stacked books

 

Books I've Read Lately

Books I Occasionally Read and often Use as References

Principles of Neural Science - Kandel, Schwartz, and Jessel

Neurology - Adams, Schwartz and

Books I've Completed

__________________________________________________

2010

A Single Chard - Linda Sue Park

Because of Winn Dixie - Kate DiCamillo

Virus of the Mind - Richard Brodie

Denialism - Michael Specter

The Godfather - Mario Puzo

World With No End - Ken Follett

Cell - Stephen King

On Writing Well - William Zinsser

2009

The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown

An exciting read for me because the action took place in Washington, D.C and was rife with descriptions of places which I have spent time and stories of which I was familiar, I found the ending disappointing. As a scientist, I was initially intrigued, as I thought Brown was leading me into some type of science (Noetics) that I was unfamiliar with. It turns out that the science upon which much of the book is based is largely discredited. I thought that Brown was going to explore the unlikely conclusions of quantum mechanics which are universally accepted or the more controversial hypotheses of biocentrism.

The Rant Zone - Dennis Miller

Only Dennis Miller can combine hillarious low brow vulgar humor with the Queen's finest English and metaphor after distant metaphor. I  enjoyed reading the book though mechanical use of Miller's signature starting phrase "I'd hate to go off on a rant here..." and signature ending phrase "That's just my opinion, I could be wrong" was tedious.

Multiple Intelligences - Howard Gardner

It was very refreshing to read that Howard Gardner was disappointed in the way some educators have hijacked his theory and turned it into a misguided pedagogy. Gardner points out that his is a theory of psychology and while it may have important implications in the classroom it was not intended as an educational model.

Writing For Social Scientists - Howard S. Becker

Overall this was not a very helpful book. The first couple of chapters summed up the entire book. The remainder of the book was way too verbose, oddly, one of the critiscms the author made of others works. There were definetly some pearls of wisdom but again those were garnered in the early chapters.

Writing Nonfiction - Dan Poynter

While this book has a very infomercial/sales oriented feel towards it, I found it very helpful and have already implemented some of the ideas that were recommended. In fact, the author's premise is that you write books because you want people to buy them and to read them. He breaks nonfiction writing down into a business model. This book tells you how to all the things except actually write the body of the text. I recommend it but buy it used.

Shadow Divers - Robert Kurson

This book has been recommended to me by several friends who are active divers, an activity I have expressed interest in. I   loved this book which is a true story about the discovery of a World War II U-boat sunk off the coast of New Jersey. Not only was the story of the discovery and exploration fascinating but the back ground information and interviews were also fascinating. The author did an excellent job of interviewing his subjects and capturing the emotions and thoughts of all those involved.  

The Polar Shift - Clive Cussler

I like Cussler as an author but did not care for this book. The beginning seemed unorganized and I had trouble keeping track of who was who and what was going on.

Kluge, The Hapahazard Evolution of the Human Mind - Gary Marcus

A kluge is a solution to a problem that isn't perfect but is functional. Often it means modifying an existing machine to perform a new function, when a new machine might do the same job more efficiently a kluge gets the job done without completely rebuilding. Marcus introduces us to this engineering term because the brain is a kluge. The human brain has many sytems built on top of each other, each co-opting strucutre and function from existing modules. Everytime evolution presents a new challenge the brain responds by evolving its existing system using what is currently available. Surely, there are better ways to accomplish the various tasks our brains perform (memory storage and acquistion being the best examples), but those solutions would require scrapping the existing system and starting from scratch. This is not how evolution works however and thus we are saddled with our brains - functional but inefficient.

Why We Suck - Dr. Denis Leary

Leary is one of my favorite comedians. He leaves no stone unturned and claims no sacred cows. He is offensive and vulgar and that is what makes him appealing.  I listened to this book on CD while riding in the car and laughed hysterically. Leary's delivery and anxious speach make it all the better. If you are easily offended or have some cherished principle or view than I   don't recommend the book because Leary is guaranteed to rile you. If you have no such limitations and support Leary's First Ammendment right to speak what he feels than I   highly recommend it. Leary says what others only think.

Smart Kids, Bad Schools, 38 Ways to Save America's Future - Brian Crosby

Crosby's previous book was called The $100,000 teacher and focused on the positive effect paying teachers more could have on our students and nation. In this book, Crosby expands his recomeemdations for public schools. A must read for any administratoror politician who creates school policies and governs taxation for schooling.

Real Education, Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality - Charles Murray

Murray offers a lot of good insights and good ideas. I don't agree with everything he says (eg. strictly limiting the opportunity for college education) but most of what he says warrants merit and discussion. Though some of his solutions are overly simplistic and idealistic, I still enjoyed the book and found that his writing stirred my own thoughts and ideas.

The End of Education - Neil Postman

A tough read. Its more of a lengthy essay.

Healing the Mind - Bill Moyers

OK. Some good parts, some not so good parts.

Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe - Robert Lanza and Bob Berman

Lanza has come up with a very interesting theory on the creation and existence of the universe. On first glance it seems far fetched but when one considers the bizarre conclusions of quantum physics it appears to have merit. Quantum physics tells us that all occurences, at least on an atomic level, are dependent on an observer. The act of observation changes the outcome of atomic events. Lanza's theory is that living things, which are what perform observation, do not exist because of some random events in the universe but that the universe exists because there are living things. Said differently, the universe cannot exist without observers. This is not a religious argument but a scientific one. When summarized it sounds crazy but when you incorporate the proven theories of quantum mechanics the theory allows for so interesting and enlightening conclusions.

