Musicophilia and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more

Buy New

Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
Buy Used
Used - Good See details
Price: 6.23

More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Start reading Musicophilia on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain [Paperback]

Oliver Sacks
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.99
Price: 7.69 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
You Save: 3.30 (30%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
In stock.
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Want it tomorrow, 2 Sept.? Choose Express delivery at checkout. Details


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition 4.49  
Hardcover 17.72  
Paperback 7.69  
Audio, CD, Abridged, Audiobook 20.98  

Book Description

2 Sep 2011

‘A humane discourse on the fragility of our minds, of the bodies that give rise to them, and of the world they create for us. This book is filled with wonders’ Daily Telegraph

Oliver Sacks’ compassionate tales of people struggling to adapt to different neurological conditions have fundamentally changed the way we think of our own minds. In Musicophilia, he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians and everyday people – those struck by affliction, unusual talent and even, in one case, by lightning – to show not only that music occupies more areas of our brain than language does, but also that it can torment, calm, organize and heal. Always wise and compellingly readable, these stories alter our conception of who we are and how we function, and show us an essential part of what it is to be human.

‘Fascinating. Music, as Sacks explains, “can pierce the heart directly”. And this is the truth that he so brilliantly focuses upon – that music saves, consoles and nourishes us’ Daily Mail

‘An elegantly outlined series of case studies . . . which reveal the depth to which music grips so many people’ Observer

Special Offers and Product Promotions

Frequently Bought Together

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain + Hallucinations + The Mind's Eye
Price For All Three: 21.67

Buy the selected items together
  • Hallucinations 6.99
  • The Mind's Eye 6.99

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (2 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330523597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330523592
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 34,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Oliver Sacks was born in London and educated in London, Oxford, California and New York. He now lives in America and practices neurology in New York, where he is also a professor of clinical neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is the author of ten books, including the bestselling The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings. His most recent book, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain was an international bestseller. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including the Hawthornden Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Product Description


"Oliver Sacks is that rare creature, a respected man of science who is also a mean storyteller." --"Toronto Star" "From the Hardcover edition."


'Through anecdote, argument and science, Musicophilia makes a passionate case for music as a way to discover ourselves' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse and search another edition of this book.
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
I think whether one enjoys this book or not probably depends on the things one is interested in - other reviewers have complained about everything from the book being too introspective to being too much a list of Sacks' patients.

In part, it is both these things - as a book of case studies it cannot help being the latter, as a book written by someone who is himself an amateur musician as well as being knowledgeable about and intrigued by the neuroscience behind our musical brain, it is necessarily the former. However, neither of these things, for me, detracts in any way from the book.

If you have an interest in both science and music and enjoy books that are absorbing, sometimes densely written, very informative, and written by someone with both a wide knowledge of the subject and a keen curiosity about the whys and wherefores then you will probably enjoy this book just as much as I have, which is a great deal.

Not all of the cases have explanations, which sometimes makes them more intriguing - other, apparently stranger, cases, turn out to have fairly logical reasons. Sacks explores everything from the healing power of music to its capability of irritating or even tormenting those whose brains cannot control it, and the whole thing is intensely interesting for a musician with any interest in the science behind music.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read 10 Nov 2008
This is a pretty good book, of interest to anyone who feels themselves somewhat musicophiliac and wants to know more about how music has the effect it does. Musicophilia isn't particularly focused and doesn't really go too deep into how music works on the brain, it's mostly just a string of case studies of people and conditions involving strange and intense relationships with music. It's well-written and accessible, and worth a read, though it doesn't attempt to give any major insights into why music is so important to people in general.

"Musicophilia" is preferable to "This is your Brain on Music" by Daniel Levitin, which was released around the same time and deals with somewhat similar themes, though Levitin's book includes much more technical info on music and neurology. This info is presented in a style that is dry, unengaging and lacking in clarity. Sacks on the other hand is an effortlessly good writer. For that reason, this book is worth reading, though it would have benefitted from greater cohesion, a more focused approach and some general theorizing along with the case studies.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little clunky 10 Feb 2008
By doublegone TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I got quite excited when I read articles about this book. It has not really lived up to my expectations.

It tells you about people who hear music in their heads, people with perfect pitch who lose it and vice versa, people with tinnitus and so on. The trouble for me was that in the end it becomes just a big long list of notes on the patients Sachs has treated. I could have used a bit more context, or even philosophical speculation and wonder. But the author is a medical man so he confines himself pretty much to the facts. And he reams them out - the patient experienced this, the patient reacted like that....

