09 May Read your way to a better life this May
This month, we are recommending authors who have battled to win Olympic Gold, studied the brain’s consciousness, learned to adapt their life with a new diagnostic label, and researched how we can all benefit from the Nordic way of living.
Now in paperback, this Sunday Times and Financial Times Book of the Year examines our brains during the activities of a day. What happens in our brains when we wake up, savour a meal or a glass of wine, walk the dog, stare at a screen, daydream or sleep? World-renowned neuroscientist Susan Greenfield draws on her own pioneering research to illuminate the mystery of consciousness, and how our brains make us who we are. Each of us has a unique, subjective inner world, one that we can never share directly with anyone else. But how do our physical brains actually give rise to this rich and varied experience of consciousness? Greenfield brings together a series of astonishing new, empirically based insights into consciousness as she traces a single day in the life of your brain. From waking to walking the dog, working to dreaming, the author explores how our daily experiences are translated into a tangle of cells, molecules and chemical blips, thereby probing the enduring mystery of how our brains create our individual selves.
Laura James found out that she was autistic as an adult, after she had forged a career for herself, married twice and raised four children. Odd Girl Out tracks the year of Laura’s life after she receives a definitive diagnosis from her doctor, as she learns that ‘different’ doesn’t need to mean ‘less’ and how there is a place for all of us, and it’s never too late to find it. Laura draws on her professional and personal experiences and reflects on her life in the light of her diagnosis, which for her explains some of her differences; why, as a child, she felt happier spinning in circles than standing still and why she has always found it difficult to work in places with a lot of ambient noise. Although this is a personal story, the book has a wider focus too, exploring reasons for the lower rate of diagnosed autism in women and a wide range of topics including eating disorders and autism, marriage and motherhood. This memoir gives a timely account from a woman negotiating the autistic spectrum, from a poignant and personal perspective.
At London 2012, Nicola Adams made history. The flyweight boxer – nicknamed the smiling assassin – became the first ever woman to win an Olympic Gold medal for boxing. In Rio 2016, with the nation cheering her on, she did it all over again. Growing up in Leeds, Nicola stumbled into boxing in her local sports centre while her mum was at aerobics. Age 13 she decided that she would win an Olympic Gold: nobody was going to stop her. Years of relentless training, fundraising and determination have seen Nicola battle through injury, prejudice and defeat to become one of Britain best-loved athletes and an inspiration to all those who are chasing after a seemingly impossible dream.
The Danes may have their hygge and the Norwegians their back to the land culture, but the Swedes have ‘lagom’: an even-keeled approach to a life of balance. Dr Bertil Marklund – a doctor and researcher at the Gothenburg University with over forty years of experience – provides the most cutting-edge research to explain the ten areas we should focus on to better our chances of a long life. This compact guide provides wisdom from the Nordics, a region actually can be: did you know drinking coffee will promote your health? Or that more people die of lack of Vitamin D than they do of skin cancer? By providing pragmatic and realistic advice, Dr Marklund gives you the power to make a difference in your own life today and for the future, long known for its healthy and progressive lifestyle.