Mind Hacks - Tom Stafford and Matt Webb

Great book on the brain written with the assistance of many expert contibutors. In a unique approach, Stafford and Webb explore the mysteries of the brain by first listing the hacks; unusual or interesting ways in which scientists have garnered an understanding of how the brain works. A   good book to keep in a bag for occasional reading as the modules are only several pages long and stand independent from the rest of the book.

A History of Nearly Everthing - Bill Bryson

Awesome scientific history book. Bryson makes this technical and possibly drab subject fascinating, fun and extremely interesting by pursuing the behind the scene stories in the laboratories and studies of the greatest scientists of all time. It turns out that the interactions between competitors and colleagues often read like a story from the National Enquirer. I'll be using alot of the anecdotes as I discuss the topics and scientists in this book. A must read for all science teachers and science buffs.

Naked Prey - John Sanford

An intersting romp

Setting Limits in the Classroom - Robert J. MacKenzie, Ed.D.

This book could have been summarized in 50 pages. The lengthy descriptions of how the limits were and were not implemented in various real classrooms were unnecessary or overdrawn.

Proust was a Neuroscientist - Jonah Lehrer

This book was extremely well written. Jonah Lehrer goes back in time to examine how leaders in literature, music, and food preparation defined their art by having the foresight to utilize neuroscientific knowledge to advance their genre. They did this without the benefit of today's neuroscientific discoveries. Lehrer's eclectic knowledge base and experiences combine for a fascinating examination of current neuroscientific discoveries in the the context of historic figures who transformed their art. I especially enjoyed the chapter on Auguste Escoffier. There are eight different chapters which deal with eight different artists, each of which could be a stand alone essay. This allowed me to read this book over an extended period of time.

Brain Rules - John Medina

One of the most relevant books I've read on the subject. Medina takes some very compicated research from the neuroscience community and translates it into a language that everyone can understand. In addition to simplifying what neuroscience is saying about the brain and learning, he offers intelligent advise for teaching and business management.

Who Moved My Cheese - Spencer Johnson

Many people I know have already this little gem. It is very short and can be read in a couple of hours. Its lessons are clear and and simple. The lessons are embedded into an enjoyable story about 4 mice whose lives are changed and how they react to that change. It teaches us to confront our fear of change and accept it as part of life. Instead of wanting for the way it used to be, or complaining about the changes, it teaches us to see change as a natural part of life. The individuals who are successful are those that respond to change by changing themselves.

What Does it Mean to Be Well Educated? - Alfie Kohn

This is a collection of essays writteen by Alfie Kohn between 1999 and 2003. Kohn is one of the preeminent education theorists and advocates. He has some favorite topics which are touched on repeatedly - standardized testing, curriculum alignment, grading, merit pay, and the effects of praise. This book should be mandatory reading for every administrator, school board member, and every politician who has ever uttered the words "accountability, education and standardized tests in the same speech."

Your Inner Fish - Neil Shubin

This was an outstanding book about how paleontology utilizes the fossils of ancient organisms to demonstrate transistions in evolution. In this particular story, Neil Shubin, a paleontologist takes the reader to various dig sites in search of a creature which made the first transition from water to land. Shubin shares the excitement of important finds as well as the despair of long periods of unsuccessful searching. I particularly enjoyed the final chapter where Shubin explains unusual mammalian constructions and behaviors (such as hiccups) by explaining how systems from our fish ancestors were usurped and modified for our terrestrial life.

The Tao of Teaching: The Ageless Wisdom of Taoism and the Art of Teaching - Greta K. Nagel

This book fulfilled my expectations as acertained from the title, but offered little more. Each chapter was brief and was presented in two parts: A Taoist teaching or proverb followed by a classroom relfection of how that proverb is applied in a particular teacher's classroom. At times, I found the book monotonous and dull and that may be because it is meant to be read 1 or 2 chapters at a time as opposed to 40 chapters at a time. I found many of the Tao teachings to be applicable in the classroom though I sometimes found the stories that followed to be forced.

The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch

I enjoyed this story mostly because of the back story and the emotional impact that had on the material presented. Randy Pausch is a computer science teacher at Carnegie Mellon who is dying from pancreatic cancer. The college asks him to give one last lecture to summarize his philosophy and musing on life. Pausch assumes this feat despite the demands of his brief remaining time. He ends up writing a lecture which is intended for his 3 small children to someday read or listen to. He compiles a lifetime of fatherly instruction and "don't do as I did" stories into this wonderfully passionate summation of life. Pausch clearly demonstrates that though he will die before the age of 50 he has lived more than most in their 80's. Pausch states that he loves cliches, so I will conclude by saying that Pausch embodies the phrase, "It is better to have more life in your years, than years in your life."

Your Brain: The Missing Manual - Matthew MacDonald

The title, cover, and colorful headings inside this book gave me the impression that this was going to be a very basic grade school book without much insight. I was surprised to find that there was some good insights and the the book was very easy to read. MacDonald uses a writing style which is both interesting and entertaining. Pictures, charts and graphs are well thought out in terms of their relation to the associated text and the differently colored caption boxes often provide interesting and sometimes whimsical facts as well as pointing out websites or books for further reading. There is an air of humor mixed with intellectual exploration in this book.

