Books To Feed Your Brain
Books about the brain, how it functions and its ability to adapt have been making the bestseller charts for quite some time.
We have collected some of the most popular, most intriguing and most thought provoking books, from areas including science, philosophy, psychology and history. There are books about memory and how to improve it, about ideas that changed the past and will create the future.
FEED YOUR BRAIN
Is your ability to focus and pay attention in free fall?
You are not alone. The average office worker now focuses on any one task for just three minutes. But it’s not your fault. Your attention didn’t collapse. It has been stolen.
Internationally bestselling author Johann Hari shows twelve deep factors harming our focus. Once we understand them, together, we can take back our minds.
Over four decades of clinical experience, renowned physician and addiction expert Dr Gabor Maté has seen how health systems neglect the role that trauma exerts on our bodies and our minds. Medicine often fails to treat the whole person, ignoring how today’s culture stresses our bodies, burdens our immune systems and undermines emotional balance.
Now, in his most ambitious and urgent book yet, Dr Maté connects the dots between our personal suffering and the pressures of modern-day living – with disease as a natural reflection of a life spent growing further and further apart from our true selves. But, with deep compassion, he also shows us a pathway to health and healing.
Growing up, actor, social media star and disability advocate Chloé Hayden felt like she’d crash-landed on an alien planet where nothing made sense. Eye contact? Small talk? And why are you people so touch-oriented? She moved between 10 schools in 8 years, struggling to become a person she believed society would accept, and was eventually diagnosed with autism and ADHD. When a life-changing group of allies showed her that different did not mean less, she learned to celebrate her true voice and find her happily ever after.
This is a moving, at times funny story of how it feels to be neurodivergent as well as a practical guide, with advice for living with meltdowns and shutdowns, tips for finding supportive communities and much more.
The relationship between trauma and mental health is becoming better recognised, but survivors and professionals alike remain confused about how best to understand and treat it.
In Reclaim, through a series of case studies and expert analysis, Dr Ahona Guha explores complex traumas, how survivors can recover and heal, and the nature of those who abuse. She shines a light on the ‘difficult’ trauma victims that society often ignores, and tackles vital questions such as, ‘Why are we failing the victims of intimate partner violence?, ‘What kinds of behaviours should we see as red flags?’, and ‘Why do some people harm others, and how do we protect ourselves from them?’
Why is mystery so compelling? What draws us to the unknown?
Jonah Lehrer sets out to answer these questions in a vividly entertaining and surprisingly profound journey through the science of suspense. He finds that nothing can capture a person’s attention as strongly as mystery, and that mystery is the key principle in how humans view and understand the world. Whenever patterns are broken, we are hard-wired to find out why. Without our curiosity driving us to pursue new discoveries and solve stubborn problems, we would never have achieved the breakthroughs that have revolutionized human medicine, technology—and culture. From Shakespeare’s plays to the earliest works of the detective genre, our entertainment and media have continually reinvented successful forms of mystery to hook audiences.
A world expert presents a sympathetic exploration of the causes of trauma and the new treatments making it possible for sufferers to reclaim their lives
What causes people to continually relive what they most want to forget, and what treatments could help restore them to a life with purpose and joy? Here, Dr Bessel van der Kolk offers a new paradigm for effectively treating traumatic stress.
Neither talking nor drug therapies have proven entirely satisfactory. With stories of his own work and those of specialists around the globe, The Body Keeps the Score sheds new light on the routes away from trauma – which lie in the regulation and syncing of body and mind, using sport, drama, yoga, mindfulness, meditation and other routes to equilibrium.
A groundbreaking new look at how we pay attention that can help us perform better – and be happier – in the digital world.
Psychologist Gloria Mark began researching how technology affects human attention when offices were first getting computers. Over the last 30 years, she has tracked changes in our attention spans and stress levels, and in the fundamental way our brains process information.
Now in Attention Span, Dr Mark shows how much of what we think we know about attention is wrong. She explores the current crisis of focus and productivity that is so deeply entwined with rising rates of anxiety and depression, and investigates what we might be able to do about it. Delving into the newly celebrated concept of ‘kinetic attention’, she introduces a more balanced understanding of the rhythm between deep focus and less focused states, which may actually serve to make us happier and more productive in the long term.
