Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks


With the same trademark compassion and erudition he brought to The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Oliver Sacks explores the place music occupies in the brain and how it affects the human condition. In Musicophilia, he shows us a variety of what he calls “musical misalignments.” Among them: a man struck by lightning who suddenly desires to become a pianist at the age of forty-two; an entire group of children with Williams syndrome, who ar...

Details Musicophilia

Release DateOct 16th, 2007
PublisherKnopf Canada
GenreNonfiction, Music, Science, Psychology, Biology, Neuroscience

Reviews Musicophilia

  • Glenn Sumi
    Have you ever experienced an “ear worm” – i.e., a melody “stuck” in your head? Have you ever found yourself humming or whistling a tune for no reason, then thought back to the lyrics or theme of that song and realized it had something to do with what’s on your mind? Have you ever tried to remember what letter comes after another in the alphabet and found yourself singing that “ABC” song from childhood?Check, check and check.All of...
  • Sarah
    Sacks is, for me, a perfect meeting of a science writer and a writer of creative non-fiction. He has an equal interest in telling an affecting, human story and with exploring how (and why) the brain works. While lots of science writing is dry and objective (as it should be) and while mainstream feature writing often ignores the more complicated science stuff, Sacks is a rare talent who has a penchant for story telling and for explaining the newes...
  • Ana O
    It's all about the music, baby.
  • India Clamp
    Sacks relives the pathologies of musical response in his patients while working at Beth Abraham Hospital. He describes music as a panacea and says, “they were liberated by music.” This applies to patients with dementia and those suffering from Williams Syndrome. Despite low IQ, he honors them in kind descriptive terms: having wide mouths, upturned noses and a true adoration of music. “We humans are a musical species no less than a linguisti...
  • Jafar
    This book was interesting, I guess. Lots of anecdotes about the effect of music on behavior and personality, but not enough analysis. Sacks usually is more of a story teller than a hardcore neuroscientist in his popular book – at least in the other two that I’ve read by him – but in this book he fails to be a good story teller too. Too many tidbits and little stories. I definitely recommend This Is Your Brain on Music over this book if you...
  • Jason
    It’s not a common characteristic, but I recommend this book for all environments where you read. Coffee shop, living room, park bench, subway, or to ignore your spouse--it receives my seal of 4+ stars. Musicophilia is a lurid, but respectable, look into the brains and lives of people that appear normal on the outside, but have strong, strange and intractable relationships to music. The relationship is sometimes harmful, often incomprehensible, ...
  • Matt
    Oliver Sacks has been one of my favorite authors ever since I first read The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat. I still completely amazed, and a little bit disturbed, when I think back to his account of the woman who lost her sense of proprioception - the internal body sense that lets you know your body is there, even when you have your eyes closed. No other author (since Proust) has explored the nuances of consciousness so carefully, nor pointe...
  • Kelly
    This was unexpectedly touching. I'm glad I finally read it. Review to come.
  • Lynne King
    I was flying forwards. Bewildered. I looked around. I saw my own body on the ground. I said to myself, ‘Oh shit, I’m dead.’ I saw people converging on the body. I saw a woman – she had been standing waiting to use the phone right behind me - position herself over my body, give it CPR … I floated up the stairs – my consciousness came with me. I saw my kids, had the realization that they would be okay. Then I was surrounded by a bluish-...
  • Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
    The neurologist Oliver Sacks has a great book called Musicophilia (and a series of talks available on YouTube) which goes into some really interesting descriptions of the brain's relationship to music. One story involves a man getting hit by lightning and afterward having a newly acquired and deeply profound love of music (almost any music, too), profound to the point that he would feel a euphoria akin to religio-mystical rapture or an extremely ...
  • Gada
    !....وحدها الموسيقى تبقىفي الكتاب حالات لبشر ما يقدروش يفتكروا أساميهم ما يقدروش يفتكروا إزاي يمسكوا المعلقه (بسبب زهايمر, سكته , ورم, مشكله اتولدوا بيها, حتى مع إستئصال أجزاء من الدماغ...إلخ) الإنسان ينسى كل حاجه و الموسيقى وحدها موجوده و هي الشيء الو...
  • Keith Putnam
    I am a huge sucker for pop science about human consciousness. Sacks, unfortunately, has the habit of boring me with far too many anecdotes which he fails to link in any progression of Greater Understanding.
  • A.G. Stranger
    " All arts aspire to the condition of Music". Now, it's scientifically proven.( Not that it needed to.)
  • Bobby
    I really tried to perservere with this book, but after 100 pages I had to put it down. First, although marketed to a popular audience (even making it to the best sellers list), there are massive amounts of musical jargon and a background of musical knowledge would be extrememly helpful. Second, the books seemed to lack cohesive threads or narritive. I found it extremely disjointed with every few paragraphs changing to a different patient with ver...
  • Pierre Menard
