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Everything in Its Place: First Loves and Last Tales

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From the bestselling author of Gratitude andOn the Move, a final volume of essays that showcases Sacks's broad range of interests--from his passions for ferns, swimming, and horsetails, to his final case histories exploring schizophrenia, dementia, and Alzheimer's. Oliver Sacks, renowned scientist and storyteller, is adored by readers for his neurological case histories, hi From the bestselling author of Gratitude andOn the Move, a final volume of essays that showcases Sacks's broad range of interests--from his passions for ferns, swimming, and horsetails, to his final case histories exploring schizophrenia, dementia, and Alzheimer's. Oliver Sacks, renowned scientist and storyteller, is adored by readers for his neurological case histories, his fascination and familiarity with human behaviour at its most unexpected and unfamiliar. Everything in Its Place is a celebration of Sacks's myriad interests, all told with his characteristic compassion, erudition, and luminous prose. From the celebrated case history of Spalding Gray that appeared in The New Yorker four months before his death to reflections on mental asylums; from piercing accounts of Schizophrenia to a reminiscence of Robin Williams; from the riveting tale of a medical colleague falling victim to Alzheimer's to the cinematography of Michael Powell, this volume celebrates and reflects the wondrous curiosity of Oliver Sacks.


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From the bestselling author of Gratitude andOn the Move, a final volume of essays that showcases Sacks's broad range of interests--from his passions for ferns, swimming, and horsetails, to his final case histories exploring schizophrenia, dementia, and Alzheimer's. Oliver Sacks, renowned scientist and storyteller, is adored by readers for his neurological case histories, hi From the bestselling author of Gratitude andOn the Move, a final volume of essays that showcases Sacks's broad range of interests--from his passions for ferns, swimming, and horsetails, to his final case histories exploring schizophrenia, dementia, and Alzheimer's. Oliver Sacks, renowned scientist and storyteller, is adored by readers for his neurological case histories, his fascination and familiarity with human behaviour at its most unexpected and unfamiliar. Everything in Its Place is a celebration of Sacks's myriad interests, all told with his characteristic compassion, erudition, and luminous prose. From the celebrated case history of Spalding Gray that appeared in The New Yorker four months before his death to reflections on mental asylums; from piercing accounts of Schizophrenia to a reminiscence of Robin Williams; from the riveting tale of a medical colleague falling victim to Alzheimer's to the cinematography of Michael Powell, this volume celebrates and reflects the wondrous curiosity of Oliver Sacks.

30 review for Everything in Its Place: First Loves and Last Tales

  1. 5 out of 5

    Simon Fletcher

    It's with tears in my eyes that I turn the last page on this book. Oliver Sacks was for me the benchmark; the medical and scientific writer by which all others were judged and largely found wanting. I remember watching a series of programmes he made for UK television when I was a teenager and being amazed by the vastness of his knowledge, his enthusiasm and his humanity. A few years later having watched and read Awakenings his writing became a permanent fixture in my reading. As each new book cam It's with tears in my eyes that I turn the last page on this book. Oliver Sacks was for me the benchmark; the medical and scientific writer by which all others were judged and largely found wanting. I remember watching a series of programmes he made for UK television when I was a teenager and being amazed by the vastness of his knowledge, his enthusiasm and his humanity. A few years later having watched and read Awakenings his writing became a permanent fixture in my reading. As each new book came out it instantly went to the top of my 'to read list'. This though will be his last new book and what a book it was. Sometimes these kind of books, collections of essays and monographs can be a little hit and miss, they tend to collate things the writer never intended to go into a book as they don't fit or weren't right. This though is a gem. Every article has been thought about and curated perfectly to show the breadth of Sacks' work and interests. If I'm honest this isn't his best book (nothing could top either Awakenings or On The Move) but as it's his last it gets *****. Beautiful from cover to cover.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Valeri Drach

