The best books that will ignite your own thoughts about the development of the human mind

Simon Clark Author Of Vampyrrhic
By Simon Clark

Who am I?

My father, a history teacher, often pointed out battlefields and scenes of historical importance when I was a child: so an ordinary-looking countryside became the place where knights in armor clashed, or where Viking longboats glided along a river. I grew up habitually overlying vivid scenes from the past on modern landscapes, all of which inspired me to write novels, including The Night of the Triffids, Blood Crazy, and Darkness Demands. Much of my fiction reflects my interest in the evolution of the human mind and how our minds are molded by the world we live in, hence my choice of the five books that I do wholeheartedly recommend for the eager adventurer in thought.


I wrote...

Vampyrrhic

By Simon Clark,

Book cover of Vampyrrhic

What is my book about?

David Leppington has returned to the town of his birth to investigate the possibility of a job as a GP, and also to learn more of its history. Bearing the same name as the town, the Leppington family used to be prominent members of the community. But the clan has dwindled to a sole uncle who is more loner than town leader. In this small, isolated town, people are affected by a horrendous condition. It’s Quiet. Unassuming. A forgotten backwater. Yet beneath Leppington’s streets terrifying creatures stir.

The books I picked & why

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The Hero with a Thousand Faces

By Joseph Campbell,

Book cover of The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Why this book?

Remarkably similar myths recur throughout the world: the ordinary person who becomes a killer of giants, or the many legends of The Flood. Many scholars in the nineteenth century believed the first versions of these myths originated in a now lost ancient civilization, perhaps Lemuria or Atlantis. Campbell’s book examines elements that are common to many legends and concludes that societies independently develop similar stories that reflect our life journeys. We are unique, yet the pattern imprinted on our life is, so often, one we share with every other human being.


The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

By Julian Jaynes,

Book cover of The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

Why this book?

Jaynes controversially suggested that humans were suddenly gripped by a radical transformation of the psyche in the Mediterranean-area Bronze Age, four thousand years ago, when our ancestors spontaneously experienced a kind of software upgrade inside their heads, resulting in them acquiring a new mechanism that operated their minds. This collective mind-storm resulted, some claim, in the collapse of many Bronze Age civilizations. Before this dramatic revolution of the psyche, humans possessed (according to Jaynes) the “double brain of bicameralism” – this meant that ancient humans, in their bicameral phase, had a fundamentally different mental state to that of people today. Essentially, one half of the brain told the other half what to do. Back then, bicameral people heard their thoughts in the form of auditory hallucination. Is Jayne’s theory plausible? If he is right, what happens if humanity experiences another collective upgrade of the mind? What will be the consequences? Will we become kinder and wiser men and women? Or will our own civilization collapse?


Problems of the Future and Essays

By Samuel Laing,

Book cover of Problems of the Future and Essays

Why this book?

Published 1893, Laing considers all kinds of searching questions relating to astronomy, geology, spiritualism, poetry, taxation, finance, and much more. Clearly a possessor of a powerful intelligence, Laing endeavors to make sense of the universe and human life with the limited information he had at his disposal, compared to what we know today. How does the sun burn, he asks? Is it made from coal? A notion he dismisses with rational precision. Later, he considers the arms race from his nineteenth century viewpoint and uncannily predicts a “Great War” that will engulf most of Europe, with “Constantinople” being the likely catalyst of “the blood-rain deluges of the greatest war the world has ever seen”.


Oxford Companion to World Mythology

By David Leeming,

Book cover of Oxford Companion to World Mythology

Why this book?

Writers need to feed their minds. What better way than by reading myths from around the world, about flying serpents, the search for a golden fleece, talking turtles and much, much more. Myths and legends are rich depositories of human experience, fears and ambitions – many of the myths undoubtedly date back to the epoch when we first shaped sounds into words and began telling each other stories carved from fundamental truths. This book is a treasure house of myth from famous major ancient cities to isolated settlements where a few dozen men and women led their own lives. This book is a useful pitstop for writers of fiction to refuel their imaginations.


The Soul of the Ape & My Friends the Baboons

By Eugene Marais,

Book cover of The Soul of the Ape & My Friends the Baboons

Why this book?

Early in the twentieth century, Marais studied a troop of baboons, studying their behavior, gaining insights into how this primate thinks, and, moreover, drawing conclusions about the development of the human psyche. Marais believed that the human unconscious mind, which he called “the subliminal soul” and which still “shapes our thoughts and actions”, is the ancient animal mentality, submerged beneath the evolution of the conscious mind. Therefore, he postulates, the hereditary mind that belonged to our pre-human ancestors is very much alive and well within us.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in myth, Constantinople, and psychoanalysis?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about myth, Constantinople, and psychoanalysis.

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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