Lisa Miller has spent decades researching the effects of spirituality on the brain. In this book she draws on her clinical experience and award-winning research to show how an active spiritual life can transform our physical and psychological wellbeing. Bringing scientific rigour to the most intangible aspect of our lives, Miller offers insights into the neurological basis for the increased resilience that comes with nurturing spirituality and highlights its measurable positive effects- decreasing the likelihood of depression and substance abuse, and shifting the course of recovery in many other clinical settings.
We are a wired generation.
In these fast-paced times we are constantly bombarded by high-reward, high-dopamine stimuli. From texting to social media, food to drugs, gambling to shopping, we have become addicted to fleeting and distracting pleasures that are making us sick. In Dopamine Nation, psychiatrist and bestselling author Dr Anna Lembke reveals why our relentless pursuit of pleasure leads to pain and what we can do about it. Bringing together cutting-edge neuroscience with the gripping real life experiences from her clinical practice, Lembke explores how contentment and connectedness are essential tools in keeping dopamine in check. This is an essential book for anyone wanting to find a balance for a happier life.
In today’s technological society, with an unprecedented amount of information at our fingertips, learning plays a more central role than ever. In How We Learn, Stanislas Dehaene decodes its biological mechanisms, delving into the neuronal, synaptic, and molecular processes taking place in the brain. He explains why youth is such a sensitive period, but also assures us that we can enhance our learning and memory at any age. We can all “learn to learn” by taking advantage of the four pillars of the brain’s learning algorithm- attention, active engagement, error feedback, and consolidation.
World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in decades of research on achievement and success, has discovered a truly groundbreaking idea-the power of our mindset.
With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals-personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers, CEOs, and athletes already know: how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area.
This intimate manga collection follows nine adults with developmental disorders as they outline their struggles and triumphs.
Experience the stories of a high school dropout’s new path to education; a person seeing the world through new eyes thanks to their medication; a father and daughter learning to thrive together, and more. This manga illustrates diverse anxieties but also self-empowerment in learning to navigate a world not built with everyone in mind.
Do you think in pictures, patterns or words?
In a world engineered for the verbal thinker, those of us who with a visual brain can often be overlooked and underestimated. In this landmark book, bestselling author of The Autistic Brain Temple Grandin delves into the world of the visual thinker and reveals the hidden powers of this remarkable ability.
Drawing on the latest research and her own experience as a visual thinker, Grandin reveals how our modern structures from education and health through to politics and media are biased towards the dominant verbal thinkers and in turn under serve those of us who see the world differently. This is a perspective shifting book that will open your mind to the value of a life in picture.
With the Curiosities, a whole world of wonders and possibles awaits . . .
Miro wakes one morning to find the world isn’t quite the way he thought it was. When the Curiosities choose Miro as the one they nest on, Miro is led to discover all the marvels waiting in the shadows where no-one else looks. Sometimes though, the Curiosities can make Miro feel alone and invisible in the darkness.
But perhaps Miro isn’t as alone as he thinks…
A beautiful celebration of disability, diversity and pride in who you are, from one of Australia’s most loved and awarded writers for children.
Did you know that some of the world’s greatest minds struggled at school?
Here are thirty people who may not have been top of their class but who have used their dyslexia to their advantage and changed the world for the better.
Read about the ways that these record-breakers, game-changers and risk-takers managed their dyslexia, persevered through hardships and followed their passions to great success. Be inspired by people like Agatha Christie, Richard Branson, Jamie Oliver, Erin Brockovich, Muhammad Ali and Steven Spielberg.
This book is an empowering reminder for all kids struggling at school that they can achieve great things with their brilliant minds.
The robots are here. They make our cars, they deliver fast food, they mine the sea floor. And in the near-future their presence will increasingly enter our homes and workplaces – making human-robot interaction a frequent, everyday occurrence. What will this future look like? What will define the relationship between humans and robots?
A deeply original analysis of our technological future and the ethical dilemmas that await us, The New Breed explains how the treatment of machines can reveal a new understanding of our own history, our own systems and how we relate – not just to non-humans, but also to each other.
