Spring 2019 Reading List

Here’s a funny thing that happened: shortly after I published my reading picks for fall 2018, the same neighbour who had recommended those books to me dropped off another stack at my door. I’m not sure if he reads this blog, but if he doesn’t it sure was one heck of a coincidence!
In any case, he definitely has picked up on the fact that I have eclectic reading tastes. I get the feeling that his are just as eclectic. Here’s some of the books that he recommended to me that I’ll be reading this spring:
  1. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  2. Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in 15 Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  3. Holding On to Normal by Alana Somerville
  4. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Psst- wanna see which books have previously graced my bookshelves? Click here. Want even more fun reading recommendations? I’ve got some for you here. Don’t forget to find me on Goodreads so we can snoop each other’s bookshelves and dish about our favourites.

Brainy Books that Will Blow Your Mind

You know you’ve reached the epitome of nerdom when you’re at a party and someone asks you about your favourite non-fiction books and you start babbling about the fascinating world of neuroscience. (Just for the record this did not happen to me; it happened to a friend of mine. Cough cough.) It’s essentially the last frontier of the human body: we know less about our brains than any other body part. (Except for maybe the appendix. Has anyone figured that one out yet?)

Don’t take my word for it though- take Michio Kaku’s. His popular neuroscience books take complex scientific concepts and frames them in a way that the rest of us mortals can understand. My favourite, The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance and Empower the Mind answers the more fun questions of the field; for example, do humans really have the capacity to move things with their mind? (You’ll have to read his books for yourself to find the answer.)

For the more ambitious reader, Reading in the Brain: The New Science of How We Read by Stanislas Dahaene chronicles every little nanosecond the brain takes to process the written word. After you read about the effort that it takes for your brain to recognize, understand and memorize letters, you’ll never look at reading the same way again. (Read slowly; this one left me a little cross-eyed.)

After learning about the memory championships (yes, there is such a thing), journalist Joshua Foer dug deeper into the why and how of what we remember and how we can better train our memories using long-forgotten techniques once used to learn entire religious manuscripts. The resulting book is called Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything– part memoir, part history lesson, part how-to book. Even if you’re not a neuroscience nerd like me, you’ll appreciate this one. Some of the techniques from the book that I’ve tried have actually worked really well!

While I certainly haven’t learned how to move things with my mind, master speed reading, or memorize the order of an entire deck of 52 cards, reading these books still gave me a better understanding and a new appreciation of how our efficiently and intricately brains work. But like I said, don’t just take this nerd’s word for it.

Psst- wanna see which books have previously graced my bookshelves? Click here. Want even more fun reading recommendations? I’ve got some for you here. Don’t forget to find me on Goodreads so we can snoop each other’s bookshelves and dish about our favourites.

Best Books of 2018

I posted my picks for 2017 so late this year that I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to share with you some of my favorites books I read in the year 2018.

Fiction
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton is one of the few books of the epic-story-sweeping-across-generations type that actually caught me off-guard with all of its plot twists and turns. It kept me guessing right until the end.

It’s easy to see why We’ll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night by Joel Thomas Hynes won the Governor General’s Award (which is pretty much the prize you want to get if you’re a Canadian author). It was so beautifully written that it got passed around to all of the neighbours in my building. Warning: foul language afoot! (But it feels more colourful than gratuitous.)

I’ve been waiting for Arundhati Roy’s follow-up to The God of Small Things for years now and although The Ministry of Utmost Happiness doesn’t quite compare in my opinion (although really what follow-up does?), it’s worth the read simply to experience the magic gift Roy has with words.

One of my besties has been begging me to read My Brilliant Friend by Italian author Elena Ferrante for pretty much forever, and I was so glad I finally did. The writing is beautiful and intimate; Ferrante has an amazing talent for finding the words to express even the deepest, darkest emotions of a human being. It’s the first in the The Neapolitan Cycle and I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest.

Arcadia by Iain Pears is one of those novels that’s hard to define: it takes its readers across time and space in a way that’s comparable to Cloud Atlas, then takes the best parts of The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland and The Lord of the Rings and kind of mushes them all together into this suspenseful, epic tale. (A little psycho-mathematics helps too!)

Non-Fiction
Your life is possible pretty much because of this woman, so you owe it to her memory to read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. I’m not even kidding. This book will change the way you think about modern medicine.

Logomaniacs unite! Simon Winchester’s The Professor and the Madman: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary is fascinating not only because of the people behind the authoritative dictionary; it’s the sheer breadth and scope of the task and how they pulled it off that amazed me the most.

What were some of your favorite books that you read in the past year? Did anything on my list show up on yours? Share your recommendations with me by commenting below or by emailing keepingbusyb@gmail.com