Editor’s Note: One of our favorite authors, Lisa Genova is not only a renowned neuroscientist, but also the New York Times bestselling author of STILL ALICE, LEFT NEGLECTED, LOVE ANTHONY, and INSIDE THE O’BRIENS. Her new book, EVERY NOTE PLAYED, is out in bookstores now.
I read a little of everything and always two or three books at once. I read contemporary fiction to keep refining my craft and because I love a great story. Historical fiction tends to captivate me the most. I enjoy being immersed in characters and places from another time, and, when done well, to marvel at the extensive research the author did to build such seamless believability. I read nonfiction texts on neuroscience, psychology, and medicine to keep learning and because these subjects will forever fascinate me. And I read self-help because I’m committed to continually growing, and the tools and reminders offered in these books inspire me to live and love bigger. Here are a few of my favorites.
Jean-Dominque Bauby wrote this memoir one painstaking wink at a time after a massive brainstem stroke left him completely paralyzed but for his left eye. His body a prison, his mind nonetheless remained sharply intact. Stunning and eloquent, Bauby’s words still haunt me.
This book blew me away. It’s a master class in page-turning narrative: nuanced, unique, three-dimensional characters; gorgeous sentences that made me weep; exquisite sensory details. I savored every breathtaking page.
Already beloved by millions of readers, this novel follows a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as they both try to survive the devastation of World War II. The breakout hit of 2014, this beautiful novel was a finalist for the National Book Award and it just won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. If you haven't read it yet, this one should be at the top of your spring reading list.
This gem of a book was transformational for me. It offers insights for developing an awareness of negative, limiting thoughts and energy, and for realizing that we don’t have to absorb or cling to them. We can let them go; they are not who we are. This is the book I most often give to others.
My favorite of Alice Hoffman’s many brilliant books. The research she must’ve done to write this mesmerizing story, to create these unforgettable fictional women with such vivid authenticity is astounding. Set nearly 2,000 years ago during the siege at Masada, I feel like I lived and breathed every page.
Nearly two thousand years ago, nine hundred Jews held out for months against Roman armies on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. The source for the recent CBS miniseries, The Dovekeepers is a beautifully written and captivating tale of four women whose lives intersect in the desperate days of the siege.
A collection of case studies describing real patients with extraordinary neurological impairments, told with compassion and an infectious curiosity about how the mind works. This is the book that ignited my passion for neuroscience.
A thrilling tour through the conscious and subconscious mind, left and right brain, the perceptual versus the real world. Mind-bendingly fun and fascinating.
Phantom limbs, synesthesia, the evolution of language, the underpinnings of empathy, art appreciation, a sense of self: How do our brains allow us to perceive, understand, interact with, and enjoy the world around us? The questions are as intriguing as the theories and answers.
Told with extraordinary vulnerability, grace, humor, and profound insight, ON PLUTO is a journey inside the mind of Greg O’Brien, a journalist living with young-onset Alzheimer’s disease. O’Brien is the poet laureate of Alzheimer’s, my personal hero. If you’re trying to understand what it feels like to live with Alzheimer’s, you need to read this book.