Cover Image: The Rag and Bone Shop

The Rag and Bone Shop

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Member Reviews

A book that is what it says on the jacket. A rag and bone shop full of items, all of which will be useful to someone, but the shelves are piled so high you may never discover what you’re looking for. More curation and presenting complementary items together might make a visit to the shop a far more engaging experience.
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“Come away, O human child!” Memory is a fascinating subject and ‘The Rag and Bone Shop: How We Make Memories and Memories Make Us’ by Prof. Veronica O’Keane tells us how she re-visited her learnings about memory after treating a patient with post-partum psychosis.

The only other books I had read written by a psychiatrist were by the great Oliver Sacks. There is definitely something fascinating about reading about cases of patients “at odds with the world as experienced by others around them.” 

O’Keane’s book opens with the heart-wrenching story of extreme post-partum psychosis in a newly delivered mother. We learn that this is the result of rapidly changing hormones affecting the brain, but O’Keane realises from this that memory is a powerful present lived experience that can hit us “with an emotional punch all over again.”

A link to fairy tales comes in O’Keane’s conclusion to this fascinating book and in particular Irish fairy stories and Yeats poem ‘The Stolen Child’ and the motif of the changeling child. It’s a really interesting book with a comfortable meld of science and literature making it a delight to read.
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This one took me a while to read, great to dip in and out of, and I found it extremely well written by a practising psychiatrist, Veronica O'Keane. What a fascinating subject the human brain is.
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I loved this book, though the topic of memory is something I find endlessly fascinating. I liked the writer's style and felt her references to literature gave the book a life, a poetry, that otherwise would have been missing. Throughout, she blends neuroscience and psychology to give a rich, wide-ranging view of how our brains function and how this effects are whole experience of the world. An excellent piece of writing, I hope I get to read more from the writer in the future.
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Very enlightening and enjoyable book by a psychiatrist.who deals with mental health and explains how something might trigger a patient. Fascinating insight into the brain
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clear and warms discussion of memory and things with questions she approaches which are burning eternal issues: like is the brain's physiological make up influential on how we think and feel? she covers the ground well - and with clarity - recommendable in extreme ... esp after all the covid information we've been fed and concerns about mental health ... top rate!
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Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this book.  

I was drawn to this book, but unfortunately struggled to get through it, and it did take me a while to finish.  Loved the patient stories, but found the medical information too detailed for my brain to retain.
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The book took me a while to read - I’d read a chapter and then read another book and then return to it.  As a layman, I struggled with the science but found the patient stories particularly interesting. 

I’m glad that I did persevere with the book because it’s a fascinating subject area.
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If you are looking for a book that explains the way the Brain and memory works in an interesting and informative way I would recommend David Eagleman’s ‘The Brain’ and Hannah Critchlows ‘The Science of Fate’. 
 Veronica O’Keene’s take on the subject seems unnecessarily complicated. It seems like a book written to show off to clever friends rather than one to make her knowledge of the subject accessible to all. She throws in numerous references to random works of literature, using the longest words possible and multiple double negatives to explain a concept and sometimes straying into using French. Reading it made me feel like the stupid person at a dinner party who doesn’t quite manage to follow the conversation…
 Though I did learn a few interesting facts along the way, it was far from an enjoyable read for me.
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DNF - 26% completed

Unfortunately I found this book very boring and therefore did not finish. There was the odd interesting point but overall I found that I was looking for more anecdotes and less science.
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I loved reading this book, it's such a fascinating topic. I'd love to read from this author. Her writing was engaging, without making the subject matter boring. 
Thanks a lot to NT and the publisher for this copy.
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O’Keane writes with clarity and compassion about mental illness. The book is full of lessons we can learn from those suffering from mental illness about how our minds work.

The open section of the book especially is full of insights about how many of us perceive there to be a separation from mind and body which O'Keane persuasively argues is unhelpful.

O'Keane punctuates her points using vivid examples from art and literature as well as case studies from her own practice. Memory is a strange often unreliable thing that we all depend upon. The Rag and Bone Shop does a wonderful job of exploring how memories are made, how they are stores and how change over time as we recall them. 

Reading this made me realise how memory is central to the human experience, to understanding the world and our place in it.

There were some concepts that I struggled to understand but this was more my fault than that of the author. However, given the subject matter, those looking for a light read need to go in understanding that while O’Keane has made most of the concepts accessible there are still many theories that are tough to grasp (or at least they were for me). 