Tracking the mind’s fitful development from unruly clumps of seaborne cells to the first evolved nervous systems in ancient relatives of jellyfish, he explores the incredible evolutionary journey of the cephalopods, which began as inconspicuous molluscs who would later abandon their shells to rise above the ocean floor, searching for prey and acquiring the greater intelligence needed to do so – a journey completely independent from the route that mammals and birds would later take.
But what kind of intelligence do cephalopods possess? How did the octopus, a solitary creature with little social life, become so smart? What is it like to have eight tentacles that are so packed with neurons that they virtually ‘think for themselves’? By tracing the question of inner life back to its roots and comparing human beings with our most remarkable animal relatives, Godfrey-Smith casts crucial new light on the octopus mind – and on our own.
Paul Biegler, a science journalist and former doctor who has been on his own pain journey, investigates the true source of chronic pain – our brain’s so-called neuroplasticity – and emerging therapies, including cognitive therapy and graded exercise exposure, that take advantage of that same neuroplasticity to rewire the brain and end the suffering. As he knows only too well, this doesn’t mean the pain is all in a person’s head. The pain is real, but its meaning is often misunderstood.
Through conversations with scientists, doctors, and people who have overcome chronic pain, Biegler shines a light on the rigorous new studies – and emotional personal stories – that are changing the way we understand and treat pain. Most importantly, he shows how to take control over persistent pain and truly heal.
The human brain is made up of 85 billion neurons, which are connected by over 100 trillion synapses. For more than a century, a diverse array of researchers searched for a language that could be used to capture the essence of what these neurons do and how they communicate and how those communications create thoughts, perceptions and actions. The language they were looking for was mathematics, and we would not be able to understand the brain as we do today without it.
In Models of the Mind, author and computational neuroscientist Grace Lindsay explains how mathematical models have allowed scientists to understand and describe many of the brain’s processes, including decision-making, sensory processing, quantifying memory, and more. She introduces readers to the most important concepts in modern neuroscience, and highlights the tensions that arise when the abstract world of mathematical modelling collides with the messy details of biology.
A fresh look at the stories at the heart of Norse mythology, exploring their cultural impact right up to the present day.
This sophisticated yet accessible guide explores how these powerful stories have inspired our cultural landscape, from fuelling the creative genius of Wagner to the construction of the Nazi’s nationalist ideology. Larrington’s elegantly written retellings capture the essence of the original myths while also delving into the history of their meanings. The myths continue to speak to such modern concerns as masculinity and environmental disaster – after the inevitable, apocalyptic ragna rök, renewal comes from the roots of Yggdrasill, the World Tree.
In the 1790s an extraordinary group of friends changed the world. Disappointed by the French Revolution’s rapid collapse into tyranny, what they wanted was nothing less than a revolution of the mind. The rulers of Europe had ordered their peoples how to think and act for too long. Based in the small German town of Jena, through poetry, drama, philosophy and science, they transformed the way we think about ourselves and the world around us. They were the first Romantics.
Their way of understanding the world still frames our lives and being.We’re still empowered by their daring leap into the self. We still think with their minds, see with their imagination and feel with their emotions. We also still walk the same tightrope between meaningful self-fulfilment and destructive narcissism, between the rights of the individual and our role as a member of our community and our responsibilities towards future generations who will inhabit this planet. This extraordinary group of friends changed our world. It is impossible to imagine our lives, thoughts and understanding without the foundation of their ground-breaking ideas.
When Richard Fidler came across the account of Ibn Fadlan – a tenth-century Arab diplomat who travelled all the way from Baghdad to the cold riverlands of modern-day Russia – he was struck by how modern his voice was, like that of a twenty-first century time-traveller dropped into a medieval wilderness. On further investigation, Fidler discovered this was just one of countless reports from Arab and Persian travellers of their adventures in medieval China, India, Africa and Byzantium. Put together, he saw these stories formed a crazy quilt picture of a lost world.
Fidler expertly weaves together these beautiful and thrilling pictures of a dazzling lost world with the story of an empire’s rise and utterly devastating fall.
If you follow the headlines, the world in the 21st century appears to be sinking into chaos, hatred and irrationality. Yet, as Steven Pinker shows, if you follow the trendlines, you discover that our lives have become longer, healthier, safer and more prosperous – not just in the West, but worldwide.
