Dr. Oliver Sacks is at least partly to blame for the fact that I am in medical school. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat was the first book of clinical neurological tales that I had ever read, and I found myself unable to put it down. All of Dr. Sacks' books are worth reading, but this is a good place to start, as it is his most famous collection of true clinical tales. For medically savvy readers, Dr. Sacks' clinical short stories provide a compelling reminder of the utility of our medical education. For the layperson, his tales are a fascinating introduction into the world of neurology and the bizarre and frightening manifestations of neurological disease. Included in this book is the story on which the Robin Williams movie Awakenings was based.
Phantoms in the Brain is quite possibly one of the most enjoyable and fascinating books I've read in years. While still comprehensible for the layperson, Phantoms will probably be difficult to truly appreciate for those wthout at least a basic understanding of neuroanatomy. Dr. Vilaynur S. Ramachandran does a fairly good job of explaining complex neurological disease in reasonably simple terms, but the complexity of the disorders which he discusses makes me think that the neurologically uninitiated would find this book overwhelming. Some of Dr. Ramachandran's theory are little more than wild speculation, but he is reasonably good about clarifying when he does or does not have substantial evidence to support his theories. Even his speculative ideas are fascinating, and the inquisitive and open-minded reader will recognize the genius in some of Dr. Ramachandran's yet-unproven theories. If this book doesn't make you want to zap random bits of your brain with a transcranial magnetic stimulator, then nothing will.
It's hard to understand anything in neurology or neurosurgery without understanding basic neuroanatomy, and Neuroanatomy through Clinical Cases is the best book I've found for learning that anatomy. This was not my med school's recommended text for our neuroscience course, but I used it as a supplemental text and ended up getting more out of this book than I did from any other text that we used. The associated website,, is also very useful.


When I read this book, I was working in the ER of a Level 1 trauma center, and most of the surgery that I saw on a day-to-day basis was orthopedics. I'd been interested in neurosurgery for years, but all that time around orthopods was affecting my brain, making me consider orthopedics as a career path. After reading When the Air Hits Your Brain, the error of my ways was clear, and neurosurgery resurfaced as the One True Path.
If you find it motivating to have heroes in your life, then read The Healing Blade. Dr. Robert Spetzler is well known as one of the world's great neurosurgeons, but this book elevates him to truly superhuman status. Though great skill and great dedication are worthy of praise, this book went a little over the top for me. Nevertheless, it's a fascinating and exciting read, and if you have an interest in neurosurgery, you'll find it motivating.
If you've got $800+ burning a hole in your pocket and you just have to have the definitive text on neurosurgery, this is it. Oh, yeah, and if you've got that much extra cash, please click on the "buy" link on this page, because I could use some of that extra cash.

If you have any particular recommendations for other neurology, neurosurgery or neuroscience-related books, please fill out the Feedback Form. Thanks!