Friday, March 26, 2010

Still Alice

I've not posted about this, but even though this is PhD dissertation year for me, I'm again trying to do a bunch of for-fun reading.  In fact, since I'll turn 27 this year, my goal is 27 books... which considering that its already the end of March and I'm only finished 4 books, may not be very practical.

So far this year I've read Julie & Julia, The Lovely Bones, Any Known Blood and Still Alice.  I'm planning to write a post about each of these in the future, but today - I want to chat about "Still Alice" by neuroscientist, Lisa Genova.

If you've ever been to Chapters you probably know about Heather's picks.  Heather is the president or something of Chapters and periodically she picks a book and guarantees that everyone who buys it will love it or they get their money back!  Pretty gutsy eh?  Well a while back, "Still Alice" was introduced as one of her picks and once I read the back flap I knew I wanted to read it.  Now I did cheat a bit by buying the book at Costco for 1/2 the price of it at Chapters but anywhooo, that's not the point :)

"Still Alice" is about a 50 year old Harvard professor of cognitive psychology who has developed early onset Alzheimers disease.  The book isn't written in chapter format per se but instead recounts Alice's disease progression over something like 13 months.  Alice's story is heart-wrenching as she sees the career that she worked so hard for evaporate before her eyes.  While that is happening though she begins to see the value of her marriage and her children take precedence.  This resonated with me particularly as I work toward a lifetime of academia and begin the challenge of negotiating a 24 hour flexible schedule career with a marriage and hopefully family someday.

"Still Alice" is a brief read that has garnered loads of literary praise.  While it certainly does come across as more academic than the average fictional novel - it honestly may have changed my life and definitely gave me a lot to think about!  I would certainly recommend it.

PS - While writing this post I continually mis-typed "Still Alice" as "Still Alive" - strangely, this is exactly the theme of the book - even though Alice's memory neurons were self-destructing she was still alive and still deserved experiences, autonomy, affection and attention.


Meredith said...

Sounds like a great book! I will have to add it to mu list!

Littlec said...

It was a great read and I liked your review Amanda. Good luck with the book list!

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