100 books like The Battle for Your Brain

By Nita A. Farahany,

Here are 100 books that The Battle for Your Brain fans have personally recommended if you like The Battle for Your Brain. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Idea of the Brain: The Past and Future of Neuroscience

Sally Adee Author Of We Are Electric: Inside the 200-Year Hunt for Our Body's Bioelectric Code, and What the Future Holds

From my list on the history and future of bioelectricity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a science and technology journalist who has reported on neurotech and bioelectricity for over 15 years, for publications including New Scientist, IEEE Spectrum and Quartz. After a formative experience in a DARPA brain-stimulation experiment, I began to dig into the history and science of bioelectricity, trying to understand both the science at the level of membrane biophysics, and the history and psychology of how biology lost custody of electricity. My resulting book is an effort to create a repository of the real, rigorous studies that have advanced our understanding of this fascinating science at an accelerating rate in the past 20 to 40 years - and what the new science means about the future.

Sally's book list on the history and future of bioelectricity

Sally Adee Why did Sally love this book?

One of the most common category errors in neuroscience is the conflation of brains with computers.

Matthew Cobb, who is both a scientist and a historian of science provides a breathtaking and sweeping history of our understanding of the brain - and how it always seems to be epitomised by humanity’s most impressive engineering achievements.

So in the 19th century, the nervous system was described as a telegraph; in the 20th and 21st century, it became a computer.

Cobb shows how these evolving metaphors helped advance neuroscience, but also how overindexing on that computer metaphor is beginning to seriously limit our ability to grasp what the brain really is.

By Matthew Cobb,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Idea of the Brain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the 2020 Baillie Gifford Prize

A New Statesman Book of the Year

This is the story of our quest to understand the most mysterious object in the universe: the human brain.

Today we tend to picture it as a computer. Earlier scientists thought about it in their own technological terms: as a telephone switchboard, or a clock, or all manner of fantastic mechanical or hydraulic devices. Could the right metaphor unlock the its deepest secrets once and for all?

Galloping through centuries of wild speculation and ingenious, sometimes macabre anatomical investigations, scientist and historian Matthew Cobb reveals how…


Book cover of Shocking Frogs: Galvani, Volta, and the Electric Origins of Neuroscience

Sally Adee Author Of We Are Electric: Inside the 200-Year Hunt for Our Body's Bioelectric Code, and What the Future Holds

From my list on the history and future of bioelectricity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a science and technology journalist who has reported on neurotech and bioelectricity for over 15 years, for publications including New Scientist, IEEE Spectrum and Quartz. After a formative experience in a DARPA brain-stimulation experiment, I began to dig into the history and science of bioelectricity, trying to understand both the science at the level of membrane biophysics, and the history and psychology of how biology lost custody of electricity. My resulting book is an effort to create a repository of the real, rigorous studies that have advanced our understanding of this fascinating science at an accelerating rate in the past 20 to 40 years - and what the new science means about the future.

Sally's book list on the history and future of bioelectricity

Sally Adee Why did Sally love this book?

Luigi Galvani found the first evidence that the signals between the brain and the body are electric at the end of the 18th century in Italy.

But his discovery was almost immediately overshadowed by the much more immediately useful invention of the battery. After this, the very idea of bioelectricity fell into disrepute along with Galvani’s reputation.

Neurophysiologist Marco Piccolino and historian of science Marco Bresadola dig into the original controversy over animal electricity and detail how this schism would shape the next 200 years of neuroscience and electrophysiology.

The authors draw on deep-cut archival source material to conclusively restore the unfairly tarnished reputation of Galvani.

This is not a book for people with a mild interest, but will nourish those with an obsessive interest in every detail around the controversy. 

By Marco Piccolino, Marco Bresadola,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shocking Frogs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"... and still we could never suppose that fortune were to be so friendly to us, such as to allow us to be perhaps the first in handling, as it were, the electricity concealed in nerves, in extracting it from nerves, and, in some way, in putting it under everyone's eyes."

