Out in the wild world of Booktopia, the wild science book is quite common. Walk around in
tall grass the library and it’ll leap out uninvited at you and you’ll feel obliged to read through its complete 400-page boring jargon because you’ll think it’ll make you smarter.
Another species of science books (slightly less common) is the funny one. These ones tend to be entertaining and interesting, yet lack depth and you end up learning very little to nothing.
Once in a while, though, you get a book that’s both entertaining and informative – the legendary Pokemon of Booktopia (okay, I’ll stop with the Pokemon analogies now).
The Idiot Brain is one of those books. Not only is it outrageously funny, with extremely clever wit inserted here and there (as opposed to fart jokes), it’s also outrageously informative. Like, who knew all this stuff about sleep?? Did you know that scientists don’t actually know why we sleep? It sounds obvious – we sleep because we’re tired, but why do we get tired? And why do we sleep the same amount no matter how tired we are? MAGIC IS WHY.
The book is about the brain and it talk about both the advantages of our brain, and the disadvantages that come with that (and all this stuff about lizard brain, etc. No, not the lizard living inside your brain – that would be weird. But the lizard-brain. The brain that is a lizard. Um. It makes sense if you read it).
The chapters are well set out and follow each other to almost chronologically introduce each sequence. It’s very easy to follow and is so clear and understandable, even for uncultured swines like me.
And you know that feeling after you finish reading a science book? Or a book on “How to something”? And you get that feeling of: “O_O OMG I KNOW SO MUCH!!! MWAHAHAA KNOWLEDGE!!”. Yeah. That’s the feeling you get with this. Even after one chapter, you’re tapping away on your phone, sending all these little titbits of information, then realising that your dodgy explanation could never do it justice, then you’re taking photos of the pages and sending those, then realising that there are more things you need to send and you know what – WHY DON’T YOU JUST GO AND RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO ALL THE PEOPLE OUT THERE.
So basically. Read this book if you want to become smart without having to slog through hundreds of pages on fancy pants neurology. Definitely recommended if you’re looking to break the cycle of YA and fiction.
The brain may be the seat of consciousness and the engine of all human experience, but it’s also messy, fallible, and disorganized. For example, did you know that your memory is egotistical? That conspiracy theories and superstitions are the inevitable effects of a healthy brain? Or that alcohol can actually improve your memory? (Editor’s note: please read the book before testing that last conclusion.)
In Idiot Brain, Dr. Dean Burnett celebrates blind spots, blackouts, insomnia, and all the other downright laughable things our minds do to us, while also exposing the many mistakes we’ve made in our quest to understand how our brains actually work. This is the best kind of popular science—lucid, funny, and whip-smart—from a debut author who will be tickling funny bones and firing neurons for a long time to come.