Balance by Carol Svec
Book Report:
A Dizzying Journey Through the Science of Our Most Delicate Sense

By: Carol Svek

Narrated by: Wendy Tremont King

Length: 8 hrs and 7 min

Release date: 9-1-2017

Publisher: Tantor Audio

"We don't have a sense of balance; we are balance."
-Carol Svek
"Until age two, children do not experience motion sickness. The common reasoning is that until they learn to be steady on their feet, they need to be able to tolerate unexpected motion as they are carried,rocked, flipped over for changings, or dangled in a swing."

In Your Ear

Vestibular System Vocabulary
semicircular canals
ampulla, cupula
vestibular nerve
Otolith organs: utricle & sacuule
"Simply standing in place requires contributions from our eyes, ears, brain, nerves, joints, ligaments, blood, and bones in a symphony of coordination."
- Carol Svek, Balance

I'd like to provide a gazillion quotes from Carol Svek's revelatory book, BALANCE because it addresses something we take for granted; our ability to remain vertical!  Ms. Svek embarks on a journey into the world of balance research that makes you wonder how in the world any of us are able to climb stairs, walk on ice, turn cartwheels and walk around the block without falling down.  She subjects herself to everything from the Vominator, (useful for the study of motion sickness), to The Chair (useful for the study of Vestibular function).  She's an absolute dynamo to subject herself to all these tests and I felt like I was right there with her.  But... I want to tell you how her book affected me.  


Ms. Svek was inspired to write BALANCE because of a fall her mother took.  I was reminded of the many falls my own mother took near the end of her life while she suffered from advanced Lymphoma and a resultant vascular dementia.   Nobody questioned why she was falling, just how to prevent her from falling again.  And then my father tumbled one evening on a slow walk around the block during which we took turns kicking a pine cone (he was shaken and scratched up a bit but ok) and then he fell again, twice, from missteps that haunt me to this day but resulted in miraculously trivial injury.  The haunting of those missteps made me a nervous wreck.  Was something wrong with him?  Was he also in decline?


When Tantor Audio hired me to narrate BALANCE, I devoured it and proceeded to dish out information about how the Vestibular System (inner ear), vision and Proprioception work together to create balance.  It became clear that my Dad wasn't falling because of a failing system, just a lack of focus.  He allowed me to pester him to pay attention and I began to worry less.  I've taken it upon myself to practice balancing with my eyes closed, use at least light touch on the bannister and strengthen my core because I'm not sure exoskeletons will be on the market in my lifetime!  And I'd like to remain upright!

-Wendy Tremont King, narrator