With these words, Luigi Galvani announced to the world in 1791 his discovery that nervous conduction and muscle excitation are electrical phenomena. The result of more than years of intense experimental work, Galvani's milestone achievement concluded a thousand-year scientific search, in a field long dominated by the antiquated beliefs…


Book cover of Shocking Bodies: Life, Death and Electricity in Victorian England

Sally Adee Author Of We Are Electric: Inside the 200-Year Hunt for Our Body's Bioelectric Code, and What the Future Holds

From my list on the history and future of bioelectricity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a science and technology journalist who has reported on neurotech and bioelectricity for over 15 years, for publications including New Scientist, IEEE Spectrum and Quartz. After a formative experience in a DARPA brain-stimulation experiment, I began to dig into the history and science of bioelectricity, trying to understand both the science at the level of membrane biophysics, and the history and psychology of how biology lost custody of electricity. My resulting book is an effort to create a repository of the real, rigorous studies that have advanced our understanding of this fascinating science at an accelerating rate in the past 20 to 40 years - and what the new science means about the future.

Sally's book list on the history and future of bioelectricity

Sally Adee Why did Sally love this book?

Gruesome experiments extended Luigi Galvani’s early work with frog cadavers into human ones.

Victorian-era scientists shocked the bodies of executed prisoners, or sold improbably electrical cures, all in the hopes of finding the answers to questions about the boundary between life and death.

Iwan Rhys Morus chooses four case studies that explain how science got to grips with electricity and its effects on the human body, and what the intersection implied about both.

The book provides lasting insights into why electric medicine is still widely associated with pseudoscience today.

By Iwan Rhys Morus,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shocking Bodies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For the Victorians, electricity was the science of spectacle and of wonder. It provided them with new ways of probing the nature of reality and understanding themselves. Luigi Galvani's discovery of 'animal electricity' at the end of the eighteenth century opened up a whole new world of possibilities, in which electricity could cure sickness, restore sexual potency and even raise the dead. In Shocking Bodies, Iwan Rhys Morus explores how the Victorians thought about electricity, and how they tried to use its intimate and corporeal force to answer fundamental questions about life and death. Some even believed that electricity was…


Book cover of The Spark of Life: Electricity in the Human Body

Sally Adee Author Of We Are Electric: Inside the 200-Year Hunt for Our Body's Bioelectric Code, and What the Future Holds

From my list on the history and future of bioelectricity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a science and technology journalist who has reported on neurotech and bioelectricity for over 15 years, for publications including New Scientist, IEEE Spectrum and Quartz. After a formative experience in a DARPA brain-stimulation experiment, I began to dig into the history and science of bioelectricity, trying to understand both the science at the level of membrane biophysics, and the history and psychology of how biology lost custody of electricity. My resulting book is an effort to create a repository of the real, rigorous studies that have advanced our understanding of this fascinating science at an accelerating rate in the past 20 to 40 years - and what the new science means about the future.

Sally's book list on the history and future of bioelectricity

Sally Adee Why did Sally love this book?

This book tells the story of how bioelectricity was finally accepted in modern neuroscience, how it interacts with biochemical elements of the nervous signal, and how its manipulation led to great medica and scientific advances in the late 20th century.

The author knew several of the leading figures who made these discoveries and provides personal anecdotes about them, as well as illuminating episodes from the history of neuroscience. 

By Frances Ashcroft,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Spark of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What happens during a heart attack? Can someone really die of fright? What is death, anyway? How does electroshock treatment affect the brain? What is consciousness? The answers to these questions lie in the electrical signals constantly traveling through our bodies, driving our thoughts, our movements, and even the beating of our hearts.

