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On the Move: A Life Hardcover – Illustrated, April 28, 2015
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An Amazon Best Book of May 2015: Oliver Sacks’ On the Move is a disarming book. His honesty, energy, and clear restlessness illuminate each page, drawing the reader in to a life of great achievement in spite of some hurdles. The highest of those hurdles may have been his difficulty with romantic love. The origin of that difficulty can be traced to his mother’s severe reaction upon learning that he was gay: she called him “an abomination.” Sacks forgave his mother for that, even if he couldn’t shake her words. His solution appears to have been just to move on and keep moving—and the entire book is imbued with a sense of movement. This can be seen in his love of motorcycles and weight lifting, in his desire to travel, in his move from England to the United States, and even when he writes of his former addiction to amphetamines. Of course his mind was moving at all times as well, and in this book Sacks continues to write convincingly about the ways our minds make us human. Despite claiming shyness, Sacks amassed an impressive list of friends and acquaintances—from the poets Thom Gunn, Richard Selig, and W.H. Auden, to Francis Crick and Stephen Jay Gould, to Robert De Niro and Robin Williams. And there was always the writing. “I am a storyteller, for better and for worse,” he writes at the end of the book. When I read that line, I realized that I felt like he was sitting in the same room with me. -- Chris Schluep
Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Dr. Sacks writes not only with a doctor’s understanding of medicine and science but also with a Chekhovian sympathy for his patients and a metaphysical appreciation of their emotional quandaries....That writing, which Dr. Sacks says gives him a pleasure ‘unlike any other,’ has also been a gift to his readers—of erudition, sympathy and an abiding understanding of the joys, trials and consolations of the human condition.”
Lauren Slater, Los Angeles Review of Books
“The summation of a life lived with so much breadth and depth that it serves as a primer for how to navigate human existence with humor, humility, passion, speed, intelligence, and ongoing grace — the tale tying together all the stories Sacks has published in his lifetime…. In this book, Sacks reveals himself as a writer, laying bare the process, which was sometimes exquisitely painful and sometimes straightforward; it’s a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into how one of this country’s most beloved physicians and authors actually plies his craft....Sacks is so vulnerable, so naked, so exposed in the telling of his life that the reader wants to fall in love with him, because what else can you do when a person such as Sacks gives you the gift of such honesty?…. On the Move can be read in many different ways…. In the end, though, what the reader walks away with, or rather, what this reader walked away with, was a field guide on how to live an excellent life, moment by moment, mile by mile, making each droplet count.”
Colin McGinn, Wall Street Journal
“This is a very striking book by a very striking man. It is honest, lucid, passionate, humorous, humane and human (also slightly Martian). The Oliver Sacks you thought you knew may surprise you with his back story…”
Carmela Ciuraru, San Francisco Chronicle
“No matter what he writes about — whether struggling to understand what his patients are going through, or describing his love of swimming or photography — Sacks always seems open to learning more. He appears keenly interested in everything and everyone he encounters. He’s a wonderful storyteller, a gift he says he inherited from his parents, both of whom were doctors. But as he proves again in his latest…book, it’s his keen attentiveness as a listener and observer, and his insatiable curiosity, that makes his work so powerful.”
Heller McAlpin, LA Times
“On the Move is filled with both wonder and wonderments….Sacks’ discursive, revealing memoir chronicles his surprising route to becoming the bard of brain disorders. Pit stops along the way include his biker days (in which he went by his middle name, Wolf), avid weightlifting, experimentation with psychotropic drugs leading to amphetamine addiction, numerous brushes with death, lifelong passion for long-distance swims, and so many carelessly lost manuscripts you can’t help but wonder about Freudian slips. The vivid self-portrait that emerges is of an immoderate risk taker with a brilliant ‘wildly associative mind,’ an enthusiast who regards ‘all neurology, everything as a sort of adventure.’ A teacher’s astute assessment best sums up Sacks’ nature: ‘Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far.’ He has frequently pushed the limits.”
Suzanne Koven, Boston Globe
“Sacks’ empathy and intellectual curiosity, his delight in, as he calls it, ‘joining particulars with generalities’ and, especially, ‘narratives with neuroscience’ —have never been more evident than in his beautifully conceived new book, On The Move. This meta memoir, in which Sacks reconsiders aspects of his life and work that he’s written about in a dozen previous books, is remarkably candid and deeply affecting.”
Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times
“On the Move is entertaining and illuminating and sometimes shocking, and it’s given a deep tinge of poignancy by Sacks’ public announcement in February that he has terminal cancer. If On the Move is his effort, at age 81 and in the face of death, to record a life well lived, he has succeeded beautifully.”
Laura Miller, Salon
“On the Move is an enchanting window on just how much vitality you can pack into four-score years on this planet…"
Tyghe Trimble, Men’s Journal
“What you likely don’t know about Sacks is that he once held a weightlifting record in California, is a serious motorcycle enthusiast, and fell in love at 77. Such moments make On the Move a compelling read. The memoir offers a glimpse into one of the greatest minds of our time, made all the more special by the knowledge that it’s one of his last gifts to a devoted readership.”
