Monday, January 17, 2011

Writing About Books

One of the pleasures of being a writer is getting to review a book. Elaine Soloway, the PR guru, treated me to a copy of The Twenty Four Hour Mind by Rosalind D. Cartwright. Here is my review.

Although this book is more scientific than those of Oliver Sacks, or the essays of Atul Gawande, Rosalind D. Cartwright is every bit as good a story teller. And, her humane perspective positions her with those literary stars.

Cartwright's subject is the brain during sleep. Her researcher's curiosity and determination has taken her into the study of dreams and ultimately the phenomenon of sleepwalking. It's the chapters about sleepwalking that read like mysteries. The subject is bizarre behavior -- even murder -- during sleep. Cartwright draws us into these shocking stories without ever backing away from scientific integrity. I was so impressed with her courage in agreeing to bring her sleepwalking expertise to two murder trials in which the accused men were, in her opinion, sleepwalking when they committed murder. Others in the field shied away from putting themselves in the line of fire.

As a lay reader, I naturally found the sleepwalking stories and other studies to be most compelling. However, I appreciated the research detail as necessary to convince us that Cartwright based her conclusions on solid science. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys exploring the "ivory tower" to learn how research has real life application and consequences.

Joan Chandler
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