The history of how scientists discovered the role of electricity in the human body is a colorful one, filled with extraordinary personalities, fierce debates, and brilliant experiments. Moreover, present-day research on electricity and ion channels has created one of the most exciting fields in science, shedding light…


Book cover of A Tapestry of Values: An Introduction to Values in Science

Angela Potochnik Author Of Idealization and the Aims of Science

From my list on exploring strange features of science.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a philosopher before I knew what philosophers were: asking questions to challenge the starting points for conversations. My biggest pet peeve has always been people who were sure they entirely understood something. While scientists conduct science to help learn about the world, philosophers of science like me study science to try to figure out how it works, why (and when) it’s successful, and how it relates to human concerns and society. Humans ultimately invent science, and I think it’s fascinating to consider how its features relate to our interests and foibles and how it’s so successful at producing knowledge and practical abilities. 

Angela's book list on exploring strange features of science

Angela Potochnik Why did Angela love this book?

“Science doesn’t care what you believe” has become a slogan meant to point out that science is objective. Yet science is influenced by social and cultural values—by what we believe and what we think is important—in many ways.

This approachable book outlines how values can influence science, describing when that influence is okay and when it’s not. 

By Kevin C. Elliott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Tapestry of Values as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The role of values in scientific research has become an important topic of discussion in both scholarly and popular debates. Pundits across the political spectrum worry that research on topics like climate change, evolutionary theory, vaccine safety, and genetically modified foods has become overly politicized. At the same time, it is clear that values play an important role in science by limiting unethical forms of research and by deciding what areas of research have the greatest relevance for society. Deciding how to distinguish legitimate and illegitimate influences of values in scientific research is a matter of vital importance.
Recently, philosophers…


Book cover of What Have We Done: The Moral Injury of Our Longest Wars

E.M. Liddick Author Of All the Memories That Remain: War, Alzheimer's, and the Search for a Way Home

From my list on moral injury and the dark night of the soul.

Why am I passionate about this?

Moral injury, post-traumatic stress, and the dark night of the soul are human conditions I understand well. See, over the course of a lengthy military career, I deployed overseas many times, including to Afghanistan. In my last two deployments, I served as the legal advisor to a joint special operations task force. In this role, I advised on more than 500 “strikes”: air attacks intended to kill humans. When I returned from Afghanistan in 2018, I noticed a change in me, and I’ve been living with moral injury and post-traumatic stress since. This list helped me, particularly with the lesser-known “moral injury,” and I sincerely hope it helps you too.

E.M.'s book list on moral injury and the dark night of the soul

E.M. Liddick Why did E.M. love this book?

Oftentimes, we focus on the injured individual, forgetting that the injuries extend to—and harm—others in our immediate orbit: spouses, children, family, and friends. I appreciated, therefore, that Wood, in detailing moral injuries to our servicemembers, simultaneously exposes the reader to the soul wound-adjacent injuries to our loved ones, reminding us of the aphorism, “hurt people hurt people.” 

My list contains a theme, of course: that the responsibility for helping those living with moral injury and post-traumatic stress heal lies beyond the individual, requires the community. So I welcomed Wood’s willingness to cite the “prefab patriotism,” to borrow Barbara Ehrenreich’s words, of American civilians and their “thank you for your service” platitudes as also worthy of blame. Healing, as Wood rightfully suggests, requires listening without judgment.

By David Wood,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Have We Done as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Most Americans are now familiar with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and its prevalence among troops. In this groundbreaking new book, David Wood examines the far more pervasive yet less understood experience of those we send to war: moral injury, the violation of our fundamental values of right and wrong that so often occurs in the impossible moral dilemmas of modern conflict. Featuring portraits of combat veterans and leading mental health researchers, along with Wood's personal observations of war and the young Americans deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, WHAT HAVE WE DONE offers an unflinching look at war and those…


Book cover of God is Not Here: A Soldier's Struggle with Torture, Trauma, and the Moral Injuries of War

E.M. Liddick Author Of All the Memories That Remain: War, Alzheimer's, and the Search for a Way Home

From my list on moral injury and the dark night of the soul.