Cerebrum 2008 - Dana Foundation

This book is a compilation of essays and book reviews on various brain topics which was issued as an accompaniment to the scientific periodical Cerebrum. Most of the essays were unique and interesting and touched on topics which I don't often read about, such as prion diseases.

Rage - Jonathan Kellerman

This was a good book by Kellerman who always writes a good story. I was somewhat disappointed by the ending but that happens sometimes when you read fiction. I liked the interplay between the psychologist and the gay macho cop. You become so engrossed in a story sometimes and become so familiar with the characters that you anticipate a certain ending. I found the revealing of the perpetrator to be disturbing given that the victims are young kids but again a good author can pull on the readers emotions.

The Jossey-Bass Reader on the Brain and Learning - Jossey-Bass Publishers

This again was a compilation of essays written by the leaders in the field of Cognitive Science. I was familiar with all the authors. This was the best book on brain research and its implications both current and future that have come across. It appeared to me that the editor solicited each author with a particular topic so as to generate a coherent and flowing text. For the most part the authors confined themselves to what is known and steered clear of unsubstantiated conclusions and abstractions.

Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett

I've read Ken Follet books before, usually action crime dramas. This book was a departure from his usual genre. This book would qualify as historical fiction. I learned a lot about what it meant to survive in 11th century Europe. I was taken by the day to day dilemmas faced by peasants that were often life threatening. I also found the struggles between various religious factions and aristocracy. I found myself cheering for the towns people in their quest to build a cathedral and to defend themselves from power hungry lords in nearby Earldoms. Follet does an excellent job of weaving several stories and the fates of the characters together. I thought that the language used by the characters was appropriate though he had to sacrifice orginal Old English for more modern English to make the story appealing to 20th/21st century readers. An excellent thogh exceptionally long book.

Breaking Point - Suzanne Brockmann

This was a fun fast moving story about a hardened FBI agent, Max Bhagat who is thrown into a world wide search for his one time lover who has fallen the hands of criminal agents. While this was well written, I could have done without the frequent explicitly written sex scenes. In addition, the sexual and romantic tension which was weaved through the story is again not a preferred subplot for myself. That being said, it was a well written story and overall I enjoyed it. Character develpoment was excellent. Some of the circumstances that ensured the flow of the story were far fetched and unlikely but as a reader I am willing to suspend my disbelief for a fictional story provided the departures from realism are conceivable. I think this type of crime drama is designed to engage the female audience but I   would recommend it for anyone.

Book of Fate - Brad Meltzer

This was a good book. Meltzer doesn't skimp on the details. When he describes a scene he engrosses you in the moment, describing every smell, sight, sound, and feeling. If Meltzer is describing a a swamp, you'll feel the cold mud oozing into your shoes as you read. I found his style really put me into the scenes as an omniscient observer and at times as the characters themselves. The story circulates around a young presidential aide, Wes, who suffers a disfiguring injury after an assassination attempt. Eight years after the incident, Wes is still serving the now former president, when he begins to unravel a conspiracy surrounding the assassination attempt. As the lies and truths unfold, Wes becomes more and more entrenched in the deception that has been porvayed and as a result more endangered. I really learned something about the inner workings of Washington politics and about what life might be like for an ex-president.

Synaptic Self: How Our Brain Becomes Who We Are - Joseph LeDoux

Just when I thought I was approaching a good understanding of the workings of the mind as they are understood today, LeDoux opens up a whole new area of study. In Synaptic Self, Ledoux explores the workings of the human brain from the perspective of the synapse; the small space between neurons, which ultimately defines who we are, what we do, and what we know. Reading and undestanding this book is a big undertaking. It is filled with insights and conclusions that are steeped in scientific data and prose. LeDoux is masterful at indicating who the goto people in cognitive science are as he describes many of their experiments and theories that have influenced cognitive and neuroscience.

2008

On Dreams - Sigmund Freud

This book written by Freud, is a synopsis of his earlier tome The Interpretation of Dreams. In this book, Freud lays out his theory on the significance of dreams and how their interpretation provides a window into the psyche of an individual. Though some of his theories have proven to be incorrect, it is clear that Freud had greater understanding of the mind than anyone at the end of the 19th century. Many of his hypotheses have provided the basis upon which much of cognitive science, psychology, and even philosophy is built today.

Experience and Education - John Dewey

This was a re-read for me. I wanted to read it as a research source. Having done so, I felt that I extracted far more from the book then I initially did. This book was first published in 1938 and provides a summary of John Dewey's observations and conclusions about education. Dewey was the preeminent educational theorist of his time. What struck me was that this book could have easily been written in 2007, as most of Dewey's analysis and criticisms of education and teaching ring true today. Dewey is right on the mark as he ascribes the need for the teacher to take into account a learners past, present, and future when developing a lesson plan.

The Brain that Changes Itself - Norman Doidge, MD

This was another great book on neuroscience as it relates to the brain and particularly to neuroplasticity. When I read a book, I write notes in the margins and underline key phrases. This book is now filled with my own writing, a testiment to the number of things in it that I found important or profound, or which inpired ideas of my own. Very readble even for the novice and an excellent review of the current literature/research on plasticity.

