Monday 9 February 2015

It's Monday!

It's Monday which means it's time to plan my reading week.

I read The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge a number of years ago.

In fact my memory of reading this book is very specific and linked to a very strong sensory experience - I read a chapter every Wednesday afternoon whilst my youngest booklet was doing his swimming lessons.

Whenever someone now mentions this book, I am immediately overwhelmed by the smell of chlorine and I feel once again the warm, syrupy humidity of our local indoor pool. It was a lovely bonding time for the two of us & Norman Doidge is now forever connected to this moment of family history.

And, in fact, this experience is a prime example of what he was talking about in his book,

 "We have seen that imagining an act engages the same motor and sensory programs that are 
involved in doing it. We have long viewed our imaginative life with a kind of sacred awe: 
as noble, pure, immaterial, and ethereal, cut off from our material brain. Now we cannot be so sure 
about where to draw the line between them. Everything your “immaterial” mind imagines 
leaves material traces. Each thought alters the physical state of your brain synapses 
at a microscopic level."

 "As we age and plasticity declines, it becomes increasingly difficult for us to change in response 
to the world, even if we want to. We find familiar types of stimulation pleasurable; we seek 
out like-minded individuals to associate with, and research shows we tend to ignore or forget, 
or attempt to discredit, information that does not match our beliefs, or perception of the world, 
because it is very distressing and difficult to think and perceive in unfamiliar ways." 

There was so much for me to love about this book, so you can imagine my delight when I heard late last year that there was a sequel due out. And as you imagine my delight, think about how many synapses have just been triggered & how many different ways our brains have just been altered :-)
The Brain's Way of Healing by Norman Doidge

In The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge described the most important breakthrough in our understanding of the brain in four hundred years: the discovery that the brain can change its own structure and function in response to mental experience—what we call neuroplasticity. His revolutionary new book shows, for the first time, how the amazing process of neuroplastic healing really works. It describes natural, non-invasive avenues into the brain provided by the forms of energy around us—light, sound, vibration, movement—which pass through our senses and our bodies to awaken the brain’s own healing capacities without producing unpleasant side effects. 

Doidge explores cases where patients alleviated years of chronic pain or recovered from debilitating strokes or accidents; children on the autistic spectrum or with learning disorders normalizing; symptoms of multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and cerebral palsy radically improved, and other near-miracle recoveries. And we learn how to vastly reduce the risk of dementia with simple approaches anyone can use.

For centuries it was believed that the brain’s complexity prevented recovery from damage or disease. The Brain’s Way of Healing shows that this very sophistication is the source of a unique kind of healing. 

As he did so lucidly in The Brain That Changes Itself, Doidge uses stories to present cutting-edge science with practical real-world applications, and principles that everyone can apply to improve their brain’s performance and health.

No doubt this will take me quite a few weeks to read, so don't watch for a review too soon!
And I hope we get a few more hot summery days so I can pack this book into my swim bag for when I go to the pool to do my laps.

My light relief read for the week is book 2 of Sulari Gentil's Rowland Sinclair series, A Decline in Prophets.

In 1932, the R.M.S. Aquitania embodies all that is gracious and refined, in a world gripped by crisis and doubt.

Returning home on the luxury liner after months abroad, Rowland Sinclair and his companions dine with a suffragette, 
a Bishop and a retired World Prophet. The Church encounters less orthodox 
religion in the Aquitania's chandeliered ballroom, where men of God rub shoulders 
with mystics in dinner suits.

The elegant atmosphere on board is charged with tension but civility prevails...until people start to die. 
Then things get a bit awkward.

And Rowland Sinclair finds himself unwittingly in the centre of it all.

What will you be reading this week?

This post is part of It's Monday! What Am I Reading?


  1. Wow - some interesting choices there Brona. I'm not a big fan of non-fiction. I had to laugh though at your choice of 'light relief'! Some heavy reading there!


    1. By light relief, I mean easier & quicker to read than my non-fiction pick!! Although the Rowland Sinclair mysteries are what is called 'gentle crime' so nothing too demanding on my sensitive soul either :-)

  2. I just started reading Under The Wide and Starry Sky, by Nancy Horan. It's historical fiction about the love affair between Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Osbourne and it's really good so far. A huge book that will keep me in an enthralled state of reading all week.

    1. Ohh, I've seen this book at work and wondered about it, but I haven't seen any reviews or mentions on blogs...until you. I look forward to the review :-)

  3. Sukarno Gentil's series has been on my want to read list for a while, I hope you enjoy it,

    Shelleyrae @ a Book'd Out

    1. I adored the first one & so far, thoroughly enjoying the second :-)
      I love books set in the 20's and 30's, but this time our gallivanting Aussie bohemians have spent time hanging out with Archie Leach in New York (soon to be know as Cary Grant!) What's not to love!

  4. I started listening to the audio book of The Brain that Changes Itself. It was really fascinating, but I only got a little way through and had to return it to the library. I should borrow it again soon. I've had a number of excellent reads this week- I've read two books over the weekend! Cracking pace for me...

    1. An audio would be a great way to take in both the brain books - I'll keep an eye out for them too.

      As always I look forward to your reviews :-)

  5. Those brain books sound fascinating, but I just can't read nonfiction without falling asleep. The mystery series is more up my alley, thanks for opening me up to something new.

    1. They're a great series - Aussie author, gentle crime, 1930's Sydney, well written, easy to read, likeable characters - ticks all my boxes :-)

  6. The brain and the human body are so fascinating! I have books that are like that for me too, where I can easily remember in full sensory detail where I was and what I was doing while reading them. Enjoy your reading!

  7. A Decline in Prophets sounds interesting. I hope you enjoy it!

    My It's Monday! What Are You Reading? post.

  8. My memories of where and when I read a book are often as important as memories of the book itself. The brain books sound fascinating!

  9. Oh I love those sort of reads, putting both Norman Doidge books on my wishlist ... very curious about neuroplastic healing. I tried for many years to change the association of a certain smell with traumatic memories. I had major kidney surgery and spent nearly 2 weeks in hospital, every day they used warm lavender towels (nice at the time lol) and for many years every time I smelt lavender ... instant nausea and vomiting. Our brains are fascinating aren't they?
    Have a great week and happy reading :)

    1. How did you get over your aversion to lavender?

      I believe the 2 brain books are also available on audio if you prefer to listen to them :-)

    2. With 'mindfulness' techniques and loads of practice trying to make a new pathway ... associate lavender with a more pleasant memory than pain and near death ... like my Gran :) Surgery was over 10 years ago and it's probably only been the last year or two that I stopped having such a visceral reaction. I can now smell lavender and not puke. Not an insta-fix but good enough lol. I just picked up The Brain's Way of Healing thanks to your enthusiasm!

  10. Isn't it crazy how our brains work? They make some unusual connections sometimes! Happy reading this week!

  11. I'm always fascinated with the ways the brIn works. Enjoy.

  12. I've heard some really good things about his first book. Thanks for the review, Brona.


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