Sunday, April 26, 2015


It's that time of the year when the To-Do List seems to replicate itself exponentially. 

Case in point: I spent all of last week reminding myself that "all" I "had to do" was "make it to Friday 5:00 p.m.."  At that point, I'd have the weekend for myself.

Well, sort of.  Because this weekend, I need to finish the gift I'm knitting.  I've got until later in the week, but I've decided that it needs to be basically finished by tonight (or so), if I want to make sure I have time to wash and block it and not run the risk of giving someone a damp gift.

That just sort of kills the mood, in my opinion.

But the plus side of the non-stop knitting weekend is that it gives me time to catch up on some reading.  (Yes, I can read and knit simultaneously.  It depends on the pattern, of course, but I always try to have one reading-friendly knitting project in the works.)

I finished The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons (2014) by Sam Kean.  The down side is, because I spent months working my way through it, little by little, I find the task of blogging about it nearly impossible.

My overall impression of it was, it was good, most of the time.  Some of it was a bit repetitive for me--I'd heard some of the "True Stories of Trauma, Madness and Recovery" announced in the title already.

I would also say that the stories tended to focus more on the "trauma" and "madness" topics than on the "recovery."  Some pretty gruesome head-injury stories in there--but then, that is often the case in books about the study of the brain.

Because I'm quirky like that, I liked Kean's discussion of odd brain diseases and their effects.  Some of them make the symptoms of Alzheimers pale by comparison, if you can believe that.

I also liked his discussion of the history behind diseases like beriberi and kuru.  (I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm not like the other girls.)

I think where I began to lose interest was when the stories focused on male rivalries--ironically, the "dueling neurosurgeons" of the books title were of little interest to me. 

What can I say?  Competitive men get on my nerves.  And competitive men who carve up other people's brains and/or undertake disturbing experiments on cats?  Really not my thing. 

Overall, I'd recommend Kean's book to anyone who has an interest in brain studies: it offers an interesting overview of key cases and historically significant developments, and his writing style is very accessible.  If you've read a decent amount of the literature out there about brain development and/or brain studies, though, you might find Kean's book a bit repetitive and--on occasion--a little campy.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."