T.H.E. Book Report vol 1 – Brain On Fire


Brain On Fire by Susannah Cahalan

Brain On Fire by Susannah Cahalan

As those of you that actually read my humble blog (I thank all 6 of you) should know, I decreed to no longer review books in the standard way. I was prompted to this line of thinking by a horrendous post / article about bloggers who call themselves ‘Book Reviewers’ and then charge people for the privilege of receiving one of their ‘coveted’ reviews. If you missed it or need reminding, I direct you to a great fellow writer and blogger Jo Eberhart, and her article about it from The Happy Logophile. I was so moved and, well, incensed, about what was going on, that I left a lengthy comment about it on the post. You’ll have to scroll down quite a way to find it if you’re interested, as Jo received over 350 comments on her post!! So there’s my background on why I’ve decided to stop ‘reviewing’ books per se, and to simply talk about the best ones that I’ve come across lately, and what I liked the most about them. I think it will turn The Hurley Edition into more of a conversational environment, rather than me just rambling on to myself, or so it would seem most of the time!! Today I’ve got a great book to talk about. It’s a non-fiction book that I came across while surfing the Kobo ebook site. Brain On Fire is the true story of Susannah Cahalan, a cub reporter for the New York Post who was just starting out on what was shaping up to be a great career in journalism. Then the story starts with her waking up one day in the hospital, strapped down to a hospital bed, with a FLIGHT RISK wrist band on her right wrist. She had been there for a month with absolutely no memory of how or why she ended up there. It’s not like she was in a coma…not exactly, although she did spend some time in a near comatose state, she was up to all kinds of ‘crazy’ behavior, and her family and closest friends had all been there, worried sick about her and whether or not she would ever be the same. Ms. Cahalan’s first hand account of this harrowing and until only very recently, unknown disease is absolutely riveting. The disease, now known as anti-NMDA – receptor encephalitis, is a disease where essentially the body’s antibodies attack the brain. That is as simple as I can put it, as it is quite involved when you read about it, however I  didn’t feel like it was over my head, as Ms. Cahalan makes sure to explain it in regular terms that you can understand. Do make sure that you read it from the beginning though to stay up with the explanation of the disease and as her team of doctors go through the process of first figuring out what it is that has ‘possessed’ her, and then how to go about getting her better, or at least saving what they can of her mind in hopes that she can fully recover as a functioning member of society.

The beauty and sensitivity with which Ms. Cahalan relays her story is truly exceptional. This is a highly recommended book that will have you thinking about what is real and what is merely perceived as reality by your brain. Can you honestly say that everything you experience on a daily basis, and everything you have ever experienced for that matter, has really happened in the way you thought it did, or that it happened at all?

This book will have you thinking about that…for many a long, sleepless night.

~ todd

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