The Must-Read Book Club


Cynthia Kling: I have always been a huge fan of the neurologist Oliver Sacks—the wonder of that mind (!) and how far it was willing to imagine, and yet he was such a shy soul. Several times I tried to meet him, to no avail. (I think others might have called it stalking.)

YCNYC: Favorite quote?

CK: Sacks never did anything in half measure, whether it was body building (becoming Mr. California), taking enormous amounts of speed followed by enormous amounts of sleep meds for several years, racing motorcycles, and, of course, following the trajectory of the brain far behind what any other doctor thought possible. And so it was prophetic that a school teacher wrote the following on his report card when he was 12: “Sacks will go far, if he doesn’t go too far.”

YCNYC: What one person would you recommend this book to?

CK: Anyone who doubts himself or herself. Or as Sacks said, “Len’s belief in me had been important since my earliest years...I had only a fragile belief in myself.”

YCNYC: What moment or part resonates with you the most?

CK: I was totally blown away by the fact that one of the greatest scientists of our time, a real humanist, was knocked down, again and again, trying and do what he wanted to do. Starting from the moment, as a teenager, when he told his mother he thought he was gay and she told him she wished he’d never been born, to the constant rejection regarding his work— because he wasn’t seeing things the way they were expected to be seen in the scientific community at that time. I understand rejection, as we all do, but also learning that hard lesson about staying with your own true north, even if you have to get up over and over to follow it.

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