Have you ever felt a crushing wave of panic when you can't for the life of you remember the name of that actor in the movie you saw last week, or you walk into a room only to forget why you went there in the first place? If you're over forty, you're probably not laughing. You might even be worried that these lapses in memory could be an early sign of Alzheimer's or dementia. In reality, for the vast majority of us, these examples of forgetting are completely normal. Why? Because while memory is amazing, it is far from perfect. Our brains aren't designed to remember every name we hear, plan we make, or day we experience. Just because your memory sometimes fails doesn't mean it's broken or succumbing to disease. Forgetting is actually part of being human.
In Remember, neuroscientist and acclaimed novelist Lisa Genova delves into how memories are made and how we retrieve them. You'll learn whether forgotten memories are temporarily inaccessible or erased forever and why some memories are built to exist for only a few seconds (like a passcode) while others can last a lifetime (your wedding day). You'll come to appreciate the clear distinction between normal forgetting (where you parked your car) and forgetting due to Alzheimer's (that you own a car). And you'll see how memory is profoundly impacted by meaning, emotion, sleep, stress, and context. Once you understand the language of memory and how it functions, its incredible strengths and maddening weaknesses, its natural vulnerabilities and potential superpowers, you can both vastly improve your ability to remember and feel less rattled when you inevitably forget. You can set educated expectations for your memory, and in doing so, create a better relationship with it. You don’t have to fear it anymore. And that can be life changing.
EVERY NOTE PLAYED
An accomplished pianist, Richard received standing ovations from audiences all over the world in awe of his rare combination of emotional resonance and flawless technique. Every finger of his hands was a finely calibrated instrument, dancing across the keys and sticking each note with exacting precision. That was eight months ago.
Richard now has ALS, and his entire right arm is paralyzed. His fingers are impotent, still, devoid of possibility. The loss of his hand feels like a death, a loss of true love, a divorce - his divorce.
He knows his left arm will go next.
Three years ago, Karina removed their framed wedding picture from the living room wall and hung a mirror there instead.But she still hasn't moved on. Karina is paralyzed by excuses and fear, stuck in an unfulfilling life as a piano teacher, afraid to pursue the path she abandoned as a young woman, blaming Richard and their failed marriage for all of it.
When Richard becomes increasingly paralyzed and is no longer able to live on his own, Karina becomes his reluctant caretaker. As Richard's muscles, voice, and breath fade, both he and Karina try to reconcile their pasts before it's too late.
Read along with this Playlist to listen to the
classical pieces described in Every Note Played:
"Only Lisa Genova could bring such honesty and grace to the war against ALS. Searing writing and a must-read."
–Helen Simonson, New York Times bestselling author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
"Lisa Genova writes with humor and humanity but also with a scientist’s eye about the daily depredations of disease, the incremental losses, the slower acceptances, the rage, the love, the courage, and strangely enough, the joy. Read this book, read it all night, and wake up glad to be alive.”
–Bill Roorbach, author of Life Among Giants
"Every Note Played stapled me to the couch. Written with vivid honesty about the realities of ALS, for both patient and family, this novel goes far beyond drama and education. The powerful compassion in this book placed it on that rare list: one of the books I'll remember forever." -Randy Susan Meyers, author of The Widow of Wall Street
She didn’t want to become someone people avoided and feared. She wanted to live to hold Anna’s baby and know it was her grandchild. She wanted to see Lydia act in something she was proud of. She wanted to see Tom fall in love. She wanted to read every book she could before she could no longer read.
Alice Howland is proud of the life she has worked so hard to build. A Harvard professor, she has a successful husband and three grown children. When Alice begins to grow forgetful at first she just dismisses it, but when she gets lost in her own neighborhood she realizes that something is terribly wrong. Alice finds herself in the rapid downward spiral of Alzheimer’s disease. She is only 50 years old.
While Alice once placed her worth and identity in her celebrated and respected academic life, now she must re-evaluate her relationship with her husband, her expectations of her children and her ideas about herself and her place in the world.
Losing her yesterdays, her short-term memory hanging on by a couple of frayed threads, she is living in the moment, living for each day. But she is still Alice.
Still Alice is as compelling as A Beautiful Mind and as powerful as Ordinary People. You will gain an understanding of those affected by early-onset Alzheimer’s and remain moved and inspired long after you have put it down.
Heartbreakingly real…. So real, in fact, that it kept me from sleeping for several nights. I couldn’t put it down…. Still Alice is a story that must be told.
