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
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
Charles Matthews
Dec 07, 2009 Charles Matthews rated it liked it
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
Feb 17, 2013 Kristin rated it it was ok
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
Carolyn Browne
Jan 23, 2016 Carolyn Browne rated it it was ok
Shelves: brain-lifts
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 13witty, 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 19s Kitchen Confidential 13a unique insider 19s memoir of a fascinating profession. Neurosurgeons are renowned for their big egos and agg ...more
Tracey Williams
Apr 06, 2015 Tracey Williams rated it really liked it
A quick read. I'm enthralled with anything brain related so the content was already the hook. I liked her case studies and her approach of knowing when to step away humbly when medicine can do no more or would cause more harm. When I listen to neurosurgeons, more so than other surgeons, I hear how idealistic they start off being and how that doesn't serve them or their patients well. They develop this almost jaded perspective because they do deal with life and death every day, and it seems the w ...more
Feb 01, 2015 Katie rated it really liked it
Memoir from a female neurosurgeon, all about the practice of neurosurgery, her experiences during her education, training, and work life, and lots of anecdotes about interesting patients. One patient had a half-degraded skull with maggots crawling out of his eye socket (oh - I should mention - don't read if you're squeamish), and one patient had incurable hiccups after coronary bypass surgery - why?? How bizarre is that? The body and brain interact in such complex ways, it feels impossible that ...more
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.

Feb 24, 2009 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 09, 2011 Laurie rated it liked it
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.
May 01, 2016 Sue rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, medicine
If you enjoy vicariously living the daily professional life of others, this is an easily readable, entertaining look at "a day in the life of a brain surgeon." This particular brain surgeon is female, which for those of my generation adds an extra measure of pizazz to the book. (No girl in my entire high school class in a small Midwestern city in the 1960's/70's ever dreamed, I am sure, that she could aspire to a career in neurosurgery.) I sometimes found Firlik's voice annoyingly superior, but ...more
Jun 24, 2011 Adrienne rated it really liked it
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! :)
Mar 21, 2014 Melissa rated it really liked it
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
The main character Katrina Firlik very much enjoys her job. “I to be honest love my job, I don’t think my other associates love it as much as I do.” Katrina loves her job very much and she is not afraid to say it. “ 9. Firlik sometimes has to leave her family on short notice to go to work. “Beep went my pager. A Man with a nail stuck in the top of his head” 19. Firlik has to cut the time with her family in half because most of the time she is at the office. Firliks father was a neurosurgeon too. ...more
Sep 01, 2014 Lauren rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
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
Melanie Winter
May 18, 2016 Melanie Winter rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 11, 2015 Brandy rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed the day to day look at the author's life as a neurosurgeon (and her previous days as a student). The book can rub some people the wrong way since she's not sugar coating anything. That doesn't necessarily come across as heartless to me, but I could see how some readers might get the impression. She seems to care about her patients and truly want what's best for them, even if it's not what they want to hear.

Overall, the book was a peek into the mind of a woman I'd trust with my own bra
Jan 17, 2015 Elaine rated it it was amazing
Katrina Firlik, the author of Another Day in the Frontal Lobe, talks about her life as a neurosurgeon, a job that most people can only dream to have. With chapters of her life written in chronological order, the reader can easily get a grasp on how a medical student becomes a surgical resident, and then a highly skilled neurosurgeon. This book is not written in the usual dry, humorless language that most people expect medical books to be written in. Instead, Katrina Firlik fills her memoir with ...more
Nov 04, 2008 Mellissa rated it really liked it
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
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
May 07, 2010 Becca rated it liked it
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
Nov 22, 2012 Kristen rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jennifer Ready
Jan 31, 2008 Jennifer Ready rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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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