Read because you can

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

Once upon a time, when I was fairly young, my mom invested her time to teach me to read, so I learned just a bit earlier than my fellow classmates at school. That might have been the reason for my deep love of  reading and I cherish those memories when I was first capable of reading a street billboard or finished Matilda by Roald Dahl, my first book for “older kids”. The feeling of self-accomplishment was immense.

Why am I bringing those sweet childhood memories to you? Because April 23rd is World Book day. Coincidentally, this day was first established in the country where I am originally from, Spain. This day marks the death of great authors such as Miguel de CervantesWilliam Shakespeare and Garcilaso de la Vega. Since I can remember, we always marked the occasion at school by sharing our favorite books to celebrate the enjoyment of reading, as Jane Austen put it. Years later we would celebrate this day by reading passages of Don Quixote, when we supposedly had become mature enough to understand the metaphors and the various interpretations of this magnificent piece of work by Cervantes.


Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, 1955 by Pablo Picasso.

I still love reading, but nowadays my time is often spent reading more scientific articles than novels. Occasionally, I come across books that combine science and leisure in a relieving way – relieving because I don’t feel guilty for completely neglecting my neuro-reading duties. Here, I offer you a modest list of a few of these books, some of which have been previously reviewed by other NeuWriters in this very blog, and I promise that every single one is worth the read.

I invite you to pick at least one of them, and give it a read. Do it to honor World Book Day, do it because reading is one of the most wonderful distractions, or just do it because you would look a lot more interesting at your local coffee shop holding a book rather than scrolling down through your smartphone.

Happy World Book Day!

An unquiet mind: a memoir of moods and madness by Kay Redfield Jamison. The author is a specialist and a sufferer of bipolar disorder and depression, offering in her book a unique vision and understanding of these afflictions. Check Caroline’s post about mental health and stigma.

Brain on Fire. My month of madness by Susannah Cahalan. A story in first-person about the journey through madness that the author endured before finding out what was happening to her brain. NeuWrite review by Elena V.

Dancing naked in the mind field by Kary Mullis. A controversial read written by the Nobel Prize winner and inventor of the PCR (check out a previous post I wrote about this story) where he offers his particular views on a wide range of presumably scientific topics. Not about neuroscience necessarily, but interesting nevertheless.

Do zombies dream of undead sheep? by Timothy Verstynen and Bradley Voytek. Both authors are neuroscientists, and explain the discipline from the hypothetical situation of studying a zombie nervous system. NeuWrite review by Maya.

Lock in by John Scalzi. A  fictional murder story based on the rare locked-in syndrome. Another NeuWrite review by Maya.

Mary Putnam Jacobi: A Pathfinder in Medicine. With Selections from Her Writings and a Complete Bibliography Work done by one of the most remarkable female physicians in history. Read a brief summary of her life here by Ashley.

Mind change by Susan Greenfield. The author reviews the potential dangers of too much technology. NeuWrite review by Maya.

Musicophilia: tales of music and the brain by Oliver Sacks. The dearly departed psychologist narrates some of his most shocking cases, in which all his patients shared a special relationship to music. Check out a previous post about the admiration of various NeuWriters for the life and work of Oliver Sacks.

This is your brain on music: the science of a human obsession by Daniel J. Levitin. A comprehensive walk through the intricate relationship between our brains and music. Check out a previous post by Megan about music and the brain.

Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament by Kay Redfield Jamison. The author talks about the link between creativity and the tendency to suffer from mood disorders. Check Melissa’s post about the book and bipolar disorder.

Bonus reading: if you dig romance novels, don’t miss these posts (part I and part II) by our former NeuWriter and avid reader Maya.


Matilda, character from the famous book by Roald Dahl.


I would like to dedicate this blog post to my parents, whom I’m incredibly grateful to for all the endless hours they spent reading bedtime stories to me (even those about witches that prevented me from sleeping whatsoever) and their decision to raise me surrounded by books.