The Human Brain Book
by Rita Carter. Dorling Kindersley, 2009 ($40)
Don’t let the rich, colorful illustrations fool you into thinking this book is for kids. The Human Brain Book packs an astonishing amount of information between its oversized covers, proving interesting and informative for both experts brushing up on the basics and newbies looking to learn more about the brain.
This gem can serve as a reference to answer brain-related questions, from the complex organ’s function and structure to the disorders that can afflict it. The book’s innovative graphics and diagrams also provide a unique way of looking at the brain; for example, one section separates and spreads out the layers in a graphical head, allowing the reader to view the dissected anatomy comprising the head and neck, including the brain stem, the skull and the intricate lace of nerves woven just beneath the scalp.
The Brain Book is also just plain fun to browse, thanks to the variety of topics relevant to each of us in real life, from the sections about how we sense pain, to the neurobiology of desire and reward, to how the creative process can change the brain’s chemistry. Fun might not be a term that comes to mind often when considering reference books; that’s why The Human Brain Book proves itself unique among educational texts.