Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Electric Brain: How the New Science of Brainwaves Reads Minds, Tells Us How We Learn, and Helps Us Change for the Better by R. Douglas Fields

DNF @ p.202

Ugh, my first book of 2020 is a "did not finish"! Noooo!

ELECTRIC BRAIN is not a bad book, the problem is that it is very dense and not that easy to read. Now before you accuse me of being some idiot who dabbles in romance novels and doesn't know what she's talking about (the go-to insult for people on these sites wanting to discredit me, lol), I have a Bachelor's in Psychology (cum laude, y'all) and I used to tutor introductory neuroscience through the university (i.e. the university paid me to tutor, and even begged me to continue after I graduated because I was so good at my job), so understanding the material wasn't the problem. I'm a SMART idiot who dabbles in romance novels, thanks. I just felt like the material in this book wasn't necessarily presented in the most engaging way. It's very hard to read.

The paragraph blocks are big and tense and it kind of feels like you're being lectured at, especially when the author slips into "stream of conscious" mode, like he does when he's getting his EEG done, and feels like you, the reader, want to be privy to around four pages of his innermost thoughts as he engages in biofeedback. I did appreciate all the pictures and thought they helped break up the text, but there weren't as many photos as I would have liked-- particularly of the brain, as I feel like when he was talking about specific areas of the brain and their functions, it would be helpful to non-majors (and also as a helpful refresher to majors) to include a picture showing where the section he was talking about is.

Also, for those of you who need that sort of thing, major trigger warnings for the first section, which touches upon the darker side of medical science-- desecration and experimentation without consent, including a very charming mention of the man who inspired Mary Shelley's Frankenstein by experimenting on the kittens he killed with electricity. Blech. Also, can we talk about how evil Thomas Edison is for endorsing the electric chair just to smear Nikola Tesla and AC? YIKES. #TeamTesla

I thought this book had some very interesting subject matter, and I think it would be a fantastic resource for a research paper on neuroscience or cognition (I see you, college students), but this is not a book that is designed for pleasure reading, and since I rate all books I read exclusively on how much I enjoyed them, I am giving it two stars for the iffy presentation. I get a lot of nonfiction as ARCs since I suspect a lot of people go, "Ew! School!" and don't want to read them for pleasure, but there are a lot of really engaging works of nonfiction out there. Sadly, this just wasn't one of them.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

2 out of 5 stars

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