The Last Templar - Raymond Khoury

Wow! I loved this book and I suspect anyone who enjoyed The DaVinci Code would also (the book, not the movie). In this tale of the Knight's Templar, Khoury weaves together the lives of a contemporary archeologist, FBI agent, and a criminal with those of fourteenth century templar knights as they sacrifice to preserve the templar's greatest treasure. Towards the end of the book, some of the occurences pass over into the unbelievable, but that's OK because by then I was so enthralled with the story that unlikely survivals by the main characters didn't matter. Given all of the distress many Christian churches expressed over the DaVinci Code, I am surprised I didn't hear similar runblings about this book as it raises substantial questions about all religions, but particularly about Christianity's underpinnings. In the end, Khoury absolves religion of its past indiscretions because of the good it does in today's world and because to effectively undress relgion's falacies would throw billions of lives into turmoil and purposelessness.

Healing and the Mind - Bill Moyers

This book consists of a series of interviews Moyers had with leading healthcare practitioners in regards to the ability of the mind to control the remainder of the body. It specifically tackled the ways that state of mind and activites of mind can impact disease acquisition and course. His style helps to remove the stigma and subjectivity from the practice of what is often termed Eastern medicine practices by interviewing individuals who are each in their own rights people of science and objectivity who have found greater efficacy in treatments that incorporate the powers of the mind including the management of some of the biggest killers in modern society - heart disease and cancer. Easy to read because each interview was its own self conatined story.

Top of the Class - Dr. Soo Kim Abboud and Jane Kim

This wasn't the best book though it offered some reasonably good advice. The subtitle was catchy - How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers - And How You Can Too. Not necessarily a political correct topic but then nothing worth reading usually is. The book outlines the adventures of sisters who are the children of immigrant Korean parents. It alternates beween stories and the moral or advice that is reflected in that story. It takes 200 pages to say Asian parents are much stricter and take the education of their children more seriously than American parents. There are no surprises here; study every night, parents assist students in their studies, parents push the kids to learn above and beyond the assigned work, weekends and vactions are still times of learning, rewards and punishments work when properly dealt, learning is a family affair (as is success and failure), standardized tests are important and can have undeserved impact on one's future and therefore must be prepared for, sometimes years in advance, and so on.

Point Blank - Catherine Coulter

This was a fun, fast paced book. It is a fictional story involving murder, romance, deceit and revenge. It follows two separate crimes tied together only by the individuals investigating them. Alternating between the two investigations injects freshness into the story. Not all the loose ends are tied up by the author, which while diconcerting to the reader probably adds to the reality.

This is Your Brain On Music - Daniel J. Levitin

Levitin does a masterful job of discussing the functioning of the brain from the perspective of the human experience of music. In addition to covering much of the research that has impacted the field which covers the reciprocal influences of the brain with music, Levitin provides some basic musical theory to assist the reader in their analysis of the research. Finally, he provides examples from various musical genres as points of reference. The book was right on target for me. There were sections that might delve too deeply into the neurology or physiology of the brain for the average reader but much of this could probably be skimmed without changing the overall feel of the book or the understanding that is gleaned from it.

The Naked Brain - Richard Restak, M.D.

Another great book. Restak does an excellent job of reviewing past and cuurent brain research. He also discusses breakthroughs in the neuropsychological research that is being used by marketing companies, the military and others to predict peoples' responses to advertising and stressful situations. Clearly, the only way the average citizen can protect their autonomy is by educating themselves similarly.

The Art of Changing the Brain - James Zull

This is the first book on the brain I have come across the professes a goal similar to my own - To bridge the gap between the brilliant scientists doing research on the brain and the people who ultimately will need to apply, teachers.

Second Nature - Gerald Edelman, M.D., Ph.D.

Edelman is a brilliant scientist and appears after reading this text an intuitive philosopher. He cuts through the problems that neuroscience currently faces, clearing away so many of the misrepresentations and misunderstandings to reveal the core problems that need to be addressed and then offering directions on how to solve them. Sometimes he is hard to follow but his conclusions seem simple and direct.

The Evolving Brain - R. Grantsteen

This was a great book. It was probably more of an overview of the brain and current research than an exposition on the evolution of the brain.

Get the Edge - Anthony Robbins

Classic Tony Robbins. Some of this covered the same ground as Personal Power but there was plently of new insightful things especially dealing with relationships.

The Blind Watchmaker - Richard Dawkins

This was a great book on evolution. Dawkins tactfully dispells many of the myths about evolution while at the same time making a clear and convincing argument for Darwin's universal theory.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling

What a great end to this fantastic series that brought reading, imagination and fatasy to so many children and adults. You know a good book when you can't put it down and when you do you find yourself searching for the next time you can get back to it. This was an edge of your seat suspense filled ride. Save for the last few pages, Rowling was unrelenting in her treatment of the plot andthe characters. I have never enjoyed reading a series of books more than these.

Think

Think is a book written in response to the metaphysical text entitled "Blink" which I have not read. "Blink" is a book which suggests that we as a species are better off listening to our intuition and first impression and that we fail when we over-think problems and situations. "Think" on the ther hand sees this philosophy as what is going wrong with young Americans, who in some instances appear incapable of critical thinking. At times the author goes off on tangents that he doesn't seem to entirely wrap up. It wasn't an easy book to read just because of the author's style of writing but the premise and logic were worthwhile to explore.

Just read it a second time so that I could extract some research information from it. It was just as good the second time through - Chock full of information and insightful comments.

