To better understand our place in the world, check out these groundbreaking books.
Science is often counterintuitive. When we become habituated to our environment our frame of reference reflects the minds of those around us and the geography we live within. Good science doesn’t lean on anecdote; it constantly pushes us to think and act better. The following books push boundaries by confronting common wisdom and updating our collective knowledge through a combination of research, integrity, curiosity, and passion.
1.The Age of Wonder by Richard HolmesBuy it from Amazon
Starting with a history book might seem odd, but without a firm understanding of how germ theory, disease specificity, and the placebo response—among other important breakthroughs—came to be, you won’t be grounded in what we now consider basic knowledge. British biographer Richard Holmes does justice to the evolution of eighteenth and nineteenth century science.
“We need the three things that a scientific culture can sustain: the sense of individual wonder, the power of hope, and the vivid but questing belief in a future for the globe.”
2.Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert SapolskyBuy it from Amazon
If you want to know why humans behave how we do, start with American neuroendocrinologist Robert Sapolsky’s tour de force. Having spent time studying baboons in Kenya, here he trains his gaze on the peculiar, outlandish, and even mundane aspects of humans, traversing neuroscience, psychology, sociology, and anthropology to better comprehend what makes us us.
“We are constantly being shaped by seemingly irrelevant stimuli, subliminal information, and internal forces we don’t know a thing about.”
3.The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der KolkBuy it from Amazon
Dutch psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk began studying post-traumatic stress in the seventies. His masterful work stretches across decades of research in an attempt to piece together a clinical and heartfelt approach to trauma. His understanding of the biology and physicality of his discipline is unmatched.
“We have learned that trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain, and body. This imprint has ongoing consequences for how the human organism manages to survive in the present.”