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Extended Audio Sample The Minds Eye Audiobook, by Oliver Sacks Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (3,390 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Oliver Sacks Narrator: Richard Davidson, Oliver Sacks, Richard M. Davidson Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2010 ISBN: 9780739383926
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In The Mind’s Eye, Oliver Sacks tells the stories of people who are able to navigate the world and communicate with others despite losing what many of us consider indispensable senses and abilities: the power of speech, the capacity to recognize faces, the sense of three-dimensional space, the ability to read, the sense of sight. For all of these people, the challenge is to adapt to a radically new way of being in the world.

There is Lilian, a concert pianist who becomes unable to read music and is eventually unable even to recognize everyday objects, and Sue, a neurobiologist who has never seen in three dimensions, until she suddenly acquires stereoscopic vision in her fifties.

There is Pat, who reinvents herself as a loving grandmother and active member of her community, despite the fact that she has aphasia and cannot utter a sentence, and Howard, a prolific novelist who must find a way to continue his life as a writer even after a stroke destroys his ability to read.

And there is Dr. Sacks himself, who tells the story of his own eye cancer and the bizarre and disconcerting effects of losing vision to one side.

Sacks explores some very strange paradoxes—people who can see perfectly well but cannot recognize their own children, and blind people who become hyper-visual or who navigate by “tongue vision.” He also considers more fundamental questions: How do we see? How do we think? How important is internal imagery—or vision, for that matter? Why is it that, although writing is only five thousand years old, humans have a universal, seemingly innate, potential for reading?

The Mind’s Eye
is a testament to the complexity of vision and the brain and to the power of creativity and adaptation. And it provides a whole new perspective on the power of language and communication, as we try to imagine what it is to see with another person’s eyes, or another person’s mind.


From the Hardcover edition. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • Compelling. . . . Uplifting. . . . One more chance to bask in an extraordinary man’s irrepressible belief in the human potential to do more than survive the travails of our fragility. Edmonton Journal
  • Awe-inspiring. . . . A deeply moving book. Norman Doidge, The Globe and Mail
  • Graceful. The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)
  • Sacks invites readers to imagine their way into minds unlike their own, encouraging a radical form of empathy. . . . The Mind’s Eye expresses a stubborn hope. Los Angeles Times
  • Frank and moving. . . . His books resonate because they reveal as much about the force of character as they do about neurology. Nature
  • It is a measure of his artistry that Sacks slots such funk and anxiety into a book that’s mostly about the plasticity and adaptability of the human brain; a book that busily celebrates the indomitability of people. The Telegraph
  • A Financial Times Best Book
    A Globe and Mail Best Book
    A New York Times Notable Book
  • One of the 2010 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maria | 2/11/2014

    " A compelling insight into Sacks's neurology caseload as it deals with the visual limitations or visual disassociatve disorders of several of his patients and his own eye cancer that eliminates his ability to see depth. Some of the essays have been published in the New Yorker, I think, for I have read them before. If you liked his The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat," you'll enjoy this one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Matt Scalici | 2/3/2014

    " Fascinating case studies, including one involving Sacks himself, regarding vision, perception and the brain. Sacks' own personal diary of the loss of one of his eyes is both fascinating and heartbreaking and clearly the most intense section of the book. My personal favorite section explores stereo vision and how an incredibly large percentage of the population probably doesn't have it and, even stranger, doesn't realize that they don't have it. Sacks can occasionally be a little dry and clinical but his subjects are so bizarre and fascinating that hyperbolic language would probably only get in the way. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christopher | 1/24/2014

    " I love this guy! Shows how a lot of what you think you see maybe just between your ears... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy | 1/23/2014

    " I love Oliver Sacks. This book is all about vision - not what happens in the eye, but rather in the brain. In one essay he talks about his own experience with prosopagnosia - inability to recognize faces. In another he writes about having a kind of cancer that destroyed his central vision and stereoscopic vision. My favorite chapter was the last, on blindness and some of the ways people have adapted to that condition by either intensifying their mental imagery or giving it up altogether. Fascinating read if you're interested in the brain. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Valarie | 1/22/2014

    " I usually love Oliver Sacks's work, but this book was lacking in interesting material. Like part 2 of "The Island of the Colorblind," - "Cycads" - much of this book's content focuses on things that Sacks finds interesting, but few of his readers are likely to agree. Two of the chapters were devoted to stereo vision (seeing in 3 dimensions, only possible with both eyes), which really isn't crucial enough to daily living to warrant biographies of those who have lost it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cassandra Silva | 1/21/2014