Such progress is no accident- it’s the gift of a coherent value system that many of us embrace without even realizing it. These are the values of the Enlightenment- of reason, science, humanism and progress. The challenges we face today are formidable. But the way to deal with them is not to sink into despair or try to lurch back to a mythical idyllic past; it’s to treat them as problems we can solve, as we have solved other problems in the past. This is the case for an Enlightenment newly recharged for the 21st century.
What do they teach you at the most prestigious design school in the world? For the first time readers have the opportunity to find out. Featuring contributions from some of the d.school’s most inventive and unconventional minds – including founder David Kelley, Choreographer Aleta Hayes and Google Chief Innovation Evangelist Frederik Pferdt – and packed with ideas that help you nurture the art of learning, discovery and curiosity, this provocative and highly-visual guide is a definitive resource for readers who want to expand their creative tool kit and lead with curiosity.
If you’ve ever embarked on a creative endeavour, then there’s a good chance you’ll have been bedevilled by self-doubt, fear of failure or a lack of inspiration at some point along the way. This book will help you to banish those mind-forged monsters one by one, no matter how grotesque or scary they may be.
Drawing on inspirational anecdotes from art, philosophy, neuroscience, nature, music and contemporary culture, creativity expert Richard Holman provides you with your very own mental armoury to see you through every stage of the creative process. You’ll find out how best to overcome the perils of procrastination, the sting of criticism, the seductive tug of convention or the gnawing feeling that you’re not up to it.
When life feels uncertain, or just plain out of control, making intentional choices can help us move forward and find our way. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle nudge, but for anyone waiting for that big, obvious sign from the universe- This is it!
This candid collection of essays and artwork is full of reflections, encouragement, and insights on the theme of personal transformation-realistic perspectives to help you move from “staying alive” to nurturing and celebrating the person you know you really are.
A unique, boxed set of 30 instruction cards by Marina Abramovic to teach you this legend of performance art’s method for reaching a higher consciousness and confronting life’s challenges. Using exercises Marina Abramovic has developed for herself to prepare for her incredible performance works, the Method will help you focus, reconnect with the present, and locate your highest creative potential.
In this major book, internationally bestselling author Rutger Bregman takes some of the world’s most famous studies and events and reframes them, providing a new perspective on the last 200,000 years of human history.
From the real-life Lord of the Flies to the Blitz, a Siberian fox farm to an infamous New York murder, Stanley Milgram’s Yale shock machine to the Stanford prison experiment, Bregman shows how believing in human kindness and altruism can be a new way to think and act as the foundation for achieving true change in our society.
It is time for a new view of human nature.
We’re all searching for answers to the biggest questions: How can we be good? Find calm? Properly grieve? Beat FOMO? Work out what truly matters? Well, the good news is that the wisest minds in history asked the exact same questions – and they found answers. The ancient philosophy of Stoicism shows us that we are already in possession of the very tools we need to excavate this much-needed wisdom for ourselves.
Stoicism can be a tough medicine to swallow, but no longer – this book is awash with insight, humour and compassion. Timely, so very useful, and filled to the brim with ways you can wrest back control, here are all the reasons not to worry.
The story of philosophy is an epic tale- an exploration of the ideas, views and teachings of some of the most creative minds known to humanity.
With his characteristic clarity and elegance A. C. Grayling takes the reader from the world-views and moralities before the age of the Buddha, Confucius and Socrates, through Christianity’s dominance of the European mind to the Renaissance and Enlightenment, and on to Mill, Nietzsche, Sartre, and philosophy today. And, since the story of philosophy is incomplete without mention of the great philosophical traditions of India, China and the Persian-Arabic world, he gives a comparative survey of them too.
In a world that isn’t short of darkness, there could be few more urgent priorities than to spend time rehearsing for ourselves why life – despite all its challenges – still has so much to offer us; why there are still so many reasons to be hopeful.
The book is an eclectic collection of anecdotes and arguments, vibrantly illustrated with artworks and photography, that remind us why we should remain hopeful when all else fails. In a tone that avoids the pitfalls of sentimentality and cynicism, the book urges us to reconnect with our more resilient selves, bidding us to recover faith in what is still possible. At points funny and always encouraging and kind, here is an ideal friend to guide us back to courage and delight.
