Friday, May 6, 2011

You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know - by Heather Sellers

You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know

Heather Sellers has a rare neurological condition called prosopagnosia, or face blindness. She is unable to recognize people by their faces. Her memoir is the story of how she found about about the disorder when she was late in her thirties, and came to terms with it, as well as her roller coaster childhood with a schizophrenic mother and cross-dressing, alcoholic father. The book is fascinating, and as a college writing professor, Sellers clearly understands the importance of libraries - she invokes them on no fewer than 11 occasions. In some cases the library is simply a backdrop, a place she mentions in passing, but in other cases the library is an important turning point, an active character who helps Sellers in her self-discovery. The first instance of this is when "...the librarian at [her] university introduced [her] to PsycLIT" and she begins to search for conditions that describe her. I really enjoyed reading this part. Sellers made it clear that doing research is a sloppy business, and that finding the right search terms takes some trial and error, but once she hits on the right thing, a world of other information opens up to her. Libraries are used as part of her college life fantasy (indeed!); where she goes to learn about child care for her babysitting jobs; where she finds out how to get a do-it-yourself divorce; and finally where she goes when she wants to see what Da Vinci's drawings look like, and finds out he actually wrote about face recognition. I very much enjoyed reading this book, I learned a lot, and thrilled to see it was so pro-library.

To learn more about Heather Sellers, and read an excerpt of the book, see this NPR story. To find out more about face blindness see

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