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Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
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September 2020: Psychological > Musicophilia - Oliver Sacks - 3 stars

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Nikki | 661 comments I must confess, I found this a little disappointing. I remember loving The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat & An Anthropologist on Mars years ago (the latter sparked my lifelong fascination with Temple Grandin), and more recently I was very impressed by his memoirs Gratitude & On the Move, but this one didn’t live up to my expectations. I found it a little too long and dry. Perhaps because Sacks was attempting to thoroughly cover a subject of huge personal interest to himself, the relevant points were often reached by way of lengthy tangents and digressions.
Although it felt like I waded through a lot of book to get to them, I did pick up some interesting ideas: Che Guevara was rhythm-deaf; speakers of tonal languages are far more likely to develop perfect pitch; synesthesia may be something we are all born with but generally fades in early childhood; the exceptional gifts of ‘savants’ might be achievable for most of us if our other brain functions weren’t suppressing them; music is one of the few things that isn’t distorted in dreams; singing can help people recover the ability to speak; and music can be one of the last ways to reach patients with dementia.
There was plenty of interest here, but I went in with high expectations and they weren't quite met.


message 2: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy | 8970 comments I'm sorry to hear that, as I have been looking forward to this book. Olive Sacks is certainly a great writer with all kinds of insights, but it has to hit just right, and in the right place and right time....


Nikki | 661 comments You're right about it needing to be the right book at the right time - it could be that this was a fine book but just not for me right now, partly because I'd read a few of his before so there was quite a lot of repetition, and partly because I was in the middle of a big move so maybe just didn't have the attention span for it...


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