Top critical review
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Informative but quite academic in style
on 5 July 2008
I read this book as a follow-up to Robert Winston's "The Human Mind" and it's interesting to draw a comparison.
I would suggest that if the prospective reader wants a "pop science" overview of how the Brain works, that they should start with Robert Winston's book. If, after that, you would like to know more, then John Ratey's book is a good follow-up.
Don't be deceived by the friendly title and cover - from a layman's point of view this is in-depth and academic in its style.
Personally I found it pretty hard going as bedtime reading, but I persevered and it was **intellectually** worth the effort. And there's the thing: if you're left-brained you will get a lot from this book - but I suspect those with right-dominated brains will find the text rather unemotional and un-engaging for a topic which is so human.
The other thing that lets this book down is an absence of diagrams - if "a picture paints a thousand words" then the author will almost always go for the loquacious option. Eventualy I found a decent graphic of the brain on New Scientist's website, printed it out and glued it into the front cover. But really I shouldn't have had to do that.
So in summary, this is not a bad book but it needs to work out who its target market is, and brand itself accordingly.