A Neuro Nerd's Book List


You might think, after spending my days talking to patients about brain injuries and doing research on the brain, that I'd have had just about enough of the old grey matter, right? Wrong. You guys. Your brain is AMAZING. I can't get enough. 

I didn't always feel this way. Learning about the brain and nervous system can be a bit dry. I remember hours in the anatomy lab trying to memorize nerves, and squinting into a microscope trying to differentiate cell types. This is not the kind of stuff one does for fun. But the longer I worked as a physio, the more I saw that the brain and nervous system play a part in EVERY SINGLE THING that you do. Think about it - mind-blowing, right? (See what I did there?)

So for your inner neuro nerd's enjoyment, here are, in no particular order, four non-boring, non-textbook, actually-really-fun books about the weird and wonderful brain. 


Another Day in the Frontal Lobe - Dr. Katrina Firlik

This book is a really interesting look at the day-to-day work and life of a neurosurgeon. It translates complex medical issues into really readable, accessible stories without losing that element of "say whaaattt!" that you can get from reading medical or neuro books (like a patient who took a nail to the head from a nail-gun!). I also liked reading from the perspective of a woman in a very male-dominated field. 

Do No Harm - Dr. Henry Marsh

This is another book written by a neurosurgeon, this one practicing in Great Britain. It's full of interesting patients and fascinating experiences - Dr. Marsh even talks about visiting Kiev and working in the local medical system. What I found most fascinating about this book is that Dr. Marsh details both successful and unsuccessful stories. I read a review of his book and he says, "As I approach the end of my career, I feel an increasing obligation to bear witness to past mistakes I have made."

The Brain's Way of Healing - Dr. Norman Doidge

This is the follow-up book to Dr. Doidge's very popular "The Brain that Changes Itself." This one, too, is an exploration of neuroplasticity. He talks about a doctor who built a practice helping patients with chronic pain after dealing with chronic pain himself, and my favourite, another man who manages his Parkinson's disease by walking (a lot). He also talks about some therapies that don't have much scientific support right now, like a device that supposedly delivers light to the brainstem to heal it, so this book should not be taken as clinical practice advice. But as an exploration of neuroplasticity, this book is a great read. 

Into The Grey Zone - Dr. Adrian Owen

I saved the best for last - this book is a great read. Dr. Owen researches consciousness, and has done some AMAZING experiments to detect consciousness in patients who have been diagnosed as being  in a persistent vegetative state. I heard him speak at a neuroscience conference about two years ago, and his work was compelling. I literally discussed his patients with everyone I spoke to for a week afterward. I pre-ordered this book months before it was released, and I was not disappointed. 


There you have it - my top book picks for your inner neuro nerd's enjoyment. Are there any you would add to this list?