The Alzheimer’s Association recommends we try to stay “mentally alive” in order to stave off Alzheimer’s later in life. Tackling puzzles, exercising, continuing education, reading, and just being curious seem to have an effect on the brain and strengthen brain-cell connection. We live in a lucky age, where we have easy access to books that will help us in our quest to stay “mentally alive” and never stop learning. Even better, there are many books out there that are great entertainment, and cover a variety of interesting topics, rather than presenting facts in a textbook-like fashion.
Here are six of my and the Libro team’s favorite books to give your brain a boost, and learn some interesting facts along the way.
by Nicholas Carr
It’s no great insight that people are using the Internet more and more. But what effect does that have on us? In The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr examines trends among Internet usage, the human brain, and our ever-changing culture. As he notes, “the Net delivers precisely the kind of sensory and cognitive stimuli—repetitive, intensive, interactive, addictive—that have been shown to result in strong and rapid alterations in brain circuits and functions.”
by Carol Dweck
Carol Dweck, a professor of Psychology at Stanford University, compiles her years of research on personality and social development into Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. She breaks people down into having one of two mindsets: fixed and growth. Those with a fixed mindset believe that innate ability is the number one factor in success, whereas those with a growth mindset believe that hard work and diligence matters more. She presents surprising stories and data to support her claim that those with growth mindset are more likely to succeed and succumb to less stress than those with a fixed mindset.
by Dan Ariely
We don’t always make the best decisions. A lot of emotion, bias, and culture affect our choices. While we may seem to use a lot of logic, we behave irrationally—but predictably so. In Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions, Dan Ariely uses his experience in the field of behavioral economics to examine why we do what we do, and to find patterns among the seemingly random sets of human behavior. His goal for the book, as he states, “is to help you fundamentally rethink what makes you and the people around you tick . . . by presenting a wide range of scientific experiments, findings, and anecdotes that are in many cases quite amusing.”
by John Medina
The human brain is one of the most extraordinary pieces of matter in the universe. Complex and powerful, brain scientists have just begun to fully understand it. Here, John Medina, a molecular biologist and bioengineer, presents his rules for making the most of our brains. From the illusion of multitasking to the energizing effects of naps to the importance of exercise, Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School shows effective ways to improve learning, business, and mental health.
by Kelly McGonigal
In The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It, psychologist Kelly McGonigal doesn’t just outline what willpower is and it’s importance, but provides guidance in harnessing willpower to meet your goals and change your life. Though she posits that willpower is a result of both the mind and body, people can improve their willpower via mindfulness and good health. Even simple breathing exercises can go a long way to garner more willpower.
by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
After the success of Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics, Levitt and Dubner are back with another groundbreaking book, Think Like a Freak, this time showing readers how to put their insights to practical use. As always, leave preconceived notions behind, and prepare to be amazed. Then, apply your new skills and out-of-the-box thinking to your own life, because as they put it, “the modern world demands that we all think a bit more productively, more creatively, more rationally; that we think from a different angle, with a different set of muscles, with a different set of expectations; that we think with neither fear nor favor, with neither blind optimism nor sour skepticism. That we think—ahem—like a freak.”
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