Not sure which one I will crack into first – but these 5 are on my summer reading list.
Einstein. Beethoven. Picasso. Jobs. The word genius evokes these iconic figures, whose cultural contributions have irreversibly shaped society.
Yet Beethoven could not multiply. Picasso couldn’t pass a 4th grade math test. And Jobs left high school with a 2.65 GPA.What does this say about our metrics for measuring success and achievement today? Why do we teach children to behave and play by the rules, when the transformative geniuses of Western culture have done just the opposite? And what is genius, really?
Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain – Lisa Feldman Barrett
Have you ever wondered why you have a brain? Let renowned neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett demystify that big gray blob between your ears. In seven short essays (plus a bite-sized story about how brains evolved), this slim, entertaining, and accessible collection reveals mind-expanding lessons from the front lines of neuroscience research. You’ll learn where brains came from, how they’re structured (and why it matters), and how yours works in tandem with other brains to create everything you experience. Along the way, you’ll also learn to dismiss popular myths such as the idea of a “lizard brain” and the alleged battle between thoughts and emotions, or even between nature and nurture, to determine your behavior.
Wiser: The Scientific Roots of Wisdom, Compassion, and What Makes Us Good – Dilip Jeste, Scott LaFee
What exactly does it mean to be “wise?” And is it possible to grow and even accelerate its unfolding?
For over two decades, Dr. Dilip Jeste has led the search for the biological and cognitive roots of wisdom. What’s emerged from his work is that wisdom is a very real and deeply multilayered set of traits.
Across many cultures and centuries, he’s found that wise people are compassionate and empathetic, aware of their gifts and blind spots, open-minded, resolute and calm amid uncertainty, altruistic decision-makers who learn from their experiences, able to see from many perspectives and “altitudes,” and often blessed with a sense of adventure and humor.
When Jennifer Doudna was in sixth grade, she came home one day to find that her dad had left a paperback titled The Double Helix on her bed. She put it aside, thinking it was one of those detective tales she loved. When she read it on a rainy Saturday, she discovered she was right, in a way. As she sped through the pages, she became enthralled by the intense drama behind the competition to discover the code of life. Even though her high school counselor told her girls didn’t become scientists, she decided she would.
Driven by a passion to understand how nature works and to turn discoveries into inventions, she would help to make what the book’s author, James Watson, told her was the most important biological advance since his co-discovery of the structure of DNA. She and her collaborators turned a curiosity of nature into an invention that will transform the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions.
Einstein’s Fridge tells the incredible epic story of the scientists who, over two centuries, harnessed the power of heat and ice and formulated a theory essential to comprehending our universe. Thermodynamics—the branch of physics that deals with energy and entropy—is the least known and yet most consequential of all the sciences. It governs everything from the behavior of living cells to the black hole at the center of our galaxy. Not only that, but thermodynamics explains why we must eat and breathe, how lights turn on, the limits of computing, and how the universe will end.
The brilliant people who decoded its laws came from every branch of the sciences; they were engineers, physicists, chemists, biologists, cosmologists, and mathematicians. From French military engineer and physicist Sadi Carnot to Lord Kelvin, James Joule, Albert Einstein, Emmy Noether, Alan Turing, and Stephen Hawking, author Paul Sen introduces us to all of the players who passed the baton of scientific progress through time and across nations. Incredibly driven and idealistic, these brave pioneers performed groundbreaking work often in the face of torment and tragedy. Their discoveries helped create the modern world and transformed every branch of science, from biology to cosmology.