    This book of short essays by Oliver Sachs is beautiful. They are gathered from different years of his life and show the scope of his humanity and vast knowledge on many varied topics from bipolar disorder to the invention of cinematography. But underneath is his vast knowledge of neurology and how it affects our humanity. His loss will always be felt.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    Any time spent with Dr Sacks is time well spent.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I received an ARC copy of this - thank you!! I adore Oliver Sacks and his writing - all manner of his writing - his write-ups of strange neurological cases, his memoirs, his broader science and biographical writing. I haven't read all of his works but probably at least half, including On The Move, The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, A Leg to Stand On, and An Anthropologist on Mars. When reading this collection, I realized that my very favorite pieces of his are his writeups of patients, especi I received an ARC copy of this - thank you!! I adore Oliver Sacks and his writing - all manner of his writing - his write-ups of strange neurological cases, his memoirs, his broader science and biographical writing. I haven't read all of his works but probably at least half, including On The Move, The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, A Leg to Stand On, and An Anthropologist on Mars. When reading this collection, I realized that my very favorite pieces of his are his writeups of patients, especially diagnostic mysteries. Nobody does it quite like him. I do wish there were more of those pieces in the book - but perhaps there just aren't many more left that hadn't been published. And I had read one or two that had been published, at least one of the in the New Yorker. A couple of the longer pieces at the beginning of the book could have used a stronger editing hand; it felt like there was quite a lot of fat that could have been trimmed. (But then, I find that to be the case in so many books these days...)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Barron_Author

    Review to follow, in Otago Daily Times and on www.lovewordsmusic.com Favourite quotes: So it is not just about the absence of disease or preservation of function that we should be concerned with, but the potential for continuing development throughout life. Cerebral function is not like cardiac or renal function, which proceeds autonomously, almost mechanically, in a family uniform way throughout a life. The brain/mind, in contrast, is anything but automatic, for it is always seeking, at every lev Review to follow, in Otago Daily Times and on www.lovewordsmusic.com Favourite quotes: So it is not just about the absence of disease or preservation of function that we should be concerned with, but the potential for continuing development throughout life. Cerebral function is not like cardiac or renal function, which proceeds autonomously, almost mechanically, in a family uniform way throughout a life. The brain/mind, in contrast, is anything but automatic, for it is always seeking, at every level from the perceptual to the philosophical, to categorize and recategorized the world, to comprehend and give meaning to its own experience. It is the nature of living a real life that experience is not uniform, but ever changing and ever challenging and requiring more and more comprehensive integration. It is not enough for the brain/mind simply to tick over, maintaining uniform function (like the heart); it must adventure and advance throughout life. The very concept of health or wellness requires a special definition in relation to the brain. . . . If the brain is to stay healthy, it must remain active, wondering, playing, exploring, and experimenting right to the end. (page 152/3) Perhaps, too, it will remind us of what a narrow ridge of normality we all inhabit, with the abysses of mania and depression yawning to either side. (page 183) There are certain passions—one wants to call them innocent, ingenuous passions—that are great democratizers. Baseball, music, and bird-watching come immediately to mind. At the herring festival, there was no talk about the stock market, no gossiping about celebrities. People had come to eat herring—to savor them, to compare them. (page 213) In forty years of medical practice, I have found only two types of non-pharmaceutiful "therapy" to be vitally important for patients with chronic neurological diseases: music and gardens. (page 243) I cannot say exactly how nature exerts its calming and organizing effects on our brains, but I have seen in my patients the restorative and healing powers of nature and gardens, even for those who are deeply disables neurologically. In many cases, gardens and nature are more powerful than any medication. (page 245). I have a number of patients with very advanced dementia or Alzheimer's disease, who may have very little sense of orientation to their surroundings. They have forgotten, or cannot access, how to tie their shoes or handle cooking implements. But put them in front of a flower bed with some seedlings, and they will know exactly what to do—I have never seen such a patient plant something upside down. (page 245) Clearly, nature calls to something very deep in us. Biophilia, the love of nature and living things, is an essential part of the human condition. Hortophilia, the desire to interact with, manage, and tend nature, is also deeply instilled in us. (page 246) [On iPhones and tech]: I worry more about the subtle, pervasive drawing out of meaning, of intimate contact, from our society and culture. (page 257) . . . What we are seeing—and bringing on ourselves—resembles a neurological catastrophe on a gigantic scale. (page 258).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andy Zell

