Your New Reading List: Paul Thagard’s Picks

Paul Thagard, author of The Brain and the Meaning of Life, discovered some new books this summer that he wants to share with you.  His recommendations cover a wide range of genres and emotions, from adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat to a poignant personal memoir to the tension that accompanies a ground-breaking discovery.  Interested? Read what Paul says about these books:

“David Grann, The Lost City of Z. This is non-fiction, but perfect for airplanes or beaches, as it reads like a thriller. The book weaves together the biographical story of an Amazon explorer and the autobiographical story of the author’s investigation of him. It’s totally absorbing.”

“Roger Rosenblatt, Making Toast. This book is the moving and eloquent story of the author’s first year after the sudden death of his 38-year old daughter. He and his wife move in with their son-in-law and young  grandchildren. This book is an excellent grief memoir from the unusual perspective of a parent rather than a spouse.”

“Elliott S. Valenstein, The War of the Soups and the Sparks. A retired neuropsychologist tells the fascinating story of the discovery of neurotransmitters and the controversy over how new nerves communicate with each other: chemically (soups) or electrically (sparks). This intriguing history also illuminates the nature of scientific research.”

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  1. “The Lost City of Z ” thrills the heart and mind. Its tales of grotesque peril and unbending duty leave one feeling lucky to have to, at worst, navigate cluttered cubicles and 10-hour workdays, yet feeling the lesser, too, for leading such a pedestrian life.

    There is something about Fawcett’s spirit and self-assurance that captivates many who hear his story, Grann included. As readers, we are left wondering if that eternal explorer’s ethos – the desire to climb the mountain “because it’s there” – is something intrinsically human or if, ultimately, exploration is a cultural construct.