Its fascinating material but in all honesty the book is not well written. It is more academic than I had expected. Of course some people will prefer that. I didn't.

Some of the snippets I read in reviews and magazine articles were quite intriguing, but when I got to the full book I found that many of them remained snippets - a footnote about a piece of shrapnel in Shostakovich's head is a good example. Its just a couple of sentences and you want to know more about it but you are left unfulfilled.

Maybe I had too high expectations of this book. I don't want to be too negative as its a perfectly OK book. Its just not anything like as interesting as it appears.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
70 of 82 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing introspection 29 Jan 2008
While I have been a fan of Oliver Sacks, I am beginning to realise that a lot of his books seem to be constructed so that they can be easily divided into magazine articles (or they at least appear that way). I have read the first few chapters of Musicophilia only so far and to be totally honest, as a musician with training in the neurosciences, I found it interesting as a subject. However, the book is not well written. It has long segments of rather egocentric introspection and navel gazing. I wish it would focus more on the case studies and have a much more consistent approach to the subject. It is convoluted in parts and much of it seems to lose it's thread and drift into talking about other things, especially at the end of chapters. While Oliver Sacks is undoubtedly an intelligent man, I think that maybe he has neglected the advice of editors and been allowed to do so because he has sold so many books in the past. I bought the book in hardback and actually regret spending so much on it.
Was this review helpful to you?
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Minds making music 9 July 2008
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
By now, it's a given that an Oliver Sacks' book is worth your time and close attention. His particular talent lies in making the science interesting without becoming a "pop-science" writer. This is not an easy achievement, but Sacks manages it with facility. He can explain the science in terms of case studies - many of which have claimed his medical attention. He does this while mixing in experiences of his own and some personal reflections which are anything but intrusions. While some of his books are essays on selected individuals ["An Anthropologist on Mars" is an example], this one has a very special focus: the minds that make music unbidden.

Music arising in the mind without prompting may seem a common enough occurence. The advertising industry has demonstated fully music as an uncontrollable meme. The cases Sacks portrays here are of another sort. In some cases the music has taken over - sometimes supplanting other thinking processes and reducing the victim to near helplessness. The chief problem is often a lack of variety. More than the adverts' jingles, particular tunes may emerge from the distant past to occupy the sufferer's waking hours. A well-disciplined mind, such as Doctor P's, may be able to use the uncalled for music in ways that get them through daily tasks. Others don't have that ability and the music proves a terrible distraction. The music renders them "incapable of hearing themselves think".

Therapy for such conditions is in its infancy and may actually be subverted by the deluge of music impinging our ears daily. Sacks notes the proliferation of the iPod devices bringing music to listeners who seem to pass the day in another realm. This, however, is not relieving a condition, but may be generating a new one.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Musicophphilia
Interesting book
Published 1 month ago by Sue Challis
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, highly readable, fascinating and helpful
Oliver Sacks once again bridges the gap between neuroscience experts and unqualified interested readers. It is an easy informative read.
Published 2 months ago by Steve Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Music and the Brain
easy to read and absolutely fascinating. Very refreshing after having waded through some other books on the same subject. Highly recommended.
Published 4 months ago by Caro
5.0 out of 5 stars musicophilla
bought as gift for friend who enjoys oliver sacks books so far happy with all that i bought .so far.
Published 5 months ago by mamfa
5.0 out of 5 stars recommended
Since buying this book some time ago I feel as is if it forever comes up in conversation. Never have I experienced this with a book. It's a must-read. A textbook for living now!
Published 6 months ago by Jan
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and very moving
I have read most of Oliver Sacks' works and so this was a natural progression. But unlike the others, and possibly because of the underlying theme - the surprising power as well as... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting cases
I like reading patient cases. Here was a collection on people with brain damages. written in a thoughtful manner, presented interesting with a large collection on references to... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
There is much to admire here. The book is full of intriguing stories of individuals who have suffered some sort of brain damage or abnormality, and how this is manifested in... Read more
Published 13 months ago by M. D. Holley
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read
I've always been fascinated by the power of music and long to understand how that comes about. The truth is we still don't really know much about it but this book takes us a few... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
This book gives us an insight into how music is perceived by the brain. Essential reading for any musician.

Sacks engages the reader so that each case becomes a story.
Published 15 months ago by Strolls
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category