    I really enjoyed this collection of short pieces by Oliver Sacks. I've known about Dr. Sacks ever since I saw Robin Williams portray a doctor modeled after him in the movie version of Awakenings. The movie was one of my favorites in my early high school days (curiously, our copy was in black and white when our VCR mysteriously taped it that way during an HBO free weekend, but I liked it that way). Years later I listened to Dr. Sacks on multiple occasions when he was a guest on the Radiolab podca I really enjoyed this collection of short pieces by Oliver Sacks. I've known about Dr. Sacks ever since I saw Robin Williams portray a doctor modeled after him in the movie version of Awakenings. The movie was one of my favorites in my early high school days (curiously, our copy was in black and white when our VCR mysteriously taped it that way during an HBO free weekend, but I liked it that way). Years later I listened to Dr. Sacks on multiple occasions when he was a guest on the Radiolab podcast (I highly recommend checking those out). I started reading some case studies in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, but I haven't finished the book (but I'm going to go back to it, and after reading this collection, I think I'll read most of his books). Everything in Its Place has three types of essays: memoir-ish personal stories, history of science stories, and case studies. All of them have their charms, and I learned a lot from each of them. The personal essays, at least some of them, felt like they might have been culled from his autobiography. He writes eloquently about going to libraries and museums as a child, or driving on a motorcycle across America while waiting for his green card. In the history of science pieces, I especially enjoyed the one that detailed the history of taking pictures of animals to study their gaits, which led to the zoetrope and early motion pictures. The case studies are the centerpiece of the book and may be what Dr. Sacks is most known for. He offers patients with Tourette's, dementia, and schizophrenia, among other ailments. Sacks is always compassionate and curious about the human condition. The only false note was an essay where Dr. Sacks complains about smartphones. Not that there aren't plenty of valid criticisms to make about our ubiquitous pocket screens, but Sacks does it without any nuance and comes across as an old man shaking his fist at the clouds. But I can forgive him for this one. The rest of the book is wonderful. I received a copy of Everything in Its Place from the publisher in a Goodreads giveaway.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nick Rolston

    Sacks tells a stream-of-consciousness set of stories in this final memoir as the end of his life loomed. Like most of his books, he shared some clinical tales that were particularly fascinating, my favorite of which which related to a man who suffered from a thyroid malfunction that caused him to remain in a cold stupor with a body temperature 30 degrees below normal. His family finally consulted with doctors after nearly a decade of being frozen in time, and a quick procedure re-energized him w Sacks tells a stream-of-consciousness set of stories in this final memoir as the end of his life loomed. Like most of his books, he shared some clinical tales that were particularly fascinating, my favorite of which which related to a man who suffered from a thyroid malfunction that caused him to remain in a cold stupor with a body temperature 30 degrees below normal. His family finally consulted with doctors after nearly a decade of being frozen in time, and a quick procedure re-energized him with no memory of the years spent in the stupor. Ironically, as his body began to function again, it turned out he also carried a very malignant cancer that quickly metastasized and took his life. Sacks also reflected on his life from his early days as an athlete to his final days re-discovering a childhood dish of gefilte fish when he was unable to digest other foods that reminded him of the circular nature of life.

  8. 4 out of 5

    ⋟Kimari⋞

    You might also enjoy: ✱ Gratitude ✱ On the Move: A Life ✱ The River of Consciousness ✱ Musicophilia ✱ Hallucinations ✱ The Disappearing Spoon ✱ Forgetting ✱ The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness ✱ A Field Guide to Getting Lost ✱ Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Watts