It is one of those books that after you finish reading it you have a better understanding of not only yourself but of other people in the world around you. Astounding and illuminating in equal measure.
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I was really interested in reading this title as I am fascinated by memories and how each person has varying degrees of recall.

Sadly, this book was aimed at more of a medical audience and not as interesting as I had hoped.
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The workings of the brain have always fascinated me. Ms O'Keane's book combines some of the most recent findings on how this amazing organ and our memories work. 

The first half of the book looks at how the brain works and provides the ground work for the second half which focuses on different aspects of memory. Starting with self-recognition and how an increasing number of species are being found to share this ability, moving on to how brain growth and development and memory formation before tackling the arguably more psychological and contentious subject of false memory. 

There is a wealth of information here and I found myself dipping into the book and then taking time to absorb and think about what I'd learned before reading on. I finished the book with a renewed awe and respect for the brain and it's wonderful ability to make, store and recall the things that help make us human and become more important with time - our memories.
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I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. From its title I expected a factual examination of Memory and its affect oh human emotions that was accessible to the lay reader. I am a retired ICU nurse with 40 years of medical experience and more than a working knowledge of neurology and yet at times I felt that i was reading a densely packed text book aimed at those undertaking a PhD in how to use the longest and most convoluted sentences to explain a simple fact.

I enjoyed the vignettes of actual cases and I feel like the author would have been better to put her thesaurus aside and focus more on the people than the words. I worked for a consultant who use to write WTF (what the...) on charts and accounts of care when he felt that someone was over egging the pudding - my notes on this book would be littered with the same initials
Let me give you some examples

" even this word"position- like topic (from Latin for placetopos) counterplace, position, situation (latin for place situare) - the mind or at least my mind simply boggles
"child in a sibship" - what the hell is wrong with the word family?
"a sheltered microcosm of normalised human encounter" 
Frances is a patient of minewho was ensnared by an enmeshment of toxic xhildhood memories"

This book is a medical text, not a very enthralling one, and should perhaps be called notes for neuro psychologists. This is not a book that i would recommend to anyone for general reading.

In my mind it is probably only a one star book except for the patient vignettes I am giving it the benefit of the doubt and a 2 star rating. (less)
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Science and the human mind fascinates me and this book was so interesting and had me totally engrossed.  I just wanted to know more and more.
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The title of this book is what first drew me in; I'm interested and curious in memories and how the brain makes them so this book was a brilliant read. The author uses case studies from her time as a psychiatrist and educates us on numerous complex components involved in storing memories. I'm not a scientist, but I found all the information accessible and not too overwhelming. This is the kind of book I would dip back into again and I recommend it to others.
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Drawing on case studies, her own experience, literature and oral stories, Veronica O'Keane explains all you've ever wanted to know about the science of memories in this engrossing read (I never thought I could read a book on something as complex as neuroscience so fast!). The Rag and Bone Shop is a beautifully-written essay about the workings of our brain, which doubles up as a tribute to those people who suffer from its malfunctions. In a very humbling and humane manner, Veronica O'Keane recounts the stories of patients she's treated over the years for schizophrenia, postpartum psychosis and other bipolar disorders, underlining how much she has learnt from them and their recoveries. A highly-recommended read!
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This is a fascinating exploration of the human mind by a psychiatrist who has spent her life researching the mind and all its complexities. The book focuses on memory, drawing on advances in neuroscience, historical knowledge, personal experiences and case studies of .psychiatric evaluation. 

The process of memory-making is a human mystery which medics, philosophers and scientists have always been keen to solve. This book looks at the evidence from all of these with practical examples of how the mind works and what happens when it doesn't.. 

Its writing style draws the reader into the subject without a need for detailed medical or scientific knowledge with a balance of anecdote, case studies and more factual historical, medical and scientific references. 

It is an engaging read aimed at a wide inquiring but lay readership.

I received a copy of this book from Penguin Press UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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A truly insightful book about the meaning and power of memory in the spirit of 'Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole' and 'The Man Who Thought His Wife Was A Hat' that is at times tragic but always enthralling and engaging. Though at times she descends into the 'weeds' of psychiatry to explain some of the terms and ideas she's dealing with, Veronica O'Keane carefully retains an accessible tone that will ensure that this book will find a good home with layperson and with armchair psychiatrists alike.
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