Personal Power - Anthony Robbins

This was a 9 disc audio book /seminar by one of the best motivational speakers. In this series, Robbins discusses how to create neural associative pathways within the brain and how to improve one's lot in life by changing the way you think. Despite being created 12 years ago, I thought these were exceptional and relevant. These were worth listening to over and over.

Side Effects - Michael Palmer

This book is about a medical pathologist who uncovers a criminal activity in her hospital. It was good though slightly unbelievable.

8 Weeks to Optimum Health - Andrew Weil, M.D.

Weil is the guru of alternative medicine. I liked this book because Weil offers advice which I found to be grounded in mostly science and he wasn't afraid to dismiss some of the sacred cows of the alternative health culture as baseless which suggests to me that he is genuine. Weil uses an 8 week approach to change people's dietary habits, physical activity and mental health.

The Dilbert Future - Scott Adams

I listened to this book on tap. It is written by the man who draws the Dilbert comic strip. This was a follow up to Adams' first installment "The Dilbert Principle". It was funny at times but also had moments where it was slow and self congratulatory. I listened to about 3/4 of it before shutting it off. I never finished it.

Three Pound Enigma - Shannon Moffett

This was great book written by a woman who was in medical school at the time she wrote it. She must be an exceptional person because the book is very well written and utilizes interviews of leaders in the field of cognitive and neurological science to tell the story of how the brain functions. Moffett not only provides enlightenment in this growing field but she also shows us the human side of the men and women who are responsible for its growth. I found the dialogue with the late Francis Crick particularly interesting.

Endangered Minds - Jane M Healy

This is a great book that challenges society and educational institutions to consider the impact of a child's environment, rearing and exposures. Healy raises many controversial issues and shorycomings in education and she offers realistic solutions. This book shold be read by every current and future teacher and will also be enlightening to all parents.

Mind Wide Open - Steven Johnson

Another great book. This book presents Johnson's description of the mind and its inner workings carefully encrypted within his self deprecating humor. Johnson describes many of the minds activities via their evolutionary purpose and to a certain degree within the context of how we have outgrown those purposes.

How the Mind Works - Steven Pinker

Pinker is the King. His breadth of knowledge bridges psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, philosophy, computer science, mathematics, and literature. He draws upon all these disciplines and others to create a demanding and compelling read. He deftly presents a convincnig argument supporting the computational theory of mind and provides the reader with real tangible examples to explain a science which can be dauntingly complex. At times he deviates from the discussion of the mind

2007

Your Brain is (Almost) Perfect: How We Make Decisions - Read Montague

This was an interesting book, though not for those seeking light reading. Montague takes the reader through the processes which allow us to think and motivate us by examining some experimental data but primarily through the theoretical musings of computational neuroscience, the mathematical representation of the workings of the brain. It is difficult to summarize this book because the information is often presented in a language that is foreign to most outside of the neuroscience field but it is an excellent book in terms of its content and conclusions.

The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century - Thomas L. Friedman

This book was a surprise to me. I elarned an incredible amount about how the advance in the final decade of the 20th century and the first 5 years of the 21st century have exacted incredible change in the world. The "flattening of the world" is a term thatdescribes how the personal computer, the internet, massive amounts of fiberoptic cables, outsourcing, insourcing and supply chain advances have radically changed the way people receive information and the way large and small businesses operate in the global economy. The flattening of the world in essence is the flattening of the playing field. Prior to this revolution, most of the information and control in populations and in businesses came from the top down; a few at the top filtered and disseminated information as they saw fit. In the new world, all people have equal access to information because of innovations like the internet and modern conventions like the personal computer and economic forces which made both of these accessible and affordable to people all over the world. Friedman describes these forces and their effects, including the geo-political ramifications for China, Russia, and India (along with half the world's formerly informationally and economically confined populations) along with the impact on the West. He also covers the rarely publicized positive aspects of outsourcing and the effectiveness by which terrorist organizations have also spread their ideologies and recruited suicide bombers using the new world flatness. This was a very thoughtful book and I would recommend it to any businessman or investor despite some overreaching theories on terrorism in the latter part of the book.

How Doctors Think - Jerome Groopman

The author states early on this is a book intended for laypeople, however the early chapters probably are not. As a physician I  found the book enlightening and found myself agreeing with may of Groopman's analyses. Groopman outlines the pitfalls in medical education and the algorithmic methodology with which doctors are taught to address a patient's problem. H also outlines some of the misconceptions patients may have about their physicians and how patients can help their doctors to ask the right questions which will lead toward a better diagnosis or a better treatment. The latter part of the book is outstanding as Groopman peels back the veil of uncertainty which so many doctors and patients either don't acknowledge or hide behind. A defintie read for anyone who is going through an illness or has a family member who is encumbered by our health care system.

Chaos - James Gleick

This book primarily focuses on the history of the new field of chaos theory. It explores its applications in the quantification of nature. Much of what chaos theory describes was only recently considered indescribable with mathematical equations. The book seems to want to serve 2 incompatible purposes. It is on one hand clearly intended to be read by those with some mathematical or scientific training but it offers none of the actual mathematical derivations or algorithms.

