Friday, February 24, 2012

My favorite brain tumor, cancer and traumatic brain injury memoirs

There is something about having a brain tumor that leads to interesting, provocative and brutally honest tales of brain tumors and injuries.

Here’s my top six. I’ve read every book on this list with the exception of Curveball, which I just got in the mail yesterday.  I like them all and, somewhat surprisingly, like them for different reasons.

Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto brings unexpected glam and style to the genre. I found the graphic novel format powerful and emotionally involving. After finishing this book I wanted to have a beer with her husband who, for all his restaurant fame and fortune, seems like a really likeable guy. All the same time, it’s a bit “New Yorky”.

Curveball: When Life Throws You a Brain Tumor, by Liz Holzemer, is something I’m looking forward to reading. Her blog - - is completely different from the usual brain tumor rant. I’m also a fan of her personal commitment to “give back” through her 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization, Meningioma Mommas -

Gabby’s book, Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope by Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly and Jeffrey Zaslow - is at one and the same time horrifying and inspiring. You just gotta love her and her husband.

I also loved Suzy Becker’s book - I Had Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse? - and her unrepentant honesty about her disease, her emotional roller coaster ride, her tenacity and her drawings. (I also have a soft spot in my heart for bikers and those who give back – and Suzy is both) She blends her writing and drawings into a complete story that words alone just couldn’t tell.

My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte-Taylor is, for me, the seminal work in the arena which combines personal journey with incredible scientific insights. I also want to start a fan club for her unbelievable mother.

Ms. Wisenberg’s blog and resulting book seems to have been on the vanguard of cancer blogs and, as you would expect given her literary background, creatively written. If you have a chance to listen to her speak in person, grab it. The time I saw her she brought the little statue/avatar her publisher made for her which, by itself, was worth the price of admission.

What have I missed?  What should I read next?  I’m interested in everybody’s comments, suggestions and recommendations.

1 comment:

Jay said...

John - Love your blogs and humor! Would be honored if you were to add my book, "Cancer on the Brain," to your "to read" list. I can certainly relate to your humor and outlook on life!