Allegedly, summer reading is frothy.
But for some reason, this summer has brought more than its share of books on the brain and brain science — fascinating stuff but far from the breezy love on the beach stuff we’ve all come to expect when the weather heats up.
I like this change of direction, though. Maybe because I live in Houston where the heat is always up.
As soon as I had found a few brain books to blog about, I discovered NPR had beat me to it — BADLY, in fact — but that none of the books they listed in their June story were on my list. You know what that means. It MUST be a trend!
(Aside: Every time I try to type brain I type brian instead. If I ever write a novel about a really smart guy, I must remember to name him Brian… Another aside: If Tina Fey ever writes a brain book, she could call it Smartypants… Folks, I’m two days from a week-long vacation. Can you tell?!)
Anyway, here’s a lobeful of brain-y books. Happy reading!
1. INCOGNITO: The Secret Lives of the Brain, By David Eagleman.
In this book, Baylor neuroscientist David Eagleman mines the circuitry of inner space. His enthusiasm and gift for metaphor help cushion a hard-to-imagine truth: that consciousness is the smallest bit of what’s happening in our brains. That the me-ness of me and the you-ness of you is something beyond me and you. The books asks – and answers – questions including: “Why are we so tempted to tell a secret? Are some marriage partners more likely to cheat? Why do patients on Parkinson’s medications become compulsive gamblers?
2. DELUSIONS OF GENDER: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference, by Cordelia Fine.
An Australian senior research associate at the Centre for Agency, Value and Ethics, Cordelia Fine argues that men and women really aren’t hard-wired all that differently — that this whole men are from Mars and women are from Venus thing is just plain uninformed and dangerous. “We start to think of ourselves in terms of our gender, and stereotypes and social expectations become more prominent in the mind,” Fine writes.” This can change self-perception, alter interests, debilitate or enhance ability, and trigger unintentional discrimination.”
3. NOW YOU SEE IT: How the Brain Science of Attention will Transform the Way We Live, Work and Learn, by Cathy Davidson. (coming in August from Viking)
Cathy Davidson, former vice provost for interdisciplinary studies at Duke University, claims that technology has changed our private lives and work lives, but our institutions haven’t kept pace. Since old hierarchies have become less relevant, the new question is: How should we transform our universities and workplaces to adapt to these changing, uncertain times?