The Darwin Awards - Wendy Northcutt

This book is humorous in a macbre way. It is compilation of the stories of the winners and contenders for the dubious Darwin Award. Individuals who win this award do so by commiting acts of astounding stupidity which result in their death or inability to procreate. The award is given to the infamous lot because they have removed their genes from the potential gene pool thereby not passing their "stupid" genes onto the next generation. Stories include the man who used a lit match to peer into his gas can to see how much was in there and the man who wanted to test the flammable methane contained in a cow's fart by putting a lighter up to the cow's derriere blowing up the cow and thus killing himself with a jetisoned thigh bone. Stories are ranked according to the reliability of their sources. Some are discounted as urban legend but still relayed for their humor. Fun and easy to read. The stories are short and self-conatined, so you can read as little as you like over a long period of time without forgetting key elements of a story. This book makes for excellent bathroom reading.

Driving Mr. Albert - Michael Paterniti

This book was a bizarre story about the pathologist who through a series of unusual events performed the autopsy on Albert Einstein and despite the wishes of Einstein and his family removed his brain for study. He split the brain into many parts and created slide plate specimens which he rarely allowed to be seen by the rest of the scientific community. The story recounts the adventures of a reporter who tracks down the doctor and drives cross country with him and the jarred remnants of Einstein's brain. The dialogue and the observations are at times revealing and at times humorous. This was a good book. Its a literary piece not a scientific one and can be read in a day.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling

This was a great, entertaining book. The best of the first six. It was filled with peril and tension. I couldn't wait to open it each night to continue the story. Harry is more grown up in this book and has lost his adoloescent pretense and moodiness. There is romance, action, mystery, and despair. Something for everyone. Can't wait to start the last book in the series.

The Mind and the Brain - Jeffrey Schwartz, M.D. and Sharon Begley

This was an outstanding book. It is a description of the brain and its workings and involves some neuroscientific sleuthing. Schwartz lays out an argument for a new force of nature called "mental force" which is created by the mind an entity he argues that is different than the brain - the physical representation of neurons and synapses. In addition, tries to convince the reader that human beings have free will, that we are not automatons simply reacting predictably, albeit in complicated ways, to our environment. He challenges the determinists with arguments from Quantum Mechanics and Bohr's Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. The arguments are compelling though I wasn't sold on several aspects of it. Its a masterful scientific work but at times the explanations are difficult to follow. If you are into the workings of the brain then this is a must read.

Einstein - Walter Isaacson

This was an enjoyable biography on Einstein. Much of the book is derived from letters that Einstein sent and received. These unique first hand accounts allow Isaacson to make you feel as if you are in the room with Einstein as he interacts with his family and colleagues. Isaacson takes the reader through not only Einsteins scientific theories, but also through his political, religious, social, and romantic ideologies.

After reading the book, I  took out the unabridged CD set of this to listen to in the car. It was read both expertly and pleasureably by Edward Herrmann. It was a wonderful month, listening to those 21 hours in my car. I felt as if I was driving with Einstein in the car and I was actually disappointed when I   had reached the end because I   would no longer be drivin with Einstein.

The Lost City - Clive Cussler

A fun little NUMA  story. Not as good as some of the others I've read by Cussler.

An Alchemy of Mind - Patricia Ackerman

This was an unusual book. I picked up thinking it was a scientific exploration of the brain. It turned out to be more of an artistic look at the brain and its organiziation. Ackerman uses lots of colorful prose in her descriptions of the brains actions and simultaneously draws upon her own anecdotal experiences. At times it was difficult to read at times because I was looking for more scientific information and she was busy discussing her summer vacations as a child but at other times, the stories and the colorful descriptions made difficult concepts easier to understand. I would recommend this book for the student of the arts who wishes to learn more about the brain. Its not a technical exploration of the brain. Its more the authors reflections of the brain's impact on the human experience.

Post Mortem - Patricia Cornwell

This was Cornwell's first mystery novel and it features her prolific Medical examiner, Dr. Scarpetta. I   hadn't read this book before and was thouroughly entertained. As a writer, Ms. Cornwell pays particular attention to the details and it sets the scene for the suspenseful moments that she weaves into the story. The book is certainly dated; computers are a new and cumbersome technology, the characters frequently smoke indoors, and DNA  testing is inits infancy. Still, this is only a minor distraction as the doctor combs through forensic evidence and crime scenes in pursuit of a serial strangler in Richmond, VA.

The Ethical Brain - Michael S. Gazzaniga

This book essentially answers the moral and ethical questions of the 21st century, both present and future, from the perpsective of Neuroscience as viewed by Mr. Gazzaniga. It is a book on logic. Gazzaniga argues that the brain is an automatic organ, that to some degree there is no free will for an individual. According to Gazzaniga, free will only exists when humans interact. Free will exists in the social interaction between humans. Gazzaniga offers similar arguments for other areas.

Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire - Rafe Esquith

This is a great book for teachers. I think it is particularll pertinent to the teacher who has been in the profession for several years or for the ones who may have lost their desire. Esquith is as he states, "An actual classroom teacher". As such, his empathy for the children is genuine and his methodologies are tested and fine tuned. This is in opposition to other books I   have read where method recommendations border on the absurd and clearly reflect a disconnect from the classroom. Esquith has endless energy and a giant heart. As a teacher, he wants his students to make the best decisions in life and his job is to provide them with the tools to do so. He imparts a zest for learning both through example and by understanding the mind and social structure of his students. Some of his fellow teachers probably despise him, as he presents first hand accounts of his colleagues poor teaching and disciplinary methods, but in a way that is the beauty of the book. It is frank and he pulls no punches. I highly recommend this book to young experienced teachers and older teachers who have lost their way. We don't teach for the paycheck or the holidays, we teach for the children. Esquith knows this, and his actions embody this. This is not a book filled with lofty ideals and empty concepts. It is a book about success.

