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

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  3,260 Ratings  ·  313 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
Published February 15th 2007 by Phoenix (first published January 1st 2006)
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Aug 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
Oct 25, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sara Tranum
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Busy moms (and dads), here is a book that is not for the faint of heart, but one that will likely touch yours. I first read Another Day in the Frontal Lobe in the midst of my graduate program, preparing to become a physician assistant. Dr. Firlik fascinated me, right off the bat, not only for the fascinating stories and experiences she had to share, but also for the natural way she told the stories. It's no small feat for someone with a high level of intelligence to explain a complex condition o ...more
Holly Lee (Bellas Novella)
Jan 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 17, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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 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 01, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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! :)
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. The brain is fascinating and I thought Dr. Firlik did a great job expressing how magnificent the brain is and all the crazy things that can occur with the brain.
I guess my only irritation with the book was Dr. Firlik's attitude toward religion. Her attitude was a "it's cute when people believe in God". But I would assume that this might be a fairly common attitude in the medical field. I'm not sure her her opinion on the matter of religion was really necessary in the
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes the writer would go off on a tangent about art and that would lose my interest but it would always come back to a valid point and I guess every author has to pain the portrait using what they think people can relate to. The chapters were a bit long but I've all I loved this book.
Jennifer Babineaux

I've read much better books about medicine. I basically skimmed it - it didn't hold my interest.

I think if you have a medical background, it's not very profound or interesting. "Do No Harm" by Henry Marsh is much better read for those interested in neurosurgery.
Erin Burke
Oct 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book Another Day in the Frontal Lobe by Katrina Firlik is an exciting autobiography about a female neurosurgeon. Katrina Firlik tells her story of becoming a neurosurgeon and how she became so successful in a career field predominantly ruled by men. She also shares anecdotes of her meaningful experiences and the lessons that she learned along the way. She explains how her life and schedule changed after she became a neurosurgeon, and the challenges she’s faced in following her dream career. ...more
Sep 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blog-shelf
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
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
I am a sucker for both medical memoirs and the field of neurosurgery, and this book by Katrina Firlik did not disappoint on both fronts. Smart, compassionate and witty, with just the right dose of sarcasm and wonder. Firlik also does a great job of explaining complex medical issues in plain English, no medical background knowledge required.
Jan 03, 2008 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
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Started out interesting but quickly lost interest. By the end, I was skimming.
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Tracey Williams
Apr 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Faith Kelly
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book so much!!!!
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my take on the frontal lobe 2 19 Dec 28, 2008 07:44PM  
  • Just Here Trying to Save a Few Lives: Tales of Life and Death from the ER
  • On Call: A Doctor's Days and Nights in Residency
  • When the Air Hits Your Brain: Tales of Neurosurgery
  • Hot Lights, Cold Steel: Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in a Surgeon's First Years
  • Brain Surgeon: A Doctor's Inspiring Encounters with Mortality and Miracles
  • The Intern Blues: The Timeless Classic About the Making of a Doctor
  • Match Day: One Day and One Dramatic Year in the Lives of Three New Doctors
  • Walk on Water: The Miracle of Saving Children's Lives
  • White Coat: Becoming A Doctor At Harvard Medical School
  • Something for the Pain: Compassion and Burnout in the ER
  • Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue
  • Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality
  • Becoming a Doctor: A Journey of Initiation in Medical School
  • Intern: A Doctor's Initiation
  • Emergency!: True Stories From The Nation's ERs
  • Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath
  • Body of Work: Meditations on Mortality from the Human Anatomy Lab
  • Baby ER: The Heroic Doctors and Nurses Who Perform Medicine's Tiniest Miracles
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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