    " Oliver Sacks is a very enjoyable author. I love the case studies, he makes them just relatable enough while still focusing on the content/diagnosis to keep it intellectual. I had not given much thought to stereo blindness this was extremely interesting to me and the woman's account of what this was like for her seeing after forty some odd years of blindness of this type was simply fascinating. What I love about Sacks is that because many of these people were his personal patients or people that reached out to him directly, they are always stories that you have never heard before, and I think he has a gift for picking very unique and compelling cases and weaving them into the overall effect of the book in a way that you would not exactly call following a thesis per se but you would defer that it was definitely very digestible and enjoyable order, and always keeping on topic if that makes sense. I know that doesn't make this book sound very interesting but trust me it is. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Bean | 1/16/2014

    " I loved the last three books I read by Oliver Sacks but this one just didn't do it for me. There was way too much science and the human element was too small for me. I might read his next one and I might one - this one just felt lackluster. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kitty | 1/16/2014

    " The book consists of case studies of people with neurological conditions related to sight, including the author's own cancer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tjibbe Wubbels | 1/6/2014

    " By reading about people with imperfect sight you get more insight about the functioning of the brain. Olivier Sacks describes his patients in a detailed and gripping fashion. A good read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kazi | 8/27/2013

    " The case histories were not that interesting, the phenomena were not that exciting and the writing was pretty dry. I can't help but think his other book is probably better, though I have not read it. This seems like a sequel that just didn't have enough oomph. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Becky Crowe | 7/15/2013

    " Not as interesting as other works, lot of focus on visualization and compensation/neural adjustment when someone becomes blind due to Sacks' eyeball melanoma. Pass. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle | 10/22/2012

    " I thought this was actually kind of boring and i usually enjoy his books... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Randy | 10/8/2012

    " The latest from Oliver Sacks... Insights (pun intended) into the brain's vision functions. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Adalberto Solito | 5/9/2012

    " Oliver Sacks' prose helps making this book amenable, otherwise it would be a little tedious, focused as it is on a relatively narrow range of sight pathologies. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rebecca | 1/24/2012

    " Similar format as the man who mistook his wife. Great stories on cognition and perception and the personal triumphs of those who have had these drastically altered. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dawn Trlak-Donahue | 12/8/2011

    " A little less narrative and more science in this one relative to his other books-but very good as usual. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lukas Vermeer | 9/12/2011

    " Sacks possess the uncanny ability to present compelling case reports as enthralling human beings. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shiv | 9/4/2011

    " A bit hard to read at times and lacking a thread through the chapters, but a personal and touching book that explores the neurology of vision and the personal impact of disorders to vision. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Yasmin | 5/21/2011

    " Usually I enjoy reading about medical cases very much.
    However this book was a bit too slow and too technical for my taste.
    I am leaving the book half way through. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sam | 5/14/2011

    " It's a great book until you get to the second half. While Oliver Sacks' own personal deficits are very interesting, I think it'd be better suited for a separate book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christopher | 5/1/2011

    " First 80% is brilliant - last 20% is a bit lame. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marva | 4/25/2011

    " I thought the stories about people in this book very vividly illustrated Oliver Sacks conceptualizations about how the mind responds to what the eye sees. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 ilse | 4/10/2011

    " Lang geleden dat ik nog eens een Sacks las. Hersenen en hun kronkels interesseren mij enorm, dus zo'n portie populair wetenschappelijke non-fiction tussendoor mocht wel weer eens.
    Moeilijk sterren aan te geven, aan 'zoiets'. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christine | 4/7/2011

    " I thought Sacks's case studies were really interesting, and it was fascinating to learn about some of the nuances of the way brains function. But the book bogged down for me when it got to Sacks's personal experience. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathleen | 4/6/2011

    " Oliver Sack's patients have a variety of nerological issues that make their lives challenging. Each chapter depicts a case, including Sack's own problem of not being able to remember faces. (from the recent New Yorker article) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Caro | 4/3/2011

    " This felt just a little ordinary to me, despite the odd symptoms of the patients he profiles, except for his own experience with a melanoma on his retina. That was wrenching and astonishing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 paula | 4/2/2011

    " Oliver Sacks, a Neurologist, again introduces us to people with damage to their brains and how they compensated for the loss. Sacks himself suffered melanoma of the eye and lost vision in one eye and hence, stereoscopic vision. His descriptions are entertaining and detailed "

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About the Author
Author Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks (1933–2015) was the author of twelve previous books, including The Mind’s Eye, Musicophilia, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Awakenings (which inspired both the Oscar-nominated film and a play by Harold Pinter). The New York Times has referred to Dr. Sacks as “the poet laureate of medicine,” and he was a frequent contributor to the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. He lived in New York City, where he was professor of neurology at the NYU School of Medicine for many years.

About the Narrators

Richard Davidson has narrated over 200 books and recently received the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Audiobook Nonfiction.

Richard M. Davidson is an actor and Earphones Award–winning narrator. Trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, he is well versed in theater and has had a long-standing career in acting, including a lead role in the show Diamonds, which aired on the CBS network, and a part in ESPN’s The Hustle.