Posted in Challenge Accepted, The 12 Books of Christmas Break

12 Books of Christmas Break: The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons

Humans do rely on vision to an extraordinary degree, and our visual circuits occupy far more brain territory than other sensory circuits. It’s no surprise that looks are so tied up in our sense of self.

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OMG, you guys. O.M.G.

It has been a long freaking time since I was actually this wrapped up in a nonfiction book. I actually went to the public library about halfway through and checked out Sam Kean’s other two books because I desperately needed to read them, stat. I’m not letting myself do it until after I finish my twelve, though, because they’re rather thick tomes.

Title: The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons
Author: Sam Kean
Genre: Nonfiction
Erin’s teaser synopsis: The hard part about giving a synopsis of this book is that it’s nonfiction, and therefore lacks an actual plot. But what you need to know is that this book takes you through the biggest historical discoveries and research conducted on/about the brain in order to explain the science behind how our noggins work. Now, I have to admit to getting a touch lost here and there when the historical recounts stopped and the technical jargon took over to explain the actual science behind the discovery, but what I did understand was a hell of a lot more than I had previously. Some of the topics covered are: the brains and motivations behind assassins, the fragility of the brain as proven by King Henri, kuru, phantom limbs, and other mental diseases.
Why I relate to it: As many of my friends and readers will know, I have spent the better part of four years getting healthier – both mentally and physically, yet I still find the brain to be a large mystery for the most part. Reading this book made things so much clearer and, surprisingly, gave me some answers as to why I struggle more than I think I should occasionally. For example, I have one of the forms of synesthesia. I didn’t know it was so varied an affliction, but now I understand myself better. Also, reading the chapter on brain damage and how important appearance and sight are to our identities helped me understand why I’ve struggled to accept the “new me” even though the changes are positive. (See intro quote.)
Judgement call: As you may have noticed, this book rocked my socks off. Everyone should read it, both because it’s a smart, enjoyable read, and because it will give you insight into your own psyche as well as others’.

Buy it here to improve your life skills.



We seek to learn, and when academics do not present the answers, we look inside our own beautiful imaginations for the key.

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