On the Move: A Life – Oliver Sacks

I’ve chosen Oliver Sacks’s autobiography because it tells us about how he became the man who wrote those books.

Experts who have recommended this book

In an interview on Emotion and the Brain

Interview Extract:

That leads quite neatly into the story that Oliver Sacks has given us about his life. Oliver Sacks, a superb writer as well as neurologist, is probably most famous for his book The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat. This book, On the Move, is his recently published autobiography.

One of the reasons I got interested in neuroscience was because of the way Oliver Sacks uses stories to illuminate science. He took people on the margins, with neurological syndromes — like the man who had an injury which meant that the part of his brain that processes faces no longer worked, he was The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat — and told us the reality about what it was like to be that person. His stories are brimming with life, they are full of little things that make you feel for the character. Another great story he wrote was An Anthropologist on Mars. This was about a woman with Asperger’s who said she couldn’t really understand the motives of other people. She felt like an anthropologist on Mars trying to understand and develop an empathic response to others. Her name is Temple Grandin and she actually has a PhD in animal husbandry. She designs abattoirs and creates the most humane situation for these animals before they are killed. She finds it difficult to understand other people, so she designs a machine she can control. She understands what empathy is, but she’s never been on the inside. She reads novels but she doesn’t crawl inside the narrative of those who are telling stories.

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