Category Archives: Books

Total Recall

I’m interested in human memory. I’m interested in memory because while I sometimes have trouble with my own, I’ve been watching my mother lose hers completely. She was first diagnosed with MCI – mild cognitive impairment about three years ago. It manifest as short term memory loss, which came on quite suddenly after a nasty fall she took about two years previous to onset. At first she had trouble remembering sort of minor things – what she had for breakfast, hair appointments, and so forth. Over the past 18 months, her MCI has become much more severe. Much more.

At first, I read everything I could get my hands on about Alzheimer’s Disease. Not the most uplifting topic, but there you have it.  As mom’s situation has progressed and become part of our family’s daily lives, I’ve begun to think more about memory as the faculty that defines us as humans – that we are our memories.

Cover of Your Life, UploadedI’ve moved beyond reading about Alzheimer’s solely into more general topics having to do with memory – what it is, how it works, and most importantly how to preserve it. (Genetics, you know.)

I’m just finishing a book by Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell called Your Life, Uploaded. It originally came out in 2009 under the title Total Recall.  It’s one of the more interesting books I’ve read in a while. Bell set out to keep a complete electronic record of his life creating what he calls e-memory.He saves, scans, uploads, downloads every aspect of his life. He calls it lifelogging – not to be confused with lifeblogging. (Speaking of blogs, here’s how to get to theirs.) His intent is not to blast his life all over the Web – his intent is to create as complete a record of his life as possible for his private use as he sees fit.

His idea of e-memory has ramifications for education, health, work, and personal life. This is both a idea book and a book that make you want to start building your own e-memory. If I’m destined to lose my bio-memory, I better start creating my e-memory now.

Her Stroke of Insight

My Stroke of Insight Book CoverThe first time I watched Jill Bolte Taylor’s presentation at a TED conference, I was stunned. At the age of 37, this Harvard-trained neuroanatomist experienced a severe hemorrhage in the left hemisphere of her brain – she had a massive stroke – and remained conscious through the entire episode. When she realized what was going on, her reaction was: “Wow, I’m having a stroke. This is so cool!” Only a neuroanatomist could have a reaction like this. In her TED presentation, she tells an abbreviated version of the story and it is amazing. If you haven’t seen it, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Now I’ve just finished listening to her book, My Stroke of Insight. I’ve listened to it several times, in fact. If you are intrigued by her TED presentation and if you like audiobooks, get it. If you prefer to read, read the book. My Stroke of Insight contains a lot of good science and medical information about the brain and stroke, but in an entirely accessible way. Some critics of the book have complained that the ending is a little sappy. After reading it for yourself you may determine, like me, that this is very “left-brained” of them.

After listening to the book, I searched for more information about Bolte Taylor. I came across this interview she did with Oprah. While I’m not a huge Oprah fan, I did want to watch and listen further to Bolte Taylor talk about her experience. (Just an aside -I had better luck watching this in Internet Explorer than Firefox.)

Right now I’m right smack dab in the middle of part two of the interview. But I had to pause and take a little time to gush here hoping to encourage anyone with even the slight interest or curiosity about the enormous power of the brain to watch, listen, or read about this remarkable experience.

If you’re at all interested in brain stuff, another great book is The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge.

Now I’m headed back to the interview . . . .

Ignore Everybody and Other Good Advice

Credit: The Gaping Void

Credit: The Gaping Void

Hugh MacLeod has a new book that appears to be filled with good advice for just about everyone. The title: Ignore Everybody. MacLeod is famous for The Gaping Void. The ideas in the books aren’t exactly new, but they are great reminders about what it takes to go from dreams to reality.

I sure wish I had heeded these words of wisdom about four great ideas back…..especially those first two Ignore Everybody. I’m going to order his book right now. I might order it twice – one version for my Kindle and another in good old paper.

The Book