Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks, 2008

Sacks, who died earlier this year, was a polymath—neurologist, scientist, musician, prolific writer—who delves into the special physiologic, anatomic, and emotional wiring that makes music such a special language and art for the human being.  While I usually enjoy Sacks’ writing, this book was a bit too disorganized and random for me to embrace it fully.  As a lover of music but a complete novice when it comes to understanding its organization, language, usage, etc, I had hoped for a primer on musical terminology and structure that would then connect with my slightly better grasp of neuroanatomy and neuroscience.  Not to be.  Sacks skips from musical brainworms and hallucinations to dementia to brain injury to dystonia to Williams Syndrome and on and on, using his usual facility with individual case histories to fascinate and titillate the reader but failing to tie it all together into some overriding story.  Nonetheless, it’s a fascinating journey through our brain’s relationship with music.