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"Mind Wide Open" by Steven Johnson - Book Review

One of the better and more interesting books I've read in recent years was "Everything Bad is Good for You" by Steven Johnson.  This past week, I finished reading another of Johnson's works, "Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life". 


When I was younger, I had a handful of professions in mind, none of which actually ended up being my chosen career.   I thought of being a pediatrician, comedian, or perhaps a psychologist.  With regard to that last one, I suppose I've always been curious about how people think, and what motivates them.  Instead of psychology, I've been in sales for 15 years now, and understanding decision-making and the emotions and factors behind this have always intrigued me. 


"Mind Wide Open" explores the science behind laughter, hormones, music, love, fear and more.  Johnson's writing is stellar.  Without a doubt, this man knows how to craft a sentence.  He even spends part of the book discussing an MRI that he underwent in order to see what his own brain does when he is writing.  Johnson is both mildly self-deprecating and genuine when including anecdotes about his own fears and personal stories. 


If you've even been curious about why certain people seem destined to abuse drugs, that's covered here as well.  In a nutshell, it comes down to brain chemistry.  People who end up addicted to drugs are probably predisposed because of something natural which is lacking within their specific brain and its receptors. 


I do have a couple of criticisms, which probably reflect my own preferences more than anything else (what reviews aren't?).  Namely, I felt that some of the examples/chapters were longer than necessary to get the point(s) across, and I thought that the use of Darwinism was a little heavy-handed, considering that there was no mention of intelligent design (i.e. God) at all.  I suppose this is to be expected in scientific writings, but I did tire of hearing about Darwin and the evolution of our brain from lower life forms.


My complaints notwithstanding, the book is worth the read, and I did learn a good deal about brain science and even a little about reading others' thoughts, which could always come in handy.  :)  You can find "Mind Wide Open" on Amazon or at your local bookstore, more than likely.  If this subject holds interest for you, this book would make a nice addition to your collection.


Thanks for reading!

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