52 Books a Year: #41 - Another Day in the Frontal Lobe

Posted by Brian Tue, 22 Dec 2009 17:44:51 GMT

Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on The Inside
By Katrina Firlik

3.5/5

My wife and I picked up a couple of dozen of books at the local libraries annual sale in June. This was part of that haul. A couple of months later my dad was having surgery to remove a cancerous brain tumor so I knew I would eventually make sure to read this one my wife picked up.

Another Day in the Frontal Lobe is pretty much what the title implies, walking the reader through the the development of a neurosurgeon and the day-to-day life that entails, focusing primarily on the author’s time in residency. Through case studies, anecdotes, and her own ruminations on why someone would want to get into a career that involves drilling into people’s skull, you get a good picture of the life a neurosurgeon, especially the pressure they operate under. I knew next to nothing about the process one goes through to become a surgeon (besides that it takes a long time) before opening this book and felt I came out with a pretty good high-level understanding of what it entails, at least for neurosurgery.

Firlik’s writing style is what one would expect in a mass-market science book. Lots of big words related to her field, but other than that very easy to read with lots of personal anecdotes. It is interesting to compare it Watson’s The Double Helix that I read earlier this year and compare the style of a mass market science book from 45 years ago with that of today. The biggest difference is simply the level of explanation of technical details. For several reasons I didn’t think The Double Helix would get through an editor today and one of those reasons was the lack of technical explanation on Watson’s part in a way the layperson could relate to. He just dove into chemical structures without laying any groundwork for the reader. That is not a problem in Firlik’s writing (her case is helped by the fact that we can all picture a skull and brain).

Another Day in the Frontal Lobe is nothing groundbreaking, but is a worthwhile read, especially if you know anyone who has undergone neurosurgery.

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