Read in Ned : News from your library

Amy Carrill , Peak to Peak

The excellent staff at the library are continually adding new non-fiction books to the shelves. Ranging far and wide, the subjects of these books range the gamut of inquiry, interest, and exploration. Peruse the new non-fiction shelves, even for a moment, and you will undoubtedly discover a volume that captures your attention. You will find yourself checking it out, taking it home, and delving straight into the happy heart of it.

A handful of the current new books deal with the mind and brain, or with the greater and even more complex realm of human consciousness. Each of these books is a terrific read.

In The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind, Michio Kaku explores the abilities of the brain as a progression of possibilities. He begins by explaining the current state of neuroscience. He then discusses the actual existence of such seeming fictions as telepathy, telekinesis, mind control, and memory recording. In conclusion he proposes his vision of a future in which a true mastery of neuroscience assists in creating a level of consciousness not confined to the body. Although these concepts may seem complex, Kaku discusses them in a clear and engaging manner that is accessible to anyone.

Joseph Goldstein has spent more than forty years exploring the realms of consciousness, mindfulness, and meditation. He has written many books on those subjects, but his most recent book, Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening, is his magnum opus. It is a wonderfully comprehensive work. He discusses mindfulness in depth, and also explores the highly beneficial changes that it produces in both mind and behavior. (Buddha’s Brain, by Rick Hanson, is a useful companion piece, detailing those changes from a neuroscience perspective.)

Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts, by Stanislas Dehaene, investigates the inextricable links between brain and consciousness. It takes as its subject matter deceptively simple questions. How does the physical brain create consciousness? How is it possible that the electrical firings of neurons within a mass of biological matter create a self-aware being? These are the kind of questions, long confined to the realm of philosophy, that Dehaene addresses from a scientific standpoint.

Because this is Colorado, where nearly everyone adores animals, pets or otherwise, the last selection concerns animal behavior and, dare it be said, animal psychology. In 2009 Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus at the University of Colorado, began writing columns about animal emotions for the magazine Psychology Today. His latest book, Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed, gathers many of those columns into one volume. Bekoff does an excellent job of explaining animal behavior in clearly succinct terms, while avoiding the common trap of anthropomorphizing his subjects.

If books about mind and consciousness don’t particularly appeal to you, the shelves of new non-fiction contain volumes focusing on countless other topics. Whether you prefer history, cooking, adventure, biography, crime, politics, etc., a new book at the library awaits you.