    As an incredibly dynamic storyteller and prolific writer, Oliver Sacks’ final work is gripping in its unique range of topics, prose style, and, ultimately, catalogues a range of experiences, thoughts, and wisdom, of one of the greatest neurologists of our time. With introspective pieces intermixed with his spin on clinical cases, the structure of the novel leans easily to the science and non-science inclined alike—a book that I think anyone should read, if given the chance, regardless of their a As an incredibly dynamic storyteller and prolific writer, Oliver Sacks’ final work is gripping in its unique range of topics, prose style, and, ultimately, catalogues a range of experiences, thoughts, and wisdom, of one of the greatest neurologists of our time. With introspective pieces intermixed with his spin on clinical cases, the structure of the novel leans easily to the science and non-science inclined alike—a book that I think anyone should read, if given the chance, regardless of their academic background.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Prashaantbhujbal

    A beautiful memoir. Before I comment on the contents,wish to thank to the publishers to make the kindle edition available at one third of the paper copy. Like Sacks, I also love the hard copy books , its smell , its feel in the hand and the way it sits on my table or in cupboards. Bought the digital as it was cheap. Now coming to the contents , all are his beautiful and many times poignant essays published elsewhere. Sacks himself had this arranged in his last days. Reading one at a time so I can A beautiful memoir. Before I comment on the contents,wish to thank to the publishers to make the kindle edition available at one third of the paper copy. Like Sacks, I also love the hard copy books , its smell , its feel in the hand and the way it sits on my table or in cupboards. Bought the digital as it was cheap. Now coming to the contents , all are his beautiful and many times poignant essays published elsewhere. Sacks himself had this arranged in his last days. Reading one at a time so I can keep reading it a while. Strong recommended.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Judith

    This volume is a mixture of essays: personal biography and some narrative of psychological experiences with patients. Topics range from a consideration of what social media does to minds, to Humphrey Davy, Colorado Springs, psychosis, aging, Tourette's syndrome. What holds all of these variant topics together is OS's humanity, humility, and honesty. As in his other books, Oliver's wide reading, sympathy for the human condition, gratitude for those who influenced and taught him come through. The This volume is a mixture of essays: personal biography and some narrative of psychological experiences with patients. Topics range from a consideration of what social media does to minds, to Humphrey Davy, Colorado Springs, psychosis, aging, Tourette's syndrome. What holds all of these variant topics together is OS's humanity, humility, and honesty. As in his other books, Oliver's wide reading, sympathy for the human condition, gratitude for those who influenced and taught him come through. The essays are mostly short, but will last long in ones' memory.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Cesare

    Very enjoyable collection of essays and stories from Sacks. I’ve been a longtime fan since finding “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” on my mom’s bookshelf sometime as a child. My favorite piece from this set was a story recalling one summer when he and a couple of other nerdy science friends decided they would attempt to scientifically jar preserve some cuttlefish in one of their basements. Hilariously disgusting outcome. Also loved the piece on libraries and their meaning in his life.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Corey Nelson

    Not the first Oliver Sacks book I bought, but the first I read. It started off with how he likes swimming...a lot. This turned not just into memories, but wonderful stories of how Mr Sacks learned, was inspired, and with some of his final thoughts on how the world works. The last article was the most compelling for me, and I teared up a bit, as I recently lost my husband far too early. But the chapter on dementia and the loss of attention into smartphones was thought-provoking beyond anything el Not the first Oliver Sacks book I bought, but the first I read. It started off with how he likes swimming...a lot. This turned not just into memories, but wonderful stories of how Mr Sacks learned, was inspired, and with some of his final thoughts on how the world works. The last article was the most compelling for me, and I teared up a bit, as I recently lost my husband far too early. But the chapter on dementia and the loss of attention into smartphones was thought-provoking beyond anything else in a long time. This book just got better with each chapter and I wholly recommend it to anyone that appreciates the quest for knowledge. This is a memoir of Mr. Sacks' life in snippets as he discovered science, life, and how he was able to also contribute to the common good. He never lost his inquisitive nature.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    Oliver Sacks is truly a Renaissance man! From ferns to gingkos to pickled herring, and of course neurology - the man knows it all and writes about it in a way that is totally relatable. That said, I wish I had enjoyed this book more. The clinical tales were slight and not half as interesting as the ones which fill his other books, and some of the other topics just didn't hold my interest. He was an amazing man!