    Leggendo questo bellissimo saggio di Sacks, rimango ancora una volta stupito dalla complessità del cervello umano, che si rende palpabile in questo lungo e dettagliato esame delle patologie neurologiche legate all'ampia sfera musicale. Proprio il fatto che esistano così tanti e così vari disturbi associati alla percezione e alla produzione musicale testimonia quanto profondo e articolato sia il rapporto tra la mente umana e la musica, che come...
  • brian tanabe
    This is my first oliver sacks -- I always meant to read the Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat but alas never got around to it.I love mr. sacks' delightful anecdotal storytelling and his intellect that makes fresh and accessible the study of the brain. It *almost* makes the issues dealt with in the book pleasant.In a nutshell, this book is about the power of music, backed by many accounts from the medical perspective of the interaction between mu...
  • liz
    I wasn't hugely impressed with this. Sacks's writing sometimes gets extremely dry as he goes into the technicalities of how the brain functions. I found his other books, with chapters each covering a variety of conditions ("Anthropologist on Mars," "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat"), to be much stronger, even though they were less consistent thematically. It seemed that at times Sacks had to stretch to find patients with some of the musica...
  • Nawar
    استحوذ هذا الكتاب على كل تفكيري لمدة 4 أيام على التوالي :)على الرغم من كونه كتاباً موجهاً للأطباء إلا أن الأفكار و الحوادث التي عرضها بطريقة سهلة و مبسطة تجعلها مفهومة و محببة لكل من يقرؤها يتحدث عن حالات خاصة و غريبة متعلقة بالموسيقا عند كل من المرض...
  • Malbadeen
    Woooooooa!!! Heeeeeeey!!!! Look at me I'm Oliver Sacks and I'm tellin you some more wacky stuff about brains.oh-la-la. I'm so fancy.(interesting topic but I prefer the podcast interview to the book - which I was able to stick with through apx. chapter 6 before throwing in the towell.
  • Faye
    2.5 starsI am a music geek. I play piano and I'm also taking a Music Theory Class right now. So I was really pumped to read a book about how music affects you.But the thing is, all these concept aren't explored. I feel like too many topics were squeezed into one book. Even more, some of them are very repetitive. In this book, I've read in so many chapters about how people with certain disorders and illnesses have a special reaction to music. Yes,...
  • Aaron
    Starts off with a fairly unsatisfying collection of anecdotes around loss or gain of musical ability. The real heft arrives halfway as Sacks starts pulling together the real research and making implications.The message here is that music is not some frivolous side effect of our neurology. Rather, music is processed by dedicated machinery in our brains and can affect us in profound and surprising ways.There are tantalising implications that humans...
  • رغد قاسم
    كتاب مرهق للغاية :( أعشق الكتب العلمية جداً و خصوصاً تلك الكتب لإخصائي علم الاعصاب و اوليفر ساكس يتميز باسلوبه الادبي الرفيع و معلوماته الواسعة بعيداً عن عالم الطب و دخوله إلى أجواء المرضى الداخلية و الاهتمام النادر بهم على عكس ما اعتدناه من جفاء ا...
  • Benjamin
    I get the feeling Oliver Sacks likes to reuse material. He retells the stories of his clients throughout his books, always with references to his other work. This isn't entirely bad, but I had to speed through some parts that were a tad bit repetitive. The subject matter is fascinating, and perfectly delivered for the layman(Which I happen to be). I have a newfound respect for the power of music therapy and music itself.
  • Arsnoctis
    Non ho potuto dedicargli il tempo che avrei voluto, quindi il primo consiglio che mi sento di dare su questo libro è: leggetelo con calma. Ciò scritto, si tratta di un libro ricco di contenuti e naturalmente interessante per chiunque sia interessato alla musica, alle dinamiche del cervello umano o a entrambe le cose. Un testo ricco di curiosità e aneddoti che ha la caratteristica di rifiutare la forma del romanzo o della storia unica per framm...
  • Syed Ashrafulla
    I know this book is cute to its readers because it makes them feel intelligent. "Hey look at me now I understand music from a brain perspective." This book is far far too narrow to pull that off. It's actually a terrible message to send to readers that music is inherently related to brain damage. The obvious question to ask is whether every good musician is mentally damaged, a question to which Sacks would answer yes apparently. He continually in...
  • Alex
    Musicophelia is an enchanting read, though one is struck more by the phenomena depicted—amusias, musical hallucinations, comatose patients suddenly "awakened" by nothing more than a familiar melody—than the manner of their depiction. Sacks has always been lauded for his fluid, personable style, and for good reason, but in the wake of classics such as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Uncle Tungsten, his writing seems excessively flor...
  • Aya Abo3ghreb
    قد يكون هذا الكتاب من أمتع ما كتب عن علاقة الدماغ والإنسان عموما بالموسيقى غصت فيه لأكثر من 4 أشهر أتلذذ به على مهل كأنه فطيرة زبدية بالفراولة!فلأوليفر ساكس طريقة ساحرة في الكلام عن تجاربة وأراءه العلمية وكل تلك النظريات والحالات التي ذكرها في كتاب...
  • Virginia Pavone
    Musicofilia è un saggio da leggere sicuramente in pillole, cosa che non ho fatto io. Ciò nonostante, questo bel tomo di 400 pagine, rimane un interessantissimo saggio sul rapporto cervello/musica. Quanta rilevanza ha la musica nelle nostre vite? Perché in alcuni pazienti post traumatici o post coma insorge tutto a un tratto uno spirito musicale? Perché i tormentoni ci rimangono in testa? la muiscoterapia è davvero efficace? Tutte queste doma...