Einstein Never Used Flashcards

I read about half of this book and had to stop. It really wasn't what I was expecting. It focuses on early childhood. Perhaps I'll pick it up another time.

On Writing - Steven King

This book is intended as a an abstract telling of how King came to be an author and the elements that make for good writing. King sews into this "How to/How I Did it" novel an autobiography - describing the events in his life that influenced his writing. A  good book for the Steven King fan or for anyone might consider leaping into the world storytelling. King offers lots of sage advice, such as "If you don't read, don't become a writer." It sounds simple, but everyone thinks they can be a writer, because we all have a story to tell, but the ability to turn that story into a gripping piece of literature is a talent few possess.

Dean Koontz's Frankenstein - Dean Koontz

Koontz delivers something for everyne in this twist on the Frankenstein story. Set in modern day New Orleans, Koontz interweaves murder mystery, horror fantasy, and psychological thriller to create a riveting tale. Koontz explores the human pscyhe as he unveils both the introspective character who offer insight on the human condition and those that seek introspection to find nothing, giving us an understanding of what it means to be "not human".

Atlantis Found - Clive Cussler

This is an action packed romp with Cussler's favorite indestructible creation, Dirk Pitt. Pitt is a combination of James Bond, Jack Bauer and MacGyver all rolled up into one. Cussler creates an interesting storyline complete with villains, lovers, fast cars, and unusual settings. A fun book that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

Phantoms in the Brain - V.S. Ramachandran, M.D., Ph.D. and Sandra Blakeslee

WOW. This was an awesome book for anyone interested in cognitive science. Ramachandran outlines how he has made ground breaking discoveries and shattered long held beliefs by studying the oddities of neurology. He takes us through his thought process, simultaneously introducing us to his patients. Ramachandran takes a unique scientific perspective, extolling the virtue of examining the lack of or the unusual function in the exceptions to better understand the processes in the masses. At the same time, he injects humor and story telling in to the mix which makes for pleasant reading.

Without Remorse - Tom Clancy

This was not what I was expecting. While it is a good read, it lacks the technical detail and suspense of a typical Tom Clancy novel. The story centers on th character John Kelly, ex-military, who becomes involved in a revenge-murder

plot. The story eventually splits into a second parallel plot that merges with the original in the climactic ending. While, I liked the book and would recommend it, I felt at times it borrowed too much from the Charles Bronson movie, Death Wish.

Blowfly - Patricia Cornwell

This is another Dr. Scarpetta novel. It includes the exploits of her neice, and all her usual sidekicks. I was disappointed that Dr. Scarpetta was not significantly involved in the plot, in fact, she was more of an accessory. Also, the plot seemed a little contrived and far fetched with all the characters ending up in the same place at the end of the story. Additionally, we are left with an untied plot line and a there is a surprise character who returns from the dead (figuratively). Despite all this, it was an enjoyable book with the plot moving quickly throughout.

In Search of Memory - Eric Kandel

An incredible book written by an incredible man who led an incredible life. This book details Eric Kandel's life and pursuit

of how the brain functions, particularly, how memory is created, stored and recalled. It is at times a technical book. Also, you will find an excellent introspective look at the scientific process. Woven into the same book is Kandel's autobiography from his time in Vienna, the arrival of the Nazis, his emigration to the United States and his life ultimatley as a research biologist which culminated in his receiving the Nobel prize in physiology and medicine. What is truly remarkable is the people he has interacted with over his life which is a Who's Who of the greatest biological scientists of the 20th century. A must read for any endeavoring scientist or physician.

2006

__________________________________________________

How the Brain Learns - Sousa

In this book Sousa decribes a variety of scientific research and attempts to bridge the gap between lab rats and human children. The problem here is that while children may react in ways similar to research animals in some instances, in the majority of circumstances they are too dissimilar to make this leap. Truly, Sousa does make many leaps of faith in this book and often the divide is too great and therefore the applications he describes lack merit. In addition, Sousa has created exercises and activities at the end of each chapter which are intended to reflect the chapters content. While some are useful and insightful, I found many of the exercises to be of little value in an actual classroom setting where there is a diverse group of learners, with varying maturity levels and receptiveness. All that being said, Sousa provides a good general review of the brain and how learning occurs.

The Wisdom Paradox - Elkhonon Goldberg

I really enjoyed this book. Goldberg is one of the most intelligent writers I've encountered. The basic premise of the book is the paradixical conception that aging brings cerebral degeneration and at the same time wisdom. Goldberg makes a good argument that the aged brain has its advantages. In addition, Goldberg describes a process by which the brains of adults can be maintained and protected against the effects of the degenerative process (Alzheimers, Senility). My only criticism is that the book at times appears to be geared toward the layperson and at other times becomes very technical.

