Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Mind's Eye

The Mind's Eye 
by Oliver Sacks
Published Nov 2010

Each chapter details a unique neurological phenomenon of visual perception - delving into research, case studies, and historical accounts. We learn of a musician, slowly losing the ability to read words or music, aphasic patients with only the ability to mime and gesture, the phenomenon of alexia sine agraphia (losing the ability to read but not the ability to write a language), those who lose the ability to recognize faces or those who are born without the stereoptic ability to perceive depth. The last half of the book becomes surprisingly personal as Sacks shares his own experience with ocular melanoma.

4.5 out of 5 stars: As someone who's masters thesis investigated visual perception (*cough*), this book was straight up my alley. Oliver Sacks never fails to capture the beauty of neuroscience, and this was no exception.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


by Stephanie Danler
Published: May 2016

 At times fantastically poignant, at times cringey: overall, Danler pierces the core of being a hot mess young adult living in New York City. Though I can't relate to working in the service industry, the descriptions of food and booze are mouthwatering and informative- almost makes me want to get into wine.

3.5 out of 5 stars: Beautiful writing, I so enjoyed the ride. But (as a former hot mess of a young adult living in New York City) I found the main character a bit tiresome. Not that I've got self-awareness in spades...

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Sixth Extinction

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
by Elizabeth Kolbert
Published: Jan 2015

 Well researched investigation of the extinction (or near extinction) of species around the globe and how the pieces form evidence of an mass event. Mankind's impact on the earth goes deeper than our CO2 contributions-- the intentional/ unintentional sharing of species across the globe and the isolation of environments with roads and cities have created a simultaneously hyper connected and fragmented New Pangaea. Kolbert travels to Italy, Australia, Brazil to seek out the effects of warming, ocean acidification and invasive speciation. Kolbert manages to cram in a historical account of how scientists came to understand evolution, extinction, and fossilization as well- never a dull chapter.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Monday, March 13, 2017

Spaceman of Bohemia

Spaceman of Bohemia 
by Jaroslav Kalfar
Published: March 2017

So imagine "The Martian" was set in the wreckage of communist Czech Republic and instead of a smirking Matt Damon, our plucky protagonist is a somber space-dust researcher, tormented by childhood demons and constantly teetering on the brink of existential crisis. Anyway, LOVED IT.

5 out of 5 stars

Friday, March 10, 2017

A Manual for Cleaning Women

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories 
by Lucia Berlin
Published: Aug 2015

It seems an autobiography of Lucia Berlin's life was shattered and scattered into different characters and short stories, each giving insight into some facet but none capturing its entirety. Emotionally weighty and quite dark, NYT captured the essence perfectly: "There are stories about cancer and abortions and beatings and desperate addictions; sexual abuse lingers behind others. Deep loneliness is a near constant."

3.5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Return

The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between
by Hisham Matar
Published: July 2016

Writer and poet Hisham Matar investigates the kidnapping and imprisonment of his father as a political prisoner of the Qaddafi regime in Libya. Through interviews with uncles and cousins, he explores the rippling effects of the dictatorship and presents a thorough history of Libyan politics.

5 out of 5 stars: Honestly can't count how many times my eyes welled up on the bus.