Brain On Fire by Susannah Cahalan


On first hearing of this book, I had thought it was going to be more Girl, Interrupted than it actually was. Instead it was an account of Susannah Cahalan’s (reporter for the New York Post) experience after contracting a germ that infected her brain and, in effect, made her not only go crazy but also become physically disabled (if that sounds like a Stephen King novel, just wait until you read the details in the book). Through the help of the best neurologists to be found in the United States, she was able to recover, but it was not an easy road after an even more difficult time finding out what was causing the breakdown of her brain in the first place (family, friends, and colleagues were initially scared that she was actually going crazy, as was Ms. Cahalan herself).

This non-fiction book is for those of you who are interested in the medical world and the complexities of our bodies that make medicine seem almost magical. It’s an interesting (and sometimes sad) glimpse into a life that was brought to a screeching halt for no apparent reason. This isn’t a seamlessly written book; there are several ways that I would have edited it had I the chance (I was, however, reading an advanced reader’s copy, so the editing might have changed before going to final printing), but I read it easily and quickly. This would make a good gift for the medically minded friend or family member this holiday season!

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