As the end of the year approaches, many of us are probably making mental checklists of things we would like to accomplish for next year. If reading is on your list, then why not add some neuroscience-related books to that list.
Here are my 3 top picks, in no particular order:
1. The Reason I Jump, Naoki Higashida
The Reason I Jump is a memoir of a 13-year-old boy who has Non-Verbal Autism. The book was originally published in Japan in 2007 and was later translated by David Mitchell into English in 2013. This book is a non-fiction in which Naoki demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, and responds in ways few of us can understand or imagine. The book is written in a FAQ method, in which each chapter title is a question, and each chapter is the answer.
This book is by far one of the easiest reads about a complex topic such as autism. It gave me a basic understanding of what goes through the mind of someone with autism. It allowed me to put myself in his shoes and see his view of the world. This is not to say that the book is representative of every individual with autism, however, it is a great way to touch the surface and start learning about autism and what it is like to live with it.
His story has recently been adapted into a film. Exploring the experience of non-verbal autistic individuals from around the world. The video can be found here.
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Oliver Sacks
The 1985 book written by neurologist Oliver Sacks recounts 24 case histories of his patients over the years. Sacks’ discusses patients diagnosed with various neurological disorders primarily associated with damage to the right hemisphere of the brain such as Agnosia, Amnesia, Parkinson’s, Tourette’s, and Autism. What keeps you interested in the book is the personal detail in which Sack’s tells his stories, he does not only recount them as cases but each 24 as their own detailed little stories.
I first heard of the book when applying to university, it was one every “book to read for medical school” list I could find. However, I did not start reading it until my final year of university, and thank god I waited. As interesting and inviting as the stories are, to be able to fully digest each case a certain level of science comprehension is required. Throughout the book, Sack uses neurological jargon which can be difficult to understand without researching it or having prior understandings. That said the even without a science background the book does allow us to jump into the curious and amazing cases with Sack’s had the opportunity to work through.
This book is great if you are looking to learn more about neuroscience jargon as it not only gives you medical terminology but explains it in a fun and engaging way through the curious cases of Oliver Sacks and his patients through the years.
3. When Breathe Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
When Breathe Becomes air is an autobiography written by neurosurgeon Dr. Paul Kalanithi. Although not strictly a book about neuroscience, the book delves into Paul’s path to becoming a neurosurgeon who is ultimately diagnosed with stage IV metastatic lung cancer which has spread to his brain. The memoir discusses the parallels of being both a patient and a doctor.
This book was first recommended to me by a friend, and wow, it’s hard to explain how good this read is. I do not think I have ever read a book that was both agonizing and exhilarating at the same time. His story provokes a powerful importance of the moment you are living right now. It is safe to say that most of us live a life planning our future without truly knowing what we will be faced with next or rant about things that have already happened. But amidst all of this, we forget about the present and the moment we a living right now. Paul reflects on his struggles and triumphs in life and how sometimes it is not about looking backward or forwards but about living in the present. A quote that perfectly sums up the book is, “even if I am dying until I am actually dead, I am still living”.
I would definitely recommend this book if you are looking for a more somber and thought-provoking read which is loosely related to neuroscience.
Featured photo source: Pexels, Kaboompics.