I love reading. I read a couple of books a month. And, as you know, I’m fascinated with the weird ways our brain works and the biology of the mind.
This is a short list of great books about the human brain which anyone can read. No need for a neuroscience degree, just a lot of curiosity.
1. The Brain: A Very Short Introduction by Michael O’Shea – Don’t have a lot of time? Want an excellent overview of how the brain works? This book gives a non-technical introduction to the latest findings in current brain research, and will give you a sense of how neuroscience addresses important questions about the relationship between the brain and the mind.
2. How to Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics by Michael Pollan – I have said it countless times: this is one of my favourite books, ever. The back cover doesn’t do it justice. This book is about much more than psychedelics, it’s about what ultimately makes us human. It’s a page-turner you’ll have a hard time putting down.
3. The Brain: The Story of You by David Eagleman – This is not the most detailed book about the brain out there, but it did become a bestseller for a reason. It’s very easy to read, and is a good introduction that will pique your curiosity and make you want to learn more. A great option if you’re not a big reader.
4. Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life by Peter Godfrey-Smith – This one almost reads like a novel. It’s all about how the octopus mind works, and what it’s like to have eight tentacles that are so packed with neurons that they virtually think for themselves. The author’s thesis is that intelligent life evolved not once, but twice, and that octopuses are the closest we’ll ever get to communication with aliens.
5. Neuroscience For Dummies by Frank Amthor – Don’t laugh. This book has been very valuable in my studies to quickly double-check on concepts. I’m not a huge fan of the tone and things are not always written “for dummies” like you’d want it to, but it’s a great reference book you can use as a complement in your journey to understand how the brain works.
Finally, if you want a relaxing, no-screen activity, I recommend ordering a copy of The Human Brain Coloring Book. Designed by two neuroscientists and an anatomist, it’s a fun way to learn about the structure and function of the human brain.