I do sometimes read non-fiction…

I’ve done more non-fiction reading this year than I have in previous years. Partly stuff associated with uni, partly stuff about dementia (particularly relevant to my family at present), and of course I continue to be a sucker for a memoir.

I’ve jotted down a few thoughts on some of the books I’ve read recently – not reviews as such, just a record.

It’s Never Too Late to Change Your Mind by Michael J. Valenzuela

There’s some technical/medical stuff in this book as well as general advice. Like all books in this genre, I read wondering how much things have progressed since the book was published (in 2009). Regardless, the key message holds true – the best way to decrease your risk of dementia is to reduce your blood pressure (and as it happens, the things you do to reduce your blood pressure have broader health benefits) AND keep your mind active (so keep blogging) AND stay socially engaged. Basically, the trifecta is going to dance classes (active, learning, social)!

The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge

The pop-science bible on neuroplasticity, this book has lots of fascinating case studies as well as thorough explanations. It was a re-read for me and this time I found the sections on psychotherapy and ageing / dementia particularly interesting. I noted with some amusement that the part of this book that everyone was getting their knickers in a twist about when it was first published in 2007 (that pornography can be addictive, fuelled by its availability online) has proven to be correct.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks

Another re-read. Sacks writes so eloquently and the stories in this book are weird and fascinating and compelling. But to be honest, I didn’t love it as much as I did the first time I read it, finding the case studies far more drawn out than I remembered. I’m also left wondering whether anything will be better than Sacks’s essay for the New York Times, My Periodic Table – it’s a stunning piece of writing that makes me bawl every time I read it.

Join in Nonfiction November here.

14 responses

    • I’ve never been a big reader of biographies but I love memoirs… go figure!?! Although I usually have a non-fiction book on the go, I’ve found lately that prefer to listen to non-fiction rather than read.

  1. I’ll do the figures at the end of the year but I’m pretty sure I’ve read more non-fiction this year too – mostly memoir, hybrid memoir, and historical topics. I’m sorry you have a family dementia issue. Can’t be easy.

    Love Oliver Sacks.

    • Thank you. Although I watched my grandmother suffer from dementia, I’m now dealing with it one generation closer. It’s very difficult and confronting for some members of my extended family. I always like to understand the science of these kinds of things (makes me feel like I’m ‘doing’ something!) but in this case, I figure the knowledge is important for my own health in the future as well.

  2. The Brain That Changes Itself sounds so interesting! I’ve seen that on a few non-fiction lists lately and I think I’ll have to check it out. The Oliver Sacks sounds interesting too!

  3. If you have time (what with uni and life and all) can I recommend the MOOC ‘Understanding Dementia’ run by the University of Tasmania and the Wicking Centre. It’s self-paced and there are no assignments or anything, but it’s a proper course that is often completed by people working in aged care. It is excellent for understanding the disease, for learning to assess all those claims that are made about prevention and cure, and for learning really helpful ways of supporting your loved one as well as looking after yourself. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this course changed the way I looked at dementia and helped me in ways I could not have imagined.
    If you are in Melbourne, I can also recommend doing a one-day workshop in communication run by Alzheimer’s Australia. It’s not just that they teach you all kinds of simple things that make communication easier and more meaningful, it’s also affirming to be with other people who are living with someone who has dementia and it’s good to hear their stories, you feel less alone.

    • Thank you so much for this Lisa. I just put in an expression of interest for two MOOC courses for next year (Understanding dementia and Preventing Dementia). We have already accessed some of the AAus support and it has been really useful. My main problem at the moment is that not everyone in the family acknowledges how bad the situation is – I figure I can understand as much as I can now so that when they’re ready, it’s not all new. As you no doubt understand, it’s a highly sensitive time.

      • Yes, I think that’s one of the hardest things, denial (which usually comes from fear and from love) and lack of knowledge. I’ve done both of those courses, because of course one of the things we fear is that dementia might run in the family. (It mostly doesn’t) It’s been good to learn preventative strategies too. I wish you luck on your journey…

  4. Pingback: More non-fiction reading | booksaremyfavouriteandbest

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.