WORKING YOUR BRAIN
The evidence is clear – almost half of all cases of dementia and cognitive decline are preventable. But sadly none are treatable.
So what are the lifestyle changes that really make a difference to our brain health? What do the experts do to protect themselves from cognitive decline? And what can we do right now to preserve our quality of life as we age?
Save Your Brain answers all these questions and more. A must-read for anyone looking to maintain their quality of life, or that of loved ones, into old age.
How to Calm Your Mind offers a toolkit of accessible, science-backed strategies that reveal how the path to a less anxious life, and even greater productivity, runs directly through calm.
When productivity expert Chris Bailey discovered that he had become stressed and burnt out because he was pushing himself too hard, he realized that he had no right to be giving advice on productivity without learning when and how to rein things in and take a break. Productivity advice works – and we need it now more than ever – but it’s just as important that we also develop our capacity for calm. The pursuit of calm ultimately leads us to become more engaged, focused and deliberate – while making us more productive and satisfied with our lives overall. In an anxious world, achieving calm is the best life hack around.
Our brains are prediction machines, constantly interpreting our environment to make sense of the world around us, but sometimes they make false assumptions. Braintenance will help you understand how this happens and explains the clear, practical steps we can take to correct it.
From developing positive habits and losing bad ones, to setting and achieving your goals, the book will enable you to transform your life for the better. The more you understand about your thinking, the more control you can have over your life. Change is good, your brain just needs some convincing.
Everyone’s familiar with the consequences of lost sleep: you’re groggy and irritable, your focus is off, you don’t perform at your best, and you’re likely to dump sugary foods and caffeine into your system for an energy boost. But the effects of poor sleep go way beyond these concerns. Indeed, they can be life-threatening.
It’s one thing to know the problem, it’s another to fix it. In this book, renowned neuroscientist Dr Stan Rodski takes us through the fundamentals of sleep – how sleep works, why we sleep and how much sleep we need – but, most importantly, he gives us exercises to help overcome the bane of insomnia. In any endeavour, the key to achievement is proper preparation, and sleep is no different. Drawing on the techniques of mindfulness, meditation and relaxation, and the neuroscience that underpins them all, Dr Stan gives you the tools to prepare yourself (and your children) for an excellent sleep – and enjoy it!
Surviving a zombie apocalypse beats a dead-end job any day!
After spending years toiling away for a soul-crushing company, Akira’s life has lost its luster. But when a zombie apocalypse ravages his town, it gives him the push he needs to live for himself. Now Akira’s on a mission to complete all 100 items on his bucket list before he…well, kicks the bucket.
In a trash-filled apartment, 24-year-old Akira Tendo watches a zombie movie with lifeless, envious eyes. After spending three hard years at an exploitative corporation in Japan, his spirit is broken. He can’t even muster the courage to confess his feelings to his beautiful co-worker Ohtori. Then one morning, he stumbles upon his landlord eating lunch—which happens to be another tenant! The whole city’s swarming with zombies, and even though he’s running for his life, Akira has never felt more alive!
Not every gift is a blessing.
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite. But they don’t laugh.
Melanie is a very special girl.
You can run. You can hide. Just don’t pick up…
The event which propels civilisation into its second dark age is known as The Pulse. The virus is carried by every cellular phone operating in the world. Within hours, those receiving calls will be infected. Clayton Riddell, an artist and young father, knows he has to reach his son before the boy switches on his phone. But time is running out . . .
She answered the Emperor’s call.
She arrived with her arts, her wits, and her only friend.
In victory, her world has turned to ash.
After rocking the cosmos with her deathly debut, Tamsyn Muir continues the story of the penumbral Ninth House in Harrow the Ninth, a mind-twisting puzzle box of mystery, murder, magic, and mayhem. Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman’s shoulders. Harrowhark’s health is failing, her magic refuses to cooperate, her sword makes her throw up, and even her mind threatens to betray her. What’s worse, someone is trying to kill her. And she has to wonder: if they succeeded, would the universe be better off?