“My predominant feeling is one of gratitude”

Dear friends,

Any time we ask you all about your favorite Oliver Sacks quotes, there’s one excerpt that comes up again and again, a section of one of the essays included in Gratitude:

“I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”

As we near the end of a turbulent and challenging year, we’re using the holidays as an excuse to remember what we’re thankful for, and Dr. Sacks’s essays on what it means to live a good and worthwhile life are always helpful for putting things into perspective. We’ve put together a small gift guide, below, for Oliver Sacks books that might make sense for the people on your list this year. And don’t forget to shop early and shop indie! Local bookstores need our support this year more than ever.

Musicophilia – For The Music Lover

“Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation.” Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language does–humans are a musical species. In Musicophilia, Sacks describes how music can animate people with Parkinson’s disease who cannot otherwise move, give words to stroke patients who cannot otherwise speak, and calm and organize people whose memories are ravaged by Alzheimer’s or amnesia.

An Anthropologist on Mars – For The Curious Empath

In the seven stories of this collection, Dr. Sacks focuses less on clinical diagnosis and more on painting a picture of how various neurological diseases impact the complicated wholeness of a human life. Anyone with an avid curiosity and an interest in shared human experience will be gripped by the exploration of these individual lives, from an artist who loses all sense of color in a car accident to a surgeon consumed by the compulsive tics of Tourette’s Syndrome.

On the Move – For The Armchair Traveller

If you know someone who’s feeling cooped up in quarantine, help them explore the world and get a taste of adventure with Oliver Sacks’s memoir, as he recounts his obsession with motorcycles; his love affairs, both romantic and intellectual; his experiences as a young neurologist in the early 1960s, first in California and then in New York; and his struggles with his own sexuality and drug addiction.

Gratitude – For The Person Who Needs Encouragement

No writer has succeeded in capturing the medical and human drama of illness as honestly and eloquently as Oliver Sacks. During the last few months of his life, he wrote a set of essays exploring his feelings about completing a life and coming to terms with his own death. This is the perfect gift for anyone who could use a reminder of how much joy and wonder the world contains, even now.

We’re also excited to share that Oliver Sacks: His Own Life is now available nationwide on Kino Now – buy or rent it and watch it from home tonight! It’s the perfect uplifting documentary for the whole family to watch together over the holidays, whether you’re watching it in the same living room or across the country from each other.

We’re grateful for the work of Oliver Sacks, we’re grateful for healthcare workers, and we’re grateful for all of you. We hope you’re finding ways to stay safe and happy this holiday season.


Kate, Greg, and Abi