  15. 4 out of 5

    David

    Many tributes have been written to Oliver Sacks. After having read this book and several of his other books I can say those tributes are well deserved. Sacks was a brilliant, curious, well read and well spoken man comfortable writing with feeling and authority about a wide range of subjects. Living with madness. Life in space. His mother’s gefilte fish. All beautiful. His writing is a gift.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Christina Dudley

    This little collection of essays combines memoir with references to his own past works with a few curmudgeonly pieces on how the world has changed (for the worse, of course). In that way it reminded me of Bill Bryson's old-man grumping in THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBLING. I would have loved to hear more Alzheimer's stories, since I don't recall his other books that I've read talking in depth about something so awful and increasingly common, but the few brain essays there were were as good as usual.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Pope Lonergan

    The surfeit of compassion; the probing curiosity; the complete and utter humanity within his writing. This is why I’m drawn to Sacks time and time again. Just knowing he was here, tending to troubled minds, pairing medical knowledge with holistic necessity, encouraged me to be a better person. Now he’s passed I see his vacant imprint; I see the impact of this negation. We’ve lost a man who found it easy to love despite living in a world where our capacity to love is palsied.

  18. 5 out of 5

    T

    As with most collections of essays, some of these essays were riveting and exceptional and others didn't appeal. I especially enjoyed Water Babies, his description of a lifelong love of swimming, and others on his love of excellent museums and libraries. Tea and Toast depicted an elderly lady thought to have Alzheimer's but really only suffering from B-12 deficiency due to taking omeprazole for heartburn. The importance of music and visiting nature or gardens to mental health is emphasized.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    Perhaps the final thoughtful writings by Oliver Sacks. A nice mix of topics. I look forward to the upcoming book: And How Are You, Dr. Sacks?: A Biographical Memoir Of Oliver Sacks by Weschler, Lawrence to see if there is a different perspective of Oliver Sacks, since Dr. Sacks had revealed so much of himself in his own works.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Parham Golestanian

    Many of these stories were gripping and thought-provoking, but many also made me skip pages. Perhaps I went into this read expecting more scientific explanation rather than a personal narrative, and am myself to blame. As a newcomer to Sacks' writing, I believe this piece might be better suited for those whom have read his other pieces and wanted a deeper look into his personal life.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gunjan

    Short, easy, touching essays. I bought this because of his short essay on gardens that was published online as an excerpt but stayed for the stories about his patients and essays about things like mental asylums, old scientists, ferns, etc. Worth a read, worth reading again as well.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    2.5 As always, enjoyed some essays more than others. My favorite was probably the London museums.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    Stunning.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Full of information, warmth, enjoyed almost everything!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    Wonderful as all Sacks books are

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anita

    Many of these stories had not been previously published, some written toward the end of his life. Wonderful reading.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Fay

    This book was published posthumously and has a very different feel to the author's other wonderful works.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alison King

    Read 67%

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sheridan Hopkins

    While so much of Mr Sacks writing is about the mind it is his huge heart that weaves its way through the narrative. I wish there was a world of men as large as he was.

  30. 5 out of 5

    KathyNV

    Through a compilation of personal remembrances, case studies and essays “Everything in Its Place” helps you get to know the late gifted neurologist Oliver Sacks. He looks at complicated issues from a different perspective than the norm and by doing so makes them easier to understand. His essays relating his thoughts and experiences on a wide range of topics are very passionate and caring. Though his writings you can feel his wonder and respect for science, his patients and the world around him. Through a compilation of personal remembrances, case studies and essays “Everything in Its Place” helps you get to know the late gifted neurologist Oliver Sacks. He looks at complicated issues from a different perspective than the norm and by doing so makes them easier to understand. His essays relating his thoughts and experiences on a wide range of topics are very passionate and caring. Though his writings you can feel his wonder and respect for science, his patients and the world around him. His topics range from Dreams, Hiccups and Alzheimer’s to Libraries, Ferns and Herring! Truly a wonderful read! I received this book in a Knopf Books sponsored Goodreads giveaway.

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