Why am I passionate about this?

Moral injury, post-traumatic stress, and the dark night of the soul are human conditions I understand well. See, over the course of a lengthy military career, I deployed overseas many times, including to Afghanistan. In my last two deployments, I served as the legal advisor to a joint special operations task force. In this role, I advised on more than 500 “strikes”: air attacks intended to kill humans. When I returned from Afghanistan in 2018, I noticed a change in me, and I’ve been living with moral injury and post-traumatic stress since. This list helped me, particularly with the lesser-known “moral injury,” and I sincerely hope it helps you too.

E.M.'s book list on moral injury and the dark night of the soul

E.M. Liddick Why did E.M. love this book?

A provocative title combines with an introspective account of one soldier’s slow descent into madness to provide an edgy read. I enjoyed Edmonds’ choice of a unique narrative device, jumping backward and forward in his story, to introduce the impossible questions with equally hard answers he faced advising an Iraqi official involved in interrogation—and Edmonds’ ensuing breakdown.

The lion’s share of war literature concerning moral injury and post-traumatic stress comes from “trigger pullers.” But in God is Not Here, we see how war spares no one. And, in exposing war’s reach and how trauma can affect anyone, I believe Edmonds validates—rightfully so—those who might otherwise feel their trauma doesn’t “measure up” to those who experienced “real” trauma.

By Bill Russell Edmonds,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked God is Not Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In May of 2005, the U.S. government finally acknowledged that the invasion of Iraq had spawned an insurgency. With that admission, training the Iraqi Forces suddenly became a strategic priority. Lt. Col. Bill Edmonds, then a Special Forces captain, was in the first group of "official" military advisors. He arrived in Mosul in the wake of Abu Ghraib, at the height of the insurgency, and in the midst of America's rapidly failing war strategy.

Edmonds' job was to advise an Iraqi intelligence officer-to assist and temper his interrogations-but not give orders. But he wanted to be more than a wallflower,…


Book cover of Consumed: The Need for Collective Change: Colonialism, Climate Change, and Consumerism

Holly Trantham Author Of Beyond Getting By: The Financial Diet's Guide to Abundant and Intentional Living

From my list on rethinking your relationship with work and money.

Why am I passionate about this?

At The Financial Diet, I’ve written and produced videos about money, productivity, and work/life balance for the better part of a decade. I’ve come to the conclusion that most of our commonly held beliefs about money and work are incorrect: your job shouldn’t be your main purpose, and money shouldn’t be the end goal in and of itself. I’ve also been a longtime nonfiction reader, and I lead a monthly book club for our Patreon members. This list is composed of my favorite selections from those meetings (a few of which I’d read previously), and I hope they invite you to question your own relationship with work and money!

Holly's book list on rethinking your relationship with work and money

Holly Trantham Why did Holly love this book?

I loved this no-nonsense take on consumer culture. Listen, I love to shop. I love an outfit. But Aja Barber’s writing was a necessary wake-up call when it came to my spending habits—what’s driving them and how they are impacting the planet.

It’s easy to think the world’s environmental and social issues driven by consumerism can’t be fixed with individual choice, so why bother changing? While that’s true on some level, I feel spiritually (and financially) lighter when I am buying less and caring better for what I already own.

This book helped me finally break some shopping habits I wasn’t proud of and gave me a framework to continue questioning which of my habits are driven by our consumer culture rather than my own genuine desires. 

