Books about losing any of the 5 senses?
April 17, 2016 9:41 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for nonfiction books that deal with stories of people who have lost (or gained) their sight/hearing/sense of smell, etc. Also books about people who have dealt with memory loss or other neurological problems.

Along the lines of some of Oliver Sacks' books.
posted by cherrybounce to Science & Nature (26 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
My Stroke of Insight.
posted by BoscosMom at 10:02 PM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Mike May lost his sight at the age of 3 and went on to do some really super amazing things, such as winning a medal in Paralympic Skiing. He wrote a book called "Crashing Through," which details his experience also with partially regaining his sight by surgery in his 40's. Awesome guy, very interesting book, gave me a lot to think about re sight and seeing.
posted by little_dog_laughing at 10:15 PM on April 17, 2016

Would _Tuesdays with Morrie_ work?
posted by RaRa-SpaceRobot at 10:24 PM on April 17, 2016

Cockeyed is the memoir of a man who slowly loses his sight, and it's very engaging and well-done.
posted by The otter lady at 10:25 PM on April 17, 2016

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susan Cahalan

My memoir Brain on Fire chronicles the swift path of my illness and the lucky, last-minute intervention led by one of the few doctors capable of saving my life. As weeks ticked by and I moved inexplicably from violence to catatonia, $1 million worth of blood tests and brain scans revealed nothing. The exhausted doctors were ready to commit me to the psychiatric ward, in effect condemning me to a lifetime of institutions, or death, until Dr. Souhel Najjar—nicknamed Dr. House—joined my team. He asked me to draw one simple sketch, which became key to diagnosing me with a newly discovered autoimmune disease in which my body was attacking my brain, an illness now thought to be the cause of “demonic possessions” throughout history.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:48 PM on April 17, 2016

Deaf Sentence is a novel about an English professor who is going deaf - written by an English professor who is going deaf, so although the story is fiction, it is full of insight
posted by Heloise9 at 11:07 PM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

A couple of comedians with MS

Fall Down Laughing by David Lander

Carry A Big Stick by Tim Ferguson
posted by goshling at 1:26 AM on April 18, 2016

I haven't written a book about it but I have lost my sense of smell. Set me up with a contract and heck, I'll write the book! Seriously though, if you wanna talk, you wanna hear my story, shoot me a me-mail.
posted by dancestoblue at 4:20 AM on April 18, 2016

Still Alice (a woman with Alzheimers setting in) and Left Neglected (a woman whose stroke leaves her with no awareness of her left side) by Lisa Genova are both very good. She has two other books (one about Huntingtons and one about some other brain trauma) which I haven't read. She has a PhD in neuroscience and is a great storyteller as well.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 5:08 AM on April 18, 2016

Nicole C. Kear's memoir, Now I See You.
posted by BibiRose at 6:26 AM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Here's a NYT Modern Love column from Kear.
posted by BibiRose at 6:35 AM on April 18, 2016

Grant Achatz's Life, on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat details this world renowned chef losing his sense of taste due to cancer and slowly regaining his senses.
posted by mmascolino at 6:49 AM on April 18, 2016

I read Rebuilt: My Journey Back to the Hearing World by Michael Chorost a while back. Michael was born in the 60s and wore hearing aids, until the early 2000s when he completely deaf. He had a cochlear implant surgery, and slowly regained his hearing.

There are interesting anecdotes about all aspects of his life and how they were different with his new electronic sense of hearing.
posted by gregr at 8:20 AM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Borges essay "On Blindness" is terrific.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:39 AM on April 18, 2016

The Point of Vanishing

The guy only loses sight in one eye, but it's what causes him to go into the wilderness.
posted by serenity_now at 9:01 AM on April 18, 2016

It's just part of the book, but Taste discusses the stories of people who've lost their sense of smell/taste.
posted by wintersweet at 9:04 AM on April 18, 2016

Eclipse by Hughes de Montalembert is fantastic- a memoir written by a young NYC painter who was blinded in 1978 when muggers threw paint thinner in his eyes. It's richly detailed, thoughtful, sexy, and very readable. The cover image shows the author, who chooses to cover and protect his eyes not with sunglasses, but rather with a strip of curved steel. Here's a little interview with him.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:18 AM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't know if spinal cord injury falls into the category you're seeking, but if so, Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot, by John Callahan is wonderful- a funny, thoughtful, optimistic, and very readable memoir.

John Callahan (1951-2010) was 21 when a car accident caused paralysis from the chest down, including his hands- and who then dealt with his alcoholism, his feelings about his adoption, and his assorted personal demons while becoming a hilariously irreverent professional cartoonist (he also later created the animated show "Quads"). Callahan's work poked at disability, discrimination and modern neuroses, often via delightful, absurdist one-panel gags (this one is my favourite).
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:30 AM on April 18, 2016

Many of Oliver Sack's books have case studies on these topics. Not every single one, but as he is a neurologist, all the stories deal with some kind of neurological condition. He writes in an engaging manner for the layperson, and is one of my favorite authors.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
and Anthropologist on Mars are two of my favorites of his.

[edit] Oops! I missed that you had already referenced him in your ask. Well, he's awesome anyway :)
posted by ananci at 11:11 AM on April 18, 2016

Take Five by D Keith Mano is about a character who loses each of his five senses, one by one.
posted by blue t-shirt at 12:25 PM on April 18, 2016

aaand it's a novel, and you wanted non-fiction. I'm sorry I didn't read your question fully - I got so excited thinking I had the perfect suggestion.
posted by blue t-shirt at 12:26 PM on April 18, 2016

'And then there was light' by Jacques Lusseyran
posted by KateViolet at 1:55 PM on April 18, 2016

Molly Birnbaum, a cook and baker, lost her sense of smell and chronicles her experiences in "Season to Taste."
posted by primate moon at 5:33 PM on April 18, 2016

Past the strictly nonfiction -

on living (and thus uncertainty), social relationships, love, the emotional truths* of a Chilean PhD student losing her sight, her body spilling blood into itself: Seeing Red

(originally titled Sangre en el ojo (Blood in the Eye), a fictiony memoir/autobiographic novel(la) by an established Chilean young writer, Lina Meruane, translated by Megan McDowell).

Super short and a masterful knockout.

* and clinical details and bureaucracy and legalities and health insurance etc... don't dismiss it as irrelevant/useless to the spirit of the question just yet; read it.
posted by pos at 11:01 PM on April 18, 2016

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