Stiff - Mary Roach

This is the best book I've read in the past year. It has particular appeal to me as a former student of anatomy and after 3 years as a teaching and research assistant for anatomy and neuroanatomy. Roach weaves fascinating facts about cadaveric research with humorous anecdotes. In this book, you will find out that cadavers lead incredibly interesting lives or post-lives. Roach takes us from the anatomy lab to cadavers that are used in crash tests and balistics tests. She helps to understand the human-economic equation that goes into whether or not safety devices will be utilized in the airline industry. She even describes the use of cadavers in the study of Biblical renderings in the chapter entitled "The Crucifixtion Experiments". Roach's research and presentation are so impressive it makes the reader want to run out and sign up for a donation program

A Brief History of the Universe - Stephen Hawking

Hawking takes the reader on a journey from the beginning of the universe, the big bang, through today's current cosmic expansion. Then Hawking takes it one step further and poses a theory of what it was like prior to the big bang. In addition, he postulates that there may very well be other universes.

The Universe in a Nutshell - Stephen Hawking

Hawking rehashes much of what is found in his classic, A Brief History of the Universe, but also introduces us to string theory, multiple dimensions, and black hole theory.

The Coffin Dancer - Jeffery Deaver

A good book featuring Deaver's bitter character Lincoln Rhyme. Its classic Deaver with multiple plot twists. Not his best book but a worthwhile read.

The Alienist - Caleb Carr

This is a great book. Carr creates an atmosphere that makes the reader feel as if they really are in 19th century New York City. Woven into this fictional story of serial murder are crisp renderings of history. The book also brings to light the uneasy beginnings of forensic science and criminal psychology. The characters are real and their relationships are well constructed. I highly recommend this book.

Angel of Darkness - Caleb Carr

This book is a sequel to The Alienist. It features the same characters but lacks the same realness created in the first book. If you liked the Alienist, you'll want to read this, but don't expect to be left with the same impression.

The Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis

.................The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

.................The Magician's Nephew

.................The Horse and his Boy

.................Prince Caspian

.................The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

.................The Silver Chair

.................The Last Battle

I didn't actually read these books. I listened to a great unabridged recording read by and essentially acted out by a multitude of talented people. The books are great children's tales featuring fantastic tales of adventure and lore but are equally entertaining for adults. While the stories are geared towards children, the stories are loose Biblical allegories. The stories effectively teach some of the morals of Christianity that might be difficult to understand as presented in the Bible.

Angels and Demons - Dan Brown

This book was written prior to Brown's blockbuster, The DaVinci Code. Angels and Demons brings with it the same mystique and puzzle solving in this account of conspiracy at the Vatican. I enjoyed this book as much as The DaVinci Code.

The Owner's Manual for the Brain - Pierce Howard

This is a difficult read as the text is encyclopedic in its approach and the author has an air of pretentiousness. Nevertheless, it is a valuable resource to the student of the inner workings of the brain.

Experience in Education - John Dewey

This is a dissertation on the state of education today. Dewey presents some intelligent arguments on whats wrong with education and then suggests some practical fixes. It is a difficult read intended for those in educational administration.

Minds, Brains and Learning - James Byrnes

When I started this book I was excited about reading a text whose author was cynical and objective about the real world applications that brain based learning proponents have extrapolated from brain research. Ultimately, I   found this book to be boring and lacking in the poignant criticism I had expected.

Brain Based Learning - Eric Jensen

Another book on brain based learning written for educators. It delivers all the ncessary information in a concise well written format. It is more readable than some of the other authors who present on the subject, and while there are some great leaps that Jensen makes from science to practice, he presents them in a believable context. I also appreciated that Jensen refrained from issuing edicts on classroom practice as other authors have. If you're looking for a first book to read on brain based learning, this is the one. Jensen sets the bar high.

Teaching With the Brain in Mind - Eric Jensen

Jensen may be the most well known of the brain based learning proponents. In this text, Jensen simply reviews the research and provides some suggestions for classroom application. Jensen is cautious not to overstep the applicability of some of the research though he does at times cross the line of what I would consider valid conclusions. A good quick read.

Inside the Brain - Ronald Kotulak

A good review of the brain, its anatomy, and function. Kotulak then walks the reader through the research of the last 20 years.

Learning and Memory - Merilee Spencer

The information in this book is probably outdated. It is written well and can be read relatively quickly.

Brains that Work a Little Bit Differerently - Bragdon and Gamon

This book presents different brain/learning disabilities and presents their signs, symptoms and etiology in terms of learning. The book is a bit too general and purports certain untested remedies as fact.

Brain Matters - Patricia Wolfe

Wolfe is one of the pioneers in brain based learning. This book gives the reader an idea of what the field was like 10 years ago when President Bushdeclared the 1990's as the decade of the brain.

On Intelligence - Jeff Hawkins and Sarah Blakeslee

Great book for logical thinkers. Hawkins is one of the great computer scientists and entrepeneurs of our timme, having brought us the Palm devices and the Handspring devices. He also has an insatiable desire to learn about the brain and ultimately he would like to take that knowledge and apply it artificial intelligence design. Hawkins suggests that we are incorrect when we say that the brainis like a computer. It is not, but he believes that computers would be much better if we modeled them after the brain. Hawkins criticizes the architects of artificial intelligence for ignoring the greatest intelligence on the planet - the human brain. Hawkins basic premise is that the purpose of the neocortex is to predict. The connections between the sensory organs and cortex and likewise between brain and end organs such as muscles, are packed with feedback loops which allow for better prediction. The senses supply input, that input is immediatel compared with stored information in the brain. Based upon the input and the stored data the brain predicts what to expect next. An excellent book.