Saturday, February 5, 2011

Wesley, the Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl
I LOVED this story!  I couldn't put it down.  This woman takes an injured baby barn owl home, and when he is unable to be released into the wild, she keeps him--for 19 years!  This book is absolutely fascinating!

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Owls permeate literature and mythology, an ancient animal ("some 97 million years" old) that has fascinated for centuries; still, few people have had as intimate an encounter with the mysterious night birds as biologist O'Brien. As a student researcher at Caltech, she fell in love with an injured four-day-old barn owl and seized the opportunity to adopt him permanently. She named him Wesley, and for 19 years kept, cared for and studied him, forging a tremendous relationship with the still-wild animal, as well as a vast understanding of his abilities, instincts and habits: "He was my teacher, my companion, my child, my playmate, my reminder of God." Her heartwarming story is buttressed by lessons on owl folklore, temperament ("playful and inquisitive"), skills, and the brain structure that gives them some amazing abilities, like spotting a mouse "under three feet of snow by homing in on just the heartbeat." It also details her working life among fellow scientists, a serious personal health crisis, and the general ins and outs of working with animals. This memoir will captivate animal lovers and, though not necessarily for kids, should hold special appeal for Harry Potter fans who've always envied the boy wizard his Hedwig.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

The Brain that Changes itself, by Norman Doidge, M.D.

  This book was a fascinating look at the way the brain works.  It is full of stories of people whose brain was damaged in some way, and how they overcame and re-taught their brain to work again.  One of the best non-fiction books I've ever read!           

The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science (James H. Silberman Books)
Publishers Weekly:
For years the doctrine of neuroscientists has been that the brain is a machine: break a part and you lose that function permanently. But more and more evidence is turning up to show that the brain can rewire itself, even in the face of catastrophic trauma: essentially, the functions of the brain can be strengthened just like a weak muscle. Scientists have taught a woman with damaged inner ears, who for five years had had "a sense of perpetual falling," to regain her sense of balance with a sensor on her tongue, and a stroke victim to recover the ability to walk although 97% of the nerves from the cerebral cortex to the spine were destroyed. With detailed case studies reminiscent of Oliver Sachs, combined with extensive interviews with lead researchers, Doidge, a research psychiatrist and psychoanalyst at Columbia and the University of Toronto, slowly turns everything we thought we knew about the brain upside down. He is, perhaps, overenthusiastic about the possibilities, believing that this new science can fix every neurological problem, from learning disabilities to blindness. But Doidge writes interestingly and engagingly about some of the least understood marvels of the brain. (Mar. 19)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.