Books on Bodies and Brains

Read FeedStaff Picks

Books on Bodies and Brains

Medical books for the average Joe

One of our first Read Feed customers asked for books about how the human body works, especially the brain. Try these if you liked entertaining science books like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot or Brain on Fire by Susannah Callahan.  

The Answer to the Riddle is Me: a Memoir of Amnesia by David Stuart MacLean
In 2002, MacLean found himself in India with no memory and no identification. After being diagnosed with amnesia caused by malaria medication, piecing together his memory and sanity is slow going. MacLean's storytelling is absurd, humorous, and meticulously researched. I first heard about MacLean in 2010 when he spoke to This American Life

The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity by Norman Doidge 
This is the follow up to The Brain that Changes Itself, in which Doidge describes neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to change in response to mental experience. In his newest book, Doidge describes how neuroplasticity can be used to heal brain damage. Doidge describes miraculous recoveries as well as how to use stimuli to prevent dementia.

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach
Mary Roach is my go-to for a quick nonfiction read. Roach keeps science light and engaging. Gulp is her newest, but I also recommend Bonk: the Curious Coupling of Science and Sex. With its description of getting it on in an MRI and early scientists examining live sex, it’s funny and educational.

Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind by David Linden
Linden explores how our sense of touch and emotion are linked. Our tactile experiences shape our decision making, health, and thoughts in unexpected ways. As the publisher description cleverly states: "Linden offers an entertaining and enlightening answer to how we feel in every sense of the word."

Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
A long time neurologist, Sacks examines the experiences of his patients and himself throughout his career. He looks at different types of hallucinations (natural and drug induced, visual and auditory) and views hallucinations as part of the human experience rather than a sign of insanity.