Title: The Brain
Author: David Eagleman
Category: Psychology, Neuroscience
10-word summary: Everything we experience is filtered or created by the brain.
About The Brain
The Brain is a book that presents an overview of the field of neuroscience. David Eagleman explores complex topics such as identity, the experience of reality, consciousness and describes certain processes that play a role in them.
The book focuses on 6 topics expressed as questions such as “Who am I?” and in each chapter the author looks at some possible answers. The topics are complex and profound, but the book is enjoyable and easy to read. However, the topics addressed are challenging and complex, so do not expect definitive answers.
What I like about The Brain
1. Great overview of neuroscience
The book summarizes a part of the current knowledge of how our brains work. It presents different mechanisms in an informative and enjoyable way. It references real-life events, scientific studies and explanations of how the brain processes information. All this helps us get a basic understanding of how we see, how we make decisions and how we think about ourselves and more.
2. The topics addressed in the book are very interesting
Topics such as identity, the perception of reality, and decision-making are all very interesting and relevant to all of us. Given that we all have brains that create these experiences and they create our own experience of life in every moment, I think that almost anyone would find these ideas intriguing or even fascinating.
3. The book is science-based
The book includes many scientific facts and references scientific experiments. Given that the author, David Eagleman, is a neuroscientist, this shouldn’t surprise us.
I always prefer and recommend science-based books because they are much more informative and reliable than other books. It’s always a great thing when you discover a book that is both science-based and accessible at the same time and The Brain is both.
4. The book is somewhat philosophical at times
Despite being a science-based book, it also focuses on certain topics from a philosophical angle. For example, when discussing decision-making, Eagleman briefly explores the possibility that we may have no free will. The question of whether free will exists is far from being settled and, as he mentions, we do not know what kind of experiment could truly provide the answer to it.
There are other topics that seem more philosophical in nature throughout the book which are prone to make you reflect (as I did).
5. The book is complex and easy to read at the same time
The book addresses complex topics and includes scientific information. Yet you shouldn’t let this intimidate you because the book is well-written and easy to understand. Even if this is the first time you read a psychology book, you will understand and learn a lot from it.
You may not fully understand some concepts just from reading this book, but you can always read and learn more if you want to.
6. I really like the cover of the book
I know that the cover of a book does not matter much as it has nothing to do with the quality of the information in the book. However as many nonfiction books have bland covers that rarely rival those of fiction books, I am always pleasantly surprised to discover good nonfiction books with aesthetic covers.
This also makes me happy because I believe beautiful covers can draw people to certain books and when the book is worth reading, then this is a great advantage.
What I don’t like about The Brain
1. The book doesn’t seem to have a common thread that brings together all the different topics
Different chapters of the book focus on different topics that could be stand-alone articles or could be developed into individual books. When reading the book I enjoyed every chapter, but it feels a bit like the chapters are not connected among themselves very well.
I do believe that this is the inevitable challenge when writing a book that aims to present the current knowledge in a diverse field. However this did not prevent me from enjoying the book.
Quotes from The Brain
“Our perception of reality has less to do with what’s happening out there, and more to do with what’s happening inside our brain.”
“Seeing feels so effortless that it’s hard to appreciate the effort the brain exerts to construct it.”
“Our past is not a faithful record. Instead it’s a reconstruction, and sometimes it can border on mythology. When we review our life memories, we should do so with the awareness that not all the details are accurate.”
“Your brain serves up a narrative – and each of us believes whatever narrative it tells.”
“The unconscious brain can perform at speeds that the conscious mind is too slow to keep up with.”
“Emotions do more than add richness to our lives – they’re also the secret behind how we navigate what to do next at every moment.”
Should You Read The Brain?
Probably. If you want to understand how your brain works to create your experience of being alive, this book is a great starting point. You will learn a lot and you may understand yourself better as a result.
If you are looking for an overview or a refresher on the field of neuroscience, this book is a great choice. You may not learn a lot if you have already read several books on the topic, but you may still enjoy reading it and you may even discover some interesting ideas.
Given that we all use our fascinating brains every moment we are alive, I think that we should all learn a little bit about how they work. The Brain is one of those books that I think almost everyone could benefit from.