Friday, December 30, 2011

Top Brain Books of 2011

As best I can tell, there’s a growing appetite for brain books. How can I tell?  Just amble down the aisle of a nearby book store (assuming that you can find one that’s solvent) and check out the titles.

If you like, well, brainy books about the brain, here’s my top two:
  • Incognito, David Eagleman, 2011
  • The Secret Life of the Middle-Aged Brain, Barbara Strauch, 2011
I really liked Barbara Strauch’s book about the middle-aged brain because it made me feel better about not being able to find my coffee cup (or cups depending upon the day).

And here’s two highly rated books that I haven’t read:
  • How the Brain Learns, David A. Sousa, 2011
  • Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain by Michael Gazzaninga
I think that one of the great attractions of “science of the brain” books is that it’s unknown territory. The brain is extraordinarily complex, and we understand so little about the organ we use the most, that all these insights are a little bit like reading about astronauts and their exploits.

Now if you can’t find you cup of coffee and you’re scared to death about sliding down that slippery slope to geezerdom…or worse, you might want to read some books on improving brain performance. I haven't read any of these given my addiction to Lumosity, but here’s several you might want to check out:
  • Power Up Your Brain, David Perlmutter and Alberto Villoldo, 2011
  • Mensa 365 Brain Puzzlers Calendar 2011 by Mark Danna and Fraser Simpson (while I haven’t looked, I assume they have a 2012 edition coming out too.)
  • Brain Fitness for Women, Sondra Kornblatt and Jean Millican MD, 2012 (Ok, this hasn’t come out yet, but I thought I’d mention it anyways.)
Why all this interest in brain improvement?  I’m not sure, but I think that boomers are scared of losing their wits, their reputations and their place in the world. In this economy boomers are getting down-sized, out-placed and replaced. And if you can improve your “braininess” maybe you can stave off all of that. And while there is a certain “gravitas” that comes with age, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of other benefits, at least not in the business world.

Of course, there are also memoirs on real-life crises stemming from brain trauma and tumors. The only new one that I’m familiar with is Gabby’s new book which I just got Gabby’s book from the library and plan to dive into it shortly.
  • Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope, Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly and Jeffrey Zaslow, 2011

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