By Aja Barber,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Consumed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

***

'This powerful, speaking-truth-to-power book is an essential read for everybody who wants to stop feeling clueless and helpless about the impacts of cosumerism, and start doing their part to help create a more sustainable world' - Layla Saad

'A critique on what we buy, how it's made and the systems behind it that make an unfair and broken cycle' - New York Times

'The book is a blueprint for anyone who wants to do better' - VOGUE

'SUCH integrity. Aja is no bullsh*t.' - Florence Given

'Consumed takes us through the hideously complex topic of fashion and sustainability, from…


Book cover of Give Me My Father's Body: The Life of Minik, the New York Eskimo

Karen Oslund Author Of Iceland Imagined: Nature, Culture, and Storytelling in the North Atlantic

From my list on why anyone would want to freeze in the Arctic.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Los Angeles, California, which is frequently imagined as well as experienced. As a child, we lived by the beach and in the foothills of Angeles National Forest. The leaps of faith you make in this landscape were always clear: earthquakes, wildfires, and mudslides occur regularly. The question asked often about the Arctic: “why on earth do people live there?” applies also to California: life in beautiful landscapes and seascapes is risky. Then, I made my first trip to Iceland alone in 1995, and have now been to Iceland ten times, Greenland twice, and Nayan Mar, above the Russian Arctic Circle, each time with fascination.

Karen's book list on why anyone would want to freeze in the Arctic

Karen Oslund Why did Karen love this book?

What would you do if you were taken by force from your home as a child and placed in a museum for strangers to look at you and touch you? And if two-thirds of the adults with you died almost immediately from this treatment? And if the man who did this to you was acclaimed as a hero?

This is the story of a boy from the Arctic lost in New York City, and his struggle to return home. 

By Kenn Harper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Give Me My Father's Body as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A compelling biography of the Eskimo boy who was brought back to the U.S. by explorer Robert Peary recreates the twelve agonizing years little Minik spent living as an alien in New York City, an experience that culminates with the discovery that his father's body is on display at the Museum of Natural History. 25,000 first printing. $25,000 ad/promo. BOMC.


Book cover of Eve: The Disobedient Future of Birth

Sydney Calkin Author Of Abortion Pills Go Global: Reproductive Freedom across Borders

From my list on abortion and reproductive rights.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a feminist academic and activist, I am personally committed to the cause of reproductive freedom. Professionally, I've spent the past seven years carrying out research on abortion pills and their travels around the globe. This research involved more than eighty interviews with activists and doctors across the world, as well as analysis of many different text sources. My work has also taken me into activist spaces across Europe, as a volunteer with the Abortion Support Network. Although I entered the topic of reproductive rights through my interest in abortion, reading widely in the field has led me to pursue research interests in reproductive and biomedical technologies in other areas of sexual and reproductive health. 

Sydney's book list on abortion and reproductive rights

Sydney Calkin Why did Sydney love this book?

Eve tackles the topic of ectogenesis – gestation outside the womb. From literature to bioethics to cutting-edge medical research, the book examines this complex topic in creative ways.

Its chapter on abortion politics is particularly insightful because it considers how technology that allows for gestation in artificial wombs might lead to restrictions in abortion laws.

Horn’s writing blends sociological, legal, and bioethical analysis together with personal reflections on her own experience of pregnancy.

Not only is this one of the best books I’ve read on reproductive politics, but it’s one of the best books on the experience of being pregnant because it beautifully reflects on the complex social meanings of pregnancy and its physical embodiment. Eve is written in a highly accessible style, so readers without prior knowledge of the topic will find the narrative compelling.

By Claire Horn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Eve as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SELECTED AS A NEW SCIENTIST 'BOOKS TO EXPAND YOUR MIND'

'THOUGHTFUL ... EXAMINES THE BOUNDARIES OF MOTHERHOOD THROUGH AN UNUSUAL LENS: ARTIFICIAL WOMBS. ... A SKILLED WRITER WITH A CAREFUL GRASP OF HER SUBJECT AND ITS FASCINATING HISTORY' Angela Saini, Telegraph

'AN ENGROSSING INSIGHT INTO THE FUTURE OF BIRTH THROUGH THE LENSES OF THE MOST PRESSING WOMEN'S HEALTH ISSUES OF OUR ERA' New Statesman

Throughout human history, every single one of us has been born from a person. So far. But that is about to change.

Scientific research is on the cusp of being able to grow babies outside human…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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