Jennie Yabroff, Biographile
“You finish On the Move with a sense of wonder and admiration.”
Melissa Pierson, Daily Beast
“…an unforgettably passionate, joyous journey.”
Jeff Milo, Paste
“An ebullient telling of a remarkable life.”
Dan Cryer, Newsday
“Learning to come to terms with unique patients has given Oliver Sacks permission to come to terms with himself. And what a self this book reveals! A man animated by boundless curiosity, wide-ranging intelligence, gratitude for flawed humanity, perseverance despite setbacks…. Oliver Sacks can never be replaced. We’re lucky to have all the books, including On the Move. It’s intensely, beautifully, incandescently alive."
Alden Mudge, BookPage
“In these pages, Sacks is always on the move, leaping adroitly from one topic to the next. We are swept along by the velocity of his account of a long and eventful life.”
- Item Weight : 1.3 pounds
- Hardcover : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0385352549
- ISBN-13 : 978-0385352543
- Product Dimensions : 5.8 x 1.5 x 8.5 inches
- Publisher : Knopf; Illustrated Edition (April 28, 2015)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #233,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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To say that he has lived life to the fullest would be a severe understatement; he has filled his life with enough adventure and excitement to occupy four lifetimes, and he is still going (and may he continue to do so for many years, in spite of his cancer). His openness and honesty in "On the Move" is spectacular, moving, and one feels as though he is having a fireside conversation with Sacks himself. There is so much I never knew about him, so much that I almost found hard to believe! (You'll understand this as you read through the book). What a man, what a life!
As a student who will be starting his first year at medical school this August, I can say that I aspire to be half the man that Oliver Sacks has become. He is part of the reason that I have fallen even more in love with the medical field, particularly neurology and psychiatry. There is much to learn from this book, regardless of one's profession, interests, and background. There is so much more to say, but I'm no wordsmith as Sacks is, so I'll let you read it for yourself. It is my hope that you enjoy every page, sentence, and carefully crafted word that Oliver Sacks has used to print his life onto paper. As Albert Schweitzer said, "my life is my argument," and no doubt Sacks will embody this message until the end.
As a migraine sufferer, I too was both frightened and fascinated by my visual auras. I always felt a little crazy admitting or describing them, until I picked up Sacks' "Migraine" in high school and flipped through the pages upon pages of elegantly drawn visual auras and the accompanying descriptions. As a med student, I was impressed by Sacks' ability to write popular science books in the field of neurology, a skill which perhaps is only rivaled by those greats such as Steven Hawking, Isaac Asimov, and the like. To read Sacks' account of what motivated him to write the book and the challenges he faced in doing so only made me appreciate it more.
As a neurologist, I found a lot to relate to here: particular passages of interest were his approach to migraines, and his feeling as though he was "not like a super-specialist in migraine but like the general practitioner these patients should have seen to begin with. I felt it my business, my responsibility, to enquire about every aspect of their lives." Any neurologist who cares for migraine patients would relay the complex entanglement between sleep, stress, caffeine habits, and medical comorbidities to patients' migraine disorders. He also writes eloquently and relatably about the intersection between neurology and psychiatry and the importance of realizing a holistic, multifaceted approach.
But most of all, what I enjoyed about this book, was that it tears down the stereotypes of what a traditional 'neurologist' is. Many of us have the picture of the neurologist as the straitlaced, nerdy physician with the briefcase full of tools and a very bookish approach (and I am a neurologist). The image of the artistic, motorbike riding, poetry-appreciating young neurologist with a rebellious, inquisitive streak is satisfying because it shows who a neurologist can be -- an artist, a bodybuilder, a traveler, a writer. Sacks' memoir paints the picture of a life well-lived, well-enjoyed, and well-spent; he spent his life not dwelling on limitations of science but savoring scientific inquiry, by pursuing purpose and possibility. I hope his book inspires the artists to appreciate the beauty and subtlety of science, and the scientists to appreciate the emotion and abstraction of art. It certainly inspired me.
Paul Halpern, author of Einstein's Dice and Schrödinger's Cat: How Two Great Minds Battled Quantum Randomness to Create a Unified Theory of Physics
Top reviews from other countries
He writes in a way that's immediately engaging and the reader is drawn in to the excitement of his life. I had no idea that he'd done so many extraordinary things and I'm delighted that he lived life to the full ( and occasional excess) in every way. It's quite an emotional roller coaster at times, both professionally and personally. Here was a man prepared to take risks and by and large they paid off. The world is a poorer place without him.
Oliver Sacks never seems to have taken life lying down. Despite his dedication to his distinguished medical career, he has managed to embrace himself as a self-confessed 'field-worker', a man who is constantly striving to fit his and other human behaviour within his professional knowledge and experiences as a 'brain doctor'. This is a forthright and honest autobiography written by a man who has an audience and who has lived life to the full. His terminal disease makes this even more compelling. A book that is as pleasurable and interesting to read as its author intended. Full of revelations and humanity, it is highly recommended.