— Brunonia Barry, New York Times bestselling author
After I read Still Alice, I wanted to stand up and tell a train full of strangers, ‘You have to get this book.’
— Beverly Beckham, The Boston Globe
Reads like a gripping memoir of a woman in her prime watching the life she once knew fade away….A poignant portrait of Alzheimer’s, Still Alice is not a book you will forget.
— Craig Wilson, USA Today
Sarah Nickerson is like any other career-driven supermom in Welmont, the affluent Boston suburb where she leads a hectic but charmed life with her husband Bob, faithful nanny, and three children—Lucy, Charlie, and nine-month-old Linus.
Between recruiting the best and brightest minds as the vice president of human resources at Berkley Consulting; shuttling the kids to soccer, day care, and piano lessons; convincing her son’s teacher that he may not, in fact, have ADD; and making it home in time for dinner, it’s a wonder this over-scheduled, over-achieving Harvard graduate has time to breathe.
A self-confessed balloon about to burst, Sarah miraculously manages every minute of her life like an air traffic controller. Until one fateful day, while driving to work and trying to make a phone call, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In the blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her jam-packed life come to a screeching halt.
A traumatic brain injury completely erases the left side of her world, and for once, Sarah relinquishes control to those around her, including her formerly absent mother. Without the ability to even floss her own teeth, she struggles to find answers about her past and her uncertain future.
Now, as she wills herself to regain her independence and heal, Sarah must learn that her real destiny—her new, true life—may in fact lie far from the world of conference calls and spreadsheets. And that a happiness and peace greater than all the success in the world is close within reach, if only she slows down long enough to notice.
Lisa Genova is the Michael Crichton of brain science. What she proved with Still Alice, she proves again with Left Neglected. This is huge, powerful human drama at its elegant best.
— Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean
Achingly real. Beautifully written. Lisa Genova takes us on a moving journey of loss, forgiveness, hope, love and the resilience of the human spirit.
— Julia Fox Garrison, author of Don’t Leave Me This Way
Genova is a master of getting into the heads of her characters, relating from the inside out what it’s like to suffer from a debilitating disease. How she does it we don’t know, but she does, and brilliantly.
— Craig Wilson, USA Today
"I’m always hearing about how my brain doesn’t work right…But it doesn’t feel broken to me."
Olivia Donatello's dream of a 'normal' life shattered when her son, Anthony, was diagnosed with autism at age three. Understanding the world from his perspective felt bewildering, nearly impossible. He didn't speak. He hated to be touched. He almost never made eye contact. And just as Olivia was starting to realize that happiness and autism could coexist, Anthony died.
Now she's alone in a cottage on Nantucket, separated from her husband, desperate to understand the meaning of her son's short life, when a chance encounter with another woman facing her own loss brings Anthony alive again for Olivia in a most unexpected way.
Beth Ellis's entire life changed with a simple note: "Im sleeping with Jimmy." Fourteen years of marriage. Three beautiful daughters. Yet even before her husband's affair, she had never felt so alone. Heartbroken, she finds the pieces of the vivacious, creative person she used to be packed away in a box in her attic. For the first time in years, she uncaps her pen, takes a deep breath, and begins to write. The young but exuberant voice that emerges onto the page is a balm to the turmoil within her, a new beginning, and an astonishing bridge back to herself.
Autism is like a Zen koan—a riddle without answers…The same could be said about love. This book upended my perceptions of both conditions, leaving me feeling with my mind and thinking with my heart.
— Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author
Love Anthony broke my heart in the best way! I read it spellbound and breathless.
— Heidi W. Durrow, author of The Girl Who Fell From The Sky
Lisa Genova has essentially created her own genre, the ‘Lisa Genova’ novel, in which complicated topics become accessible to readers through beautifully drawn characters and profound, human-scale stories.
— Laura Lippman, New York Times bestselling author
INSIDE THE O'BRIENS
Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.
Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?
As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.
Praised for writing that “explores the resilience of the human spirit” (The San Francisco Chronicle), Lisa Genova has once again delivered a novel as powerful and unforgettable as the human insights at its core.
A gut-wrenching and memorable read.”
— Library Journal. Starred review.
Promises to do for Huntington's disease, what Still Alice did for Alzheimer's.
— The Huffington Post
An unsparing, heart-piercing